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| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 25, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 25, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 25, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 25, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 25, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 24, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 20, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 19, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 19, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 19, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 19, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 19, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 13, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 13, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 13, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 12, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 12, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 12, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 12, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 12, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 6, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 6, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 6, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 6, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday November 6, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 5, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 5, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 5, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 5, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday November 5, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday November 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday November 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday November 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 30, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 29, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 23, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 22, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 21, 2020 |


U.S. Winter Outlook: Cooler North, Warmer South Expect a dry, warm winter in the south, and cooler, wetter, conditions in the North, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA last week released its U.S. Winter Outlook, indicating weather impacts from an ongoing La Nina. Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center are also closely monitoring persistent drought during the winter months ahead. Currently, large areas of drought extend over the western half of the U.S., with parts of the Northeast also experiencing drought and near-record low stream flows. Wetter-than-average conditions are most likely across the northern tier of the U.S., extending from the Pacific Northwest, across the Northern Plains, Great Lakes and into the Ohio Valley, as well as Hawaii and northern Alaska. The ongoing La Nina is expected to expand and intensify drought across the southern and central Plains, eastern Gulf Coast, and in California during the months ahead. However, drought conditions are expected to improve in the northern Rockies, Northwest, New England, Alaska and Hawaii over the coming months. ************************************************************************************ Reuters: Payments to Farmers at All Time High Before Election Direct payments to U.S. farmers are at an all-time high as the nation prepares for a national election next month. Record government subsidies, much needed in the turbulent trade environment and coronavirus pandemic, are projected to make up more than a third of farm income in 2020. In a report by Reuters, the aid programs could be key to Donald Trump’s chances of success in swing states. The Environmental Working Group called agriculture aid in the latest COVID-19 relief package "old-fashioned vote-buying." Farmers, facing steep losses stemming from Trump's trade policies and COVID-19 related market disruption would argue the funds are needed. However, this fall, commodity prices are slowly improving and providing a better outlook for agriculture. Meanwhile, the direct payments have the attention of farm groups in Canada. Grain Farmers of Ontario is seeking more funding from the Canadian government. One farm group executive from Canada states, “Government funds have allowed U.S. producers an advantage over farmers in Canada, not just on price but money to invest in their operations.” ************************************************************************************ Lack of Trade Deal Will Hurt EU-UK Food Supply Chain The absence of an EU-UK trade deal on January 1, 2021, would cause significant economic losses on both sides for companies active in food and agriculture supply chains. Rabobank researchers say companies in the food supply chain should be prepared for loss of export and import opportunities. A certainty of a no-deal scenario is that the EU will consider the UK a third country as of January 1, 2021, and will apply import tariffs on UK food and agriculture products, just as the EU does on imports from other third countries. Import increases related to agriculture include dairy, red meats, sugar, and consumer foods, among other categories. Rabobank says that without a trade deal, export volumes out of the UK to the EU will shrink to almost negligible levels in most cases. Tariff levels range from 30 percent, for beef, dairy and sugar, to 10-30 percent for pork and poultry, and ten percent for some fruits and vegetables, beverages and fertilizers. ************************************************************************************ Minnesota Governor Announces State Aid for Agriculture Minnesota Governor Tim Walz this week announced a $7.7 million plan to support farmers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funded through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES ACT, the financial support will help farmers who have experienced market disruptions recover from and purchase equipment and supplies necessary for COVID-19 in Minnesota. Walz stated, “the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the way farmers and agricultural businesses must operate.” The funding includes $5.75 million for direct payments to turkey and pork producers to compensate for market disruptions and associated costs due to COVID-19. The funding also includes $1 million for cost-share aid to companies or individuals looking to expand or open a meat processing facility. Walz says further investment in meat processing capabilities will help alleviate the back up of animals caused by supply-chain impacts of COVID-19. Finally, the plan includes funding for local food systems, farm business management scholarships, and reimbursements for grants that provided Minnesota-grown food in school summer meal programs. ************************************************************************************ Grants Support Ethanol Industry Safety Education $75,000 in grants awarded to the Renewable Fuels Association will promote safety education through on-site seminars and internet webinars. Both grants were received via the association's work with a voluntary national outreach effort that assists communities in preparing for and responding to a possible hazardous material transportation incident. RFA Technical Services Manager Missy Ruff says, "Safety is a high priority for the renewable fuels industry, and we consider it an important part of our mission." A $25,000 grant from the Federal Railroad Administration will support ten ethanol safety seminars and four "train the trainer" webinars for first responders. A $50,000 Community Safety Grant from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will fund six Ethanol and Steel Drum Safety seminars in conjunction with the Industrial Steel Drum Institute. The four "train the trainer" webinars will take place starting in December. For more information, visit the Ethanol Emergency Response website at www.ethanolresponse.com. ************************************************************************************ Forest Service Accepting Grants for Innovations in Wood Products, Energy The USDA Forest Service is accepting applications for innovation grants. Announced Tuesday, the agency has approximately $10 million in funding available through the 2021 Wood Innovations Grant and the 2021 Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation Grant. The grants seek to support local economies through wood products and wood energy innovations while reducing hazardous fuels and improving forest health. USDA says the Wood Innovations Grant program has a long track record of success and seeks to strengthen emerging markets for innovative wood products such as mass timber and cross-laminated timber. Eligible projects should increase wood products manufacturing capacity, strengthen markets that support forest ecosystem restoration and develop commercial facilities for wood biomass and wood products, among others. The application for 2021 Wood Innovations Grants closes in January. Meanwhile, the Community Wood Energy and Wood Innovation Grant program aims to support forest health by expanding renewable wood energy use and innovative manufacturing for wood products. The application period closes in February.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 21, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Other Developments of Interest, Including Hemp Politico is reporting this week that it's been nearly two years since the 2018 Farm Bill was signed into law, legalizing industrial hemp production nationwide and fueling hopes of a hemp farming boom. However, the report says “that hasn't panned out yet, with growers around the country still struggling to reap the benefits of the burgeoning crop sector.” USDA has approved hemp programs for 29 states and is negotiating with another 12. That means a patchwork of inconsistent state regulations and unclear federal guidance for the industry, Politico thinks. And, after millions of acres of hemp were planted in 2019, production is way down this year; many growers gave up because of a steep drop in prices and the lack of a market for their crops. Some state agricultural officials were so unsatisfied with the regulatory framework that USDA proposed last year that they decided not to move forward with hemp initiatives. Among the biggest complaints are the strict limits on THC that can be present in hemp crops and the stringent testing requirements to certify those levels of the psychoactive chemical. Another major hurdle: The FDA has yet to put forth regulations on cannabidiol, the widely popular compound derived from hemp that's increasingly found in products from pills to pet foods. The agency's CBD guidance has been awaiting approval from the White House since July. As a result, while hemp was expected to breathe new life into the industry, after a steady agricultural downturn since farm earnings peaked in 2013 compared to other corners of agriculture, hemp growers held up relatively well early in the pandemic. But even then, advocates worried that the slow-moving regulatory process would stifle what was promised to be a bountiful new frontier in farming — a warning that's increasingly proving true with harvesting now underway. In another controversial area, Politico says that the North American Meat Institute and the Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation, the trade group representing the burgeoning cell-based protein industry, joined forces today to back a mandatory labeling requirement for cell-based meat and poultry products. “Although these products have not yet come to market in the U.S., market entry is fast approaching, and there is significant interest in the regulation of these products, particularly regarding applicable labeling requirements,” the groups wrote in a letter to USDA. The groups emphasized that they are “committed to supporting and complying with principles that ensure labeling is truthful and not misleading, does not disparage cell-based/cultured or conventional products, enables consumers to distinguish between such products, and is consistent with the safety and nutritional qualities of the product.” The groups also recommended that USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to get more info and data on the products to help the agency work on the labeling issue. Also this week in yet another development below the radar of most agricultural groups, the Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell told the International Monetary Fund meeting last week that the Fed hasn't made a decision to issue a digital currency, citing the need for further work and “extensive” public consultation with stakeholders before doing so. “It's more important for the United States to get it right than to be first,” Powell said Monday on a panel during the IMF annual meeting. “We are committed to carefully and thoughtfully evaluating the potential costs and benefits of a central bank digital currency for the U.S. economy and payments system. We have not made a decision to issue a CBDC.” Fed officials have swerved sharply from their previous approach to digital currencies, embracing a full-scale study on whether one might be suitable for the U.S. Powell said about 80% of central banks around the world are exploring the idea. “There are a number of ways that a CBDC might improve the payments system, and it is mainly this area that motivates our interest,” Powell said. The central bank announced in August that it was expanding experimentation with technologies related to digital currencies. In addition, the Boston Fed is working with researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to build a hypothetical digital currency oriented for central bank use. Many of the policy questions are unresolved, but those efforts are indicative of how seriously the Fed now regards the project. U.S. central bankers were slow to warm to the idea of a digital currency, but their interest picked up after Facebook proposed its own unit of exchange for its users. Digital money could change the way monetary policy works in the economy, as well as speed up a payment system that remains slow and taxing for consumers and behind many other nations. Central banks from Sweden to Canada and China are studying whether their money should have a digital counterpart. Sweden began an e-krona project in 2017 and has issued two reports on the topic. The Bank of Canada has launched a formal research project that has partnered with other monetary authorities. The Bank of Japan said earlier this month that it aims to start early phase experiments next year. So, we will see. Certainly, neither the ag sector nor the banking sector is the same as it was a few decades ago, and not only are pressures from new threats growing but new approaches to consumers and the sector are changing quickly as well. These are developments producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 21, 2020 |


Potential US Corn, Soybean Exports to Brazil Unlikely The Brazilian import tariff waiver for corn and soybeans is not expected to result in major purchases of either commodity from the U.S., according to a report from the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) office in Brazil. A report from the office outlines “several hurdles” for the imports, including that “U.S. soybeans may remain too expensive to make sense for Brazilian importers given the U.S. FOB price and ocean freight costs” despite a $20 to $25 discount to Brazilian prices. Plus, there are some nine GMO corn and soybean varieties approved in the U.S. that have not been approved in Brazil. For importers to bring those in, the attaché said they would have to submit a special approval request to the National Technical Commission on Biosecurity (CTNBio) and there are only two more scheduled meetings of that body the rest of 2020. The FAS also pointed out that Brazilian ports are geared for exports, “and reverse engineering the setup is time and resource-intensive.” However, the report said there is “potential for the tariff-free time frames to be extended” beyond the January 15 for soybeans and oy products and March 31 for corn.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 21, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Payments Rise To More Than $6 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) have reached $6.1 billion as of October 18, with 349,747 applications approved. Acreage-based payments total $3.2 billion, livestock payments are at $1.7 billion, dairy at $626 million, sales commodities are at $599 million and eggs/broilers are at $13.0 million. By commodity, the payouts have reached $1.8 billion for corn, $1.4 billion for cattle, $688 million for soybeans, $626 million for milk, $559 million for sales commodities, $315 million for hogs/pigs and $303 million for wheat. Iowa leads all states with $604 million, followed by Illinois at $433 million, Nebraska at $428 million, Minnesota at $428 million, Wisconsin at $331 million and Kansas at $311 million. Payments under the CFAP 1 program are at $10.3 billion as of October 18, including $5.0 billion for livestock, $2.6 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.8 billion for dairy, $784 million for specialty crops and $111 million for aqua/nursery/ flora crops. As with CFAP 2, Iowa leads all states with a total of $969.7 million.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 21, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts will be watched closely for North and South America and the Black Sea region. Export sales announcements at 8 a.m. CDT have become a daily event. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report, including ethanol production will be released at 9:30 a.m. CDT. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book is due out at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather Wednesday features rain and snow in the Northern Plains and light rain to the southeastern Plains through eastern Midwest. This unsettled pattern means harvest disruption. Southern Plains wheat areas remain dry. Temperatures will have a large difference from very cool north to very warm south. Additional northern rain and snow is in store Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 20, 2020 |


NCBA Releases Price Discovery Proposal The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association released its proposal over the weekend for voluntary cattle market price discovery. In a letter to NCBA members, NCBA President Marty Smith says the proposal "lays out a plan to increase negotiated trade and incentivize each of the major packers' participation in such negotiated trade." An NCBA working group came up with the report, "A Voluntary Framework to Achieve Price Discovery in the Fed Cattle Market." The framework explains in detail what the organization calls the "75 Percent Plan," which is designed to provide negotiated trade and packer participation benchmarks for the industry to strive toward. Smith says the plan seeks to achieve no less than 75 percent of the weekly negotiated trade volume that current academic literature indicates is necessary for “robust” price discovery in a specific region, among other thresholds. In the event that defined triggers are tripped in any two out of four rolling quarters, the Subgroup will recommend that NCBA pursue a legislative or regulatory solution to compel robust price discovery. ************************************************************************************ Meat Institute Calls for Mandatory Labeling of Cell-Based Products Two meat industry groups urge the Department of Agriculture to support mandatory labeling of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products. The Meat Institute and the Alliance for Meat, Poultry and Seafood Innovation penned the request in a letter to USDA Monday. The groups also call on USDA to solicit input on what that labeling should look like through an Advance Notice of Public Rulemaking. Under a joint framework for regulation of cell-based/cultured meat, poultry and seafood products, the two agencies will work together to ensure the safety and labeling of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products. Among other provisions of the framework, FSIS will have oversight of cell-based/cultured meat and poultry labeling, as it does for all meat and poultry sold in the United States. The FDA will oversee cell-based/cultured seafood labeling, as it does for most seafood sold in the United States. In a recent public presentation, the agencies committed to joint principles for product labeling and labeling claims. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Seeks Immediate COVID-19 Relief The National Pork Producers Council calls for immediate relief for the nation’s hog farmers. U.S. hog farmers are facing $5 billion in collective pandemic-related losses this year following two challenging years due to trade retaliation. NPPC President Howard AV Roth says, “We’ve lost hog farmers of all sizes due to the COVID pandemic and need additional relief to preserve a highly competitive pork production system.” Without further assistance, Roth says, “we will lose more hog farmers and see our farm sector consolidate.” Among the provisions NPPC is seeking, they include compensation for euthanized and donated hogs. Additionally, the organization asks for modification of the Commodity Credit Corporation charter so a pandemic-driven national emergency qualifies for funding. The organization also seeks additional funds for direct payments to producers without restriction, and an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program with modifications to make it accessible to more producers. NPPC also calls for additional funding for animal health surveillance and laboratories, which have appropriately assisted and shared resources with their public health partners. ************************************************************************************ National Grange Urges FDA to be Innovative in Vaccine Distribution The National Grange wants the Food and Drug Administration to consider "any and all" delivery options of a COVID-19 vaccine for rural Americans and farmworkers. In a letter to the FDA, the organization says, "we believe that innovative options such an oral vaccine in pill form should be pursued." The organization suggested mail delivery of vaccines to rural Americans to ensure quick and easy access once a vaccine is available. Rural America faces a shortage of healthcare providers, as the organization cites a national study reported in 2019. The study found that there are only 12 doctors per 10,000 people in rural America versus more than twice that number, 29.6 per 10,000, in urban areas. Moreover, the study forecast a 23 percent decline in the number of rural physicians over the next decade as current doctors retire. According to the organization, those statistics, coupled with the fact that over 100 rural hospitals have closed in the last decade, further complicate the health care access situation in rural America. ************************************************************************************ Rodale Institute Investment to Increase Land Access for Organic Farmers Rodale Institute Monday announced a $2 million investment to provide organic and regenerative farmers land security through long-term leases and mortgages. Through a partnership with the Iroquois (err-re-coy) Valley Farmland Real Estate Investment Trust, Rodale Institute will use money from its endowment fund to increase land access for organic farmers across the country and boost organic acreage, a core tenet of Rodale Institute’s mission. Rodale Institute has been researching the benefits of regenerative organic agriculture for over 70 years. Despite the organic market reaching $55 billion in the U.S. in 2019, only one percent of U.S. farmland is certified organic. Iroquois Valley seeks to break down those barriers by purchasing farmland and entering into a lease agreement or underwriting a mortgage for organic farmers looking to start or expand their operation. Rodale Institute's investment allows Iroquois Valley to purchase more land, offer those resources to farmers nationwide, and provide the organization with "more stability” in its investment portfolio. ************************************************************************************ January Sheep Industry Convention Goes Virtual The American Sheep Industry Association Executive Board last week opted to plan a virtual event rather than in person in January 2021. The ASI Annual Convention was scheduled for January 27-30 at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. However, state and local COVID-19 restrictions on social distancing made meeting room capacity an issue. Additionally, safety concerns would have meant some directors would not attend in person, therefore a much more expensive hybrid version of in-person and virtual would have been needed. ASI’s contract with the hotel has been rolled back to the next open convention dates in 2024. While the ASI officers and staff will gather in Denver to present a two-day event during the last week in January, all other attendance at the convention will be virtual. In addition, there will be no annual awards in 2021, as the executive board felt the virtual format would not allow for a proper celebration of those winners.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 20, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Complicated Future for Central Banks Bloomberg is cautioning now that the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks will eventually discover that “breaking up isn't easy” after partnering with their governments and the financial markets to avert a pandemic-driven depression. Investors and lawmakers enamored with cheap money “may well balk when monetary authorities try to throttle back their quantitative easing and other stimulus measures,” the report said. “They are increasingly on what I call a no-exit paradigm,” Allianz SE chief economic adviser and Bloomberg Opinion columnist Mohamed El-Erian, told a group of experts included in a panel discussion last week. The problem isn't pressing – and in fact is probably one central bankers would be glad to have if it meant their economies were strong. Instead, faced with slowing global growth and resurgent infections, the focus of policy makers at last week's all-virtual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings was on more support for the world economy, not less. Central banks are pulling out the stops to do all they can, boosting financial markets with massive asset purchases and pushing government borrowing costs to record lows,” Bloomberg said. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has repeatedly pressed for more aid to support the economy until it's clearly out of the woods. “The recovery will be stronger and move faster if monetary policy and fiscal policy continue to work side by side,” he told business economists on Oct. 6. However, he thinks that “the trouble may start after a virus vaccine is approved and distributed” and the U.S. and world economies begin to return to normal. If the Fed and other central banks are constrained from scaling back emergency stimulus at that point, the continued flood of liquidity could spur asset bubbles and even too-rapid inflation, he said. Rebecca Patterson, director of investment research at Bridgewater Associates, said she saw some merit to arguments that the U.S. ultimately will see faster inflation because of continued aggressive fiscal stimulus. “It's something investors really haven't had to think about for the last few decades,” she told an Oct. 13 Council on Foreign Relations briefing. “Whether we get it or not, preparing for that risk scenario is pretty important.” Patterson said that economic policy “has entered a new paradigm, with independent central banks and governments working closely together to fight the pandemic.” Monetary policy makers are buying up government bonds while fiscal policy practitioners are issuing more of them to finance mammoth budget deficits. “Fiscal has become the dominant driver,” Patterson said. The relationship between the central banks and their governments is “sort of a honeymoon situation because their interests are aligned,” former European Central Bank chief economist Peter Praet said. “There is no inflation, so the central banks ask the fiscal authority to spend more to support aggregate demand,” he told a later panel discussion hosted by the Institute of International Finance. “But when their interests start to diverge, that's a very delicate moment.” The debt deluge may have other consequences. The Treasury market is now so large that that it may not be able to function smoothly on its own during times of stress, according to Fed Vice Chair for Supervision Randal Quarles. He told a virtual discussion organized by the Hoover Institution on Oct. 14 that it was an “open question” whether the Fed would have to keep buying Treasuries to aid the working of the market. The central bank is currently purchasing about $80 billion of Treasuries a month. Central bank leaders from Europe, Japan and the UK stressed the importance of maintaining the independence of their institutions at a virtual international banking seminar on Sunday. “We have to steer clear of what would be regarded in popular parlance as fiscal dominance,” European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde said. Andrew Bailey, governor of the Bank of England, said the independence of central banks hasn't been eroded by their coordination with governments to help economies through the coronavirus crisis this year. The bond market is underestimating how strongly the U.S. economy will rebound, and that may lead to a “mini taper tantrum” next year, according to John Herrmann at MUFG Securities Americas. El-Erian said that the U.S. central bank has “conditioned the market to such an extent that every time the Fed tries to step back, the market forces them back in” by selling off and tightening financial conditions. Former Bank of England policy maker Paul Tucker agreed that the financial markets have come to expect periodic support from central banks after years in which monetary policy makers effectively delivered just that. “I wait, longing for a central banker to do for financial stability what Paul Volcker did for inflation, which is to break that psychology that you, the capitalist markets, are actually utterly dependent on the Federal Reserve and other central banks, propping up prices come what may,” Tucker said. So, we will see. Clearly, the institutional adjustment to more nearly normal markets will mean hazards for many current participants – changes that affect large stakeholders in the U.S. and global economies. These are efforts producers should watch very closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 20, 2020 |


Groups Push Meat Labeling Framework For Cell-Based Meat The North American Meat Institute and the Alliance for Meat, Poultry, and Seafood Innovation are sending a joint letter to USDA and FDA food safety officials on the topic of cell-based meat, urging the agencies to support “a labeling framework that fosters transparency, consumer confidence, and a level playing field while also aligning with longstanding law and policy.” The groups said mandatory labeling requirements should also be informed by “more information and supporting data on finished product characteristics for cell-based/cultured meat and poultry products, particularly those that may require labeling.” The groups urged USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service issue an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to collect the information.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 20, 2020 |


USDA Reverses Course On Hemp Guidance USDA's Farm Service Agency last week issued a notice to state and county offices on making direct and guaranteed loans to hemp producers for the 2021 growing season and then abruptly pulled that notice back. The original notice indicated that hemp growers could no longer produce the crop under the pilot program that was part of the 2014 Farm Bill. However, the agency quickly withdrew that guidance, noting that “the 'Continuing Appropriations Act, 2021 and Other Extensions Act' authorizes operations to continue to produce hemp under approved 2014 Farm Bill Pilot Programs until September 30, 2021.” Given the extension in the continuing resolution, FSA said, “Additional guidance on making direct and guaranteed loans to hemp producers for the 2021 crop year is forthcoming.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 20, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets After traders get an update of the latest weather forecasts early Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau releases its September report of U.S. housing starts at 7:30 a.m. CDT. Traders will watch for a possible export sale announcement from USDA at 8 a.m. and any other news surprises that might emerge. Weather Tuesday will bring a rain-snow mix to the Northern Plains and rain to the eastern Midwest, causing corn harvest delays. Rain will also develop in the southeastern Plains and Delta with harvest disruption and possible damage to cotton.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 19, 2020 |


Farm Bureau Reviews State-Level Farm Income The most recent Farm Income Forecast from USDA in early September provided an update on 2020 farm income projections, as well as the first estimates of state-level financial conditions in 2019. Farm cash receipts are forecast to hit a ten-year low in 2020. In 2019, gross farm income from selling crops and livestock, federal support, and other income combined were estimated at $432 billion, rising two percent from the prior year. However, that was down $52 billion from the record-high in 2013. At the state level, farm income was highest in California at $54 billion, two percent higher than the previous year. After California, farm income was highest in parts of the western Corn Belt and Texas. Those areas have high concentrations of feed grain, oilseed, and cotton production, as well as livestock feeding operations. Farm income in Iowa rose four percent in 2019 to almost $32 billion. After accounting for production expenses, state-level net farm income again highest once again in California at $11 billion, a nearly 30 percent drop from 2018, and 27 percent lower than the ten-year average. Similar to gross cash receipts, net farm income was highest in the western Corn Belt and the Southwest states. Ad hoc disaster assistance in 2019 totaled $22.4 billion, up 64 percent from the previous year. *****************************************t***************************************************** CFTC Finalizes Position Limits Rule The Commodity Futures Trading Commission approved three final rules recently, including one regarding positions limits for derivatives. That completed the Commission’s rulemakings related to the implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The Commission adopted new and amended federal spot-month position limits for derivatives contracts associated with 25 physical commodities and amended single-month and all-months-combined federal limits for most of the agricultural contracts currently subject to federal position limits. Under the final rule, federal non-spot month position limits were not extended to the 16 new physical commodities. Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts says he appreciates the Commission’s careful review and consideration of stakeholders’ input, particularly from the nation’s agricultural end-users, as they put the final rule in place. “This rule contains a clear definition of what practices constitute a bona fide hedge and therefore are not subject to position limits,” Roberts says. “This is critical to ensure all commercial end-users can effectively hedge commercial risk.” He thanked Commission Chair Talbert for keeping his word to both Roberts and American agriculture in finalizing the rule. ********************************************************************************************** ASA #SeeSoyHarvest Campaign Highlighting America’s Soybean Industry The American Soybean Association’s #SeeSoyHarvest campaign is in full swing and taking Congressional members on a virtual trip to soybean-producing states across the country. In a news release, ASA says, “If farmers can’t come to the Hill, then the hill must go to the field.” The first two videos in the campaign talked about topics like the value of U.S. soy in creating American jobs, the importance of access to overseas markets for U.S. soy, and how a robust infrastructure keeps transportation costs competitive. The latest video, “Biodiesel for the Future,” talks about biodiesel’s benefits, which include creating a new market for soy oil, diversifying the domestic fuel supply, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Videos will continue to be released Tuesdays and Thursdays through October. Bill Gordon, ASA President, says being able to travel to Washington. D.C., and advocate for top soy issues is a big deal to soybean farmers. “We love that the #SeeSoyHarvest Campaign is a workaround during the pandemic to continue sharing priority issues with our legislators, remind them that we are a resource as they make critical agricultural policy decisions, and offer a passenger seat inside our world to see what soy harvest is like on the farm,” Gordon says. More information about the videos can be found on the ASA’s social media pages. ********************************************************************************************** The U.K. Says Trade Talks with EU Are “Over” Talks on a Brexit trade deal between the United Kingdom and the European Union are over. Reuters says that’s the opinion of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who feels there is no point in carrying on any conversations unless the EU fundamentally changes its stance on several issues. Johnson’s spokesman says, “The trade talks are over. The EU has effectively ended them by saying that they do not want to change their negotiating position. The only way it will be worth continuing the talks is if the EU makes fundamental changes to its negotiating stance.” The EU had said its negotiators would travel to London for further talks this week as planned. Johnson’s spokesman says the Prime Minister feels there is no reason for the EU negotiator to make the trip unless “he’s prepared to discuss all of the issues based on legal texts in an accelerated way, without the UK being required to make all of the moves.” The UK is also asking the EU to be more willing to discuss some of the practical aspects of trade, such as “travel and haulage.” ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Ethanol Production Hits Five-Week High The Energy Information Administration says U.S. ethanol production hit its highest level in five weeks, while inventories reached the largest number seen since the end of August. Ethanol output in the seven days before October ninth averaged 937,000 barrels a day, up from 923,000 the previous week. The EIA says it’s also the most ethanol production since September fourth. The Midwest, which far and away produces the most ethanol in the country, reached an output of 900,000 barrels of ethanol a day, up from an average of 881,000 barrels, and was the region’s highest output since late July. East coast production jumped to an average of 10,000 barrels a day, up from 6,000 the previous week. Rocky Mountain output was unchanged from the prior week, producing an average of 10,000 barrels a day. Gulf Coast production took the biggest dive from the previous week, coming in at an average of 9,000 barrels per day after averaging 17,000 barrels a day, with the drop likely due to the effects of Hurricane Delta. The EIA also says inventories increased last week to 20 million barrels. That’s up from 19.6 million barrels the week prior and the largest amount of ethanol in storage since late August. ********************************************************************************************** China Leading U.S. Corn Buyer Early in Marketing Year A recent buying spree means China is running away with the top spot on the U.S. corn buyer list six weeks into the marketing year. China has purchased 10.4 million tons for delivery during 2020-2021, twice as large as the sales to date for Mexico, which is usually the number one U.S. corn purchaser. “Our top customer for the current crop year is off to a very rapid start,” says Ryan LeGrand, CEO of the U.S. Grains Council. “The phase one trade agreement is a factor, but Chinese importers are also practical and will buy what they need when they need it, and the price is right for them.” The USDA says 1.1 million tons of the corn purchases have shipped to China, and the rest of the 10.4 million tons remains on order. Exporters have sold 4.7 million tons of corn to Mexico for delivery this marketing year, and 941,000 of those tons are in Mexican hands. Mexico has been the top market for U.S. corn for several years now. During the last marketing year, Mexico imported about 14.5 million tons, while China brought in about 2.3 million tons.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 19, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Joblessness and COVID The American economy is showing fresh signs of deceleration, the New York Times said this week. It is being hammered by layoffs, a surge in coronavirus cases and the lack of fresh aid from Washington. The article cited the Labor Department's Thursday report that 886,000 people filed new claims for unemployment benefits last week, an increase of nearly 77,000 from the previous week. Adjusted for seasonal variations, the total was 898,000. The rise follows the announcement of layoffs by major companies, including Disney and United Airlines, in recent weeks and a continuing impasse between Republicans and Democrats over another round of aid for the economy. A recent jump in coronavirus infections, principally in the Midwest and Western states, only added to the grim outlook. “It's discouraging,” Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics said. “The labor market appears to be stalled, which underscores the need for new stimulus as quickly as possible.” The economy had rebounded strongly in late spring and early summer as lockdowns eased in many parts of the country and employers brought back workers from furloughs. But those recalls have slowed, even as federal stimulus efforts have waned. In past recessions, 800,000 new claims for state unemployment insurance in a week would have been considered extraordinary. But over the last 30 weeks, that figure has become a floor, not a ceiling. The latest numbers “point to a lot of churn in the labor market, and it appears the rate of firings has picked up,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays. More layoffs are expected as sectors like leisure and hospitality are increasingly affected. In some states, restaurants have been able to salvage some business by serving diners outside but that option likely will disappear in many areas as winter approaches. “The course of the virus determines the course of the economy,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at the accounting firm Grant Thornton. “You can't fully reopen with the contagion so high” and as federal aid is waning. A federal program set to expire at the end of the year, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, is seeing a surge in new applications. It provides 13 weeks of extended benefits after the end of regular state payments, which typically last 26 weeks. In the week that ended Sept. 26, the most recent period with available data, nearly 2.8 million people were getting the extended benefits, a jump from fewer than two million the previous week, the Times said. That increase was roughly equal to the decline in the number collecting state benefits. But managing and overseeing those benefits, which are administered by the states, isn't so easy, experts say. “The transition from regular state benefits to P.E.U.C. is not going smoothly,” said Heidi Shierholz, senior economist and director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning research group. The Times examined in greater detail the cases of several workers and their responses to the economic pressures they face in struggling industrial sectors — and especially the tactics some workers who are caught between an unforgiving job market and uncertain prospects for help from the government have been able to use. However, in some places, recipients of state unemployment benefits haven't been notified of their eligibility for the federal extension and aging computer systems have slowed the processing of applications. Thus, for workers facing the end of regular benefits, the extended payment programs have proven to be a lifeline which now appears increasingly threatened. The Times article — along with many others — looked toward the end of the federal supports with growing concern. If it is not extended by Congress, “we're going to see a disaster,” Shierholz said. “There will be a huge drop in living standards and an increase in poverty as well as downward pressure on economic growth.” So, we will see. Almost every economic analysis in recent months has observed that central aspects of the economic outlook depend crucially on the degree to which the coronavirus is controlled — even as the outbreak is increasingly virulent in a growing number of states. The result is increasing concern as anti-virus efforts are increasingly facing political confrontations and election fights intensify — trends producers should watch closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 19, 2020 |


USDA to Soon Start Compliance Reviews On CFAP 1 The Farm Service Agency (FSA) will soon start compliance reviews on applications submitted by producers for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP 1). The agency said in a notice to state and county offices that it will be working with the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) to “randomly identify a statistically sound number of CFAP applications for review.” The agency also said it was “aware” that some state and county offices have “questioned the validity of applicant certifications” on some CFAP 1 enrollment forms (Form AD-3114). The agency said state and counties would be able to add any applications to the list of those selected by the national office that they believe should be reviewed for compliance. States and counties have until October 23 to submit applications for the spot checks beyond those randomly selected at the national level for spot checks. FSA also conducted spot checks on the Market Facilitation Program (MFP), basing those reviews on specified percentages of MFP applications where payments were $100,000 or more and for those paid less than $100,000.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 19, 2020 |


FSA Sending Out Annual CRP Payments Totaling $1.68 Billion Contract holders are receiving $1.68 billion in rental payments under the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) for the 21.9 million acres enrolled in the program. USDA said the enrollment total at the end of September was 21.9 million acres, with contracts on 5.35 million acres expiring as of September 30. With contracts on 3.4 million acres set to start October 1, that would put CRP enrollments at around 19.95 million acres. There were also another 425,777 acres that were enrolled under continuous signup 53 that ended August 21. USDA data indicates that most of those contracts have a start date in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 as the latest update indicated that just over 30,000 acres had a contract start in FY 2020. That would put total CRP acres as FY 2021 starts at around 20.35 million acres. Under the 2018 Farm Bill, the cap on CRP acres rose to 25 million for 2021, up from 24.5 million in 2020. Contracts on another 3 million acres are scheduled to expire as of September 30, 2021 with another 4 million acres to expire as of September 30, 2022. This would suggest another general CRP signup could be in the offing for FY 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 19, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Monday's routine will look familiar to many with an early check of the latest weather forecasts for several crop areas, followed by a pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has a new export sale announcement. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m., followed by the crop progress report at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Snow is in store for the Northern Plains Monday with a line of showers and thunderstorms indicated for the southeastern Midwest. These areas will have harvest disruptions. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere with no drought easing in the southern Plains. Temperatures will vary from cold north to warm southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 16, 2020 |


AFBF Moves 2021 Convention to Virtual Platform The American Farm Bureau Federation announced Thursday that its 102nd Annual Convention will be held online. The announcement follows the cancelation of all events through January 31, 2021, at the San Diego Convention Center, where the convention was scheduled to take place. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, "While we are saddened to not meet in person for this convention, we are eager to bring this event safely to farm and ranch homes across the country." The 2021 American Farm Bureau Virtual Convention planned January 10-13, 2021, will bring together farmers, ranchers and industry experts. The online event will offer American Farm Bureau Convention favorites from the Ag Innovation Challenge and YF&R competitions to the Ag Foundation Book of the Year and the anticipated Farm Dog of the Year. Registration for the 2021 American Farm Bureau Virtual Convention will open later this year and will be free to all attendees. Further details on the event can be found at fb.org/events. ************************************************************************************ USDA Issues $1.68 Billion in CRP Payments The Department of Agriculture is issuing $1.68 billion in payments to agricultural producers and landowners for the 21.9 million acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. Announced Thursday, the payments provide annual rental payment for land devoted to conservation purposes. Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce says, “CRP is one of the many ‘tools’ that USDA offers to producers and private landowners to help best manage sensitive lands.” Through CRP, farmers and ranchers establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. Farmers and ranchers who participate in CRP help provide numerous benefits to the nation’s environment and economy. Signed into law in 1985, CRP is one of the largest private-lands conservation programs in the United States. Meanwhile, CRP participants with contracts effective beginning on October 1, 2020, will receive their first annual rental payment in October 2021. ************************************************************************************ United Farm Workers File Lawsuit over USDA Suspending Labor Report United Farm Workers this week filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for suspending a farm labor survey. The Department of Agriculture last month announced the intention to suspend the Agricultural Labor Survey. USDA claims the public can access other data sources for the data collected in the survey. The Agricultural Labor Survey provides quarterly statistics on the number of agricultural workers, hours worked, and wage rates. Number of workers and hours worked have been used to estimate agricultural productivity, while wage rates have been used in the administration of the H-2A Program and for setting Adverse Effect Wage Rates. The lawsuit filed in Fresno federal court by the United Farm Workers and UFW Foundation alleges the notice will, "send ripple effects throughout the farm labor market, ultimately resulting in many U.S. farmworkers being paid less." The lawsuit seeks a preliminary and permanent injunctive relief preventing USDA from suspending the Farm Labor Survey. ************************************************************************************ USDA, USTR Seek Experts for Agricultural Trade Advisory Committees The Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office are accepting applications for new members to serve on seven agricultural trade advisory committees. Members of the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee advise USDA and USTR on operating existing U.S. trade agreements, negotiating new agreements, and on other trade policy matters. Members of six Agricultural Technical Advisory Committees provide technical advice and guidance on international trade issues that affect both domestic and foreign production in specific commodity sectors. To be considered for candidacy, applicants must have significant expertise in both agriculture and international trade matters. Committee members, who serve four-year terms, represent a cross-section of U.S. food and agricultural stakeholders. They must be U.S. citizens, qualify for a security clearance, and be willing to serve without compensation for time, travel, or expenses. The committees hold frequent conference calls and generally meet in Washington twice a year. Application information is available online at fas.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ Wheat Export Values Firm on Increased Futures, Export Value Wheat futures prices have reached unexpected heights recently. Higher futures prices usually pressure export basis values when farmers sell wheat into the rally because that increases exportable U.S. wheat supplies. However, U.S. Wheat Associates points out the market is undergoing a completely different phenomenon. Extremely tight elevation capacity out of the Gulf and Pacific Northwest due to massive exports to China is sustaining high wheat export basis values, despite increased farmer selling. Soft Red Winter futures are up 11 percent over the last month to recently $5.94 a bushel, the highest level since December 2014. U.S. Wheat Associates Market Analyst Claire Hutchins says grain traders generally agree that the run-up in futures prices is attributed to technical buying. That’s where managed money or commodity funds buy significant amounts of U.S. wheat futures contracts with the expectation that the contracts will gain value over time. Hutchins expects export basis levels to stay at these higher levels through January, assuming that Chinese buying remains strong. ************************************************************************************ NASDA to host 29th Annual Tri-National Agricultural Accord NASDA will virtually host the 29th Annual Tri-National Agricultural Accord Meeting next week, October 20-22. Expecting the largest ever attendance, delegates from the state and provincial departments of agriculture from the United States, Mexico, and Canada will gather to discuss implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, COVID-19 response, African swine fever, and gene editing, among other topics. The U.S. delegation lead, currently at 32 states strong, is NASDA President and Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles. The Canadian delegation will be led by Manitoba Minister of Agriculture & Resource Development Blaine Pedersen and the Mexican delegation will be led by Hidalgo Secretary of Agricultural Development Carlos Muñiz (moo-knee) Rodríguez. The Tri-National Agricultural Accord represents a longstanding commitment among the senior state and provincial agricultural officials of Canada, the United States, and Mexico to work together collaboratively on agricultural trade and development issues. The current arrangement is rooted in a U.S./Canada exchange dating from 1984.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 16, 2020 |


Washington Insider: More Pressure on Huawei Bloomberg is continuing to following closely U.S. efforts to limit Chinese competition in global communications technology markets and is reporting this week that Huawei Technologies Co., already being squeezed out of Europe's vast market for the next generation of telecom equipment, is under siege in another fast-growing business: cloud computing. U.S. officials have been lobbying European lawmakers and industry leaders to use Western companies – while shunning Huawei – to build data centers and offer infrastructure to handle the growing tide of information. Now, as part of a European tour last week, State Department Under Secretary Keith Krach met executives including Deutsche Telekom AG CEO Timotheus Hoettges and Meinrad Spenger, head of Spanish telecom carrier MasMovil, “to urge them to ditch Chinese vendors of cloud infrastructure” on data-security concerns. “Look at this as an extension of that 5G,” Krach said. “Clouds are really important, whether it's in the service cloud or in data centers themselves. This is a big deal.” Bloomberg is noting that increased pressure from Washington is affecting one of Huawei's fastest-growing businesses. China's largest technology corporation by sales has in past years has accumulated an impressive roster of clients, including Deutsche Telekom, France's Orange SA and Spain's Telefonica SA. It's now seeking to expand its reach to customers such as oil companies, power grid operators and logistics providers. While Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. operates a larger cloud business and WeChat-operator Tencent Holdings Ltd. isn't far behind, Huawei appears to be more vulnerable given the U.S. administration has managed to convince some governments in the region to exclude its 5G networking gear. Europe's cloud infrastructure is a $12.4 billion business that grew 33% this year from 2019, according to market researcher IDC. U.S. players dominate, led by Amazon.com Inc.'s AWS and followed by Microsoft Corp., IBM, Google and Oracle Corp. “Chinese players like Alibaba and Tencent are not making huge inroads into the European market,” according to IDC's Carla Arend. As European telecom firms are seen as slowly turning away from Huawei for their 5G infrastructure, U.S. pressure is seen as “already working in the cloud,” Bloomberg says. Orange CEO Stephane Richard told analysts in July that the company's cloud built on a Huawei infrastructure was “likely no longer relevant.” “Clearly today, the Huawei Cloud infrastructure is not necessarily the one we're going to be promoting in Europe,” he said. Orange's Huawei-built cloud is currently used by the European Space Agency and car-maker PSA. Just days before Richard's call with analysts, Orange signed a cloud deal with Google. Deutsche Telekom declined to comment on its CEO's meeting with Krach and its cloud-business plans. The company, whose biggest sales come from its T-Mobile unit in the U.S., has cloud partnerships with Cisco, Microsoft, OVH and Amazon's AWS. It also has an offer based on Huawei infrastructure called “Open Telekom Cloud” for small and medium-sized companies. While Huawei is struggling, U.S. companies are thriving, Bloomberg said. Nokia Oyj on Wednesday signed a five-year deal to move its IT infrastructure onto Alphabet Inc.'s Google Cloud. The U.S. provider also recently won a multiyear deal to store Renault SA's manufacturing data, marking the U.S. tech company's first major industrial cloud deal in France. “Huawei is losing market share in Europe,” said Jim Lewis, Director of Technology Policy Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. “I think its brand has been damaged. Their handset sales continue to do well, but in infrastructure they are being squeezed out of the developed world.” U.S. sanctions also appear to have jeopardized Huawei's supply chain. A U.S. ban on chip sales to Huawei kicked in Sept. 15, disrupting its wireless, handset and cloud offerings. In 5G, the UK has imposed a full ban, while France has devised rules making it riskier for operators to use Huawei equipment, without banning it outright. Telefonica, which retracted plans to use mainly Huawei for its 5G, sells a cloud application with the Shenzen company in Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Chile. It also has partnerships with Google, SAP and Microsoft. Krach cited Telefonica as one of the 50 telecom operators committed to the U.S. “clean network” plan. Huawei is far from defeated in Europe, however. Last week, it opened an 8,000-square foot research center in an upscale Paris neighborhood. Local telecom champion Orange said it will selectively keep parts of Huawei's infrastructure in its offerings. But for now, the U.S. is maintaining pressure on its European counterparts. “All these companies that have cloud businesses and data centers that use Huawei, they understand that in terms of 5G, sophisticated smartphones and their servers, they are going to be out of chips,” Krach said after his eight-country European tour. So, we will see. It is increasingly clear that the administration is continuing its pressure on China and that nation's push into global technology markets – and that the administration appears to be willing to continue to offer expensive subsidies for agricultural producers who are on the front lines of that trade fight. Still, these battles tend to be long and contentious and should be watched especially closely by producers as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 16, 2020 |


Mnuchin Said More Needs To Be Done On China Trade While there has been progress in rebalancing the trade relationship with China, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Wednesday that still more needs to be done. “China has a large, growing middle class, over 300 million people. If U.S. companies and U.S. workers can compete for that business, it's one of the largest opportunities,” Mnuchin said in remarks to a conference conducted by the Milken Institute. “If we can't compete for that business fairly, then they should not have free access to the U.S. system. This needs to be a fair, reciprocal trading relationship.” However, Mnuchin did not offer any indication of what would be pursued with China on trade in a second Trump term in office.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 16, 2020 |


Trump Touts Farmer Aid, Ethanol In Iowa Campaign Stop President Donald Trump on Wednesday spoke at a “Make America Great Again” rally at the Des Moines International Airport, talking up the administration's actions on ethanol and on farmer aid money. “Nobody has ever done (more) for Iowa and the Farm Belt and the farmers and all,” Trump declared. “I saved ethanol. Ethanol is safe.” Trump told the packed crowd, "You have a tremendous influence and a tremendous power and you've never let me down." Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and Trump were tied at 47% among likely voters in Iowa, according to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom poll released September 22. During his speech Wednesday, Trump also cited a poll released earlier in the day by Focus on Rural America that showed him leading Biden by six percentage points, 50% to 44%. Trump made a direct appeal to the state's farmers, saying that he was responsible for $28 billion in aid designed to help offset damage stemming from his trade war with China. “I hope you remember that on November 3,” Trump said.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 16, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets After several export sale announcements the past week, many will be watching USDA's weekly sales report at 7:30 a.m. CDT. At 8:15 a.m. CDT, the Federal Reserve will release its estimate of September industrial production, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. CDT. Traders will continue to watch weather forecasts closely for several important growing regions. Weather Friday will be mostly dry and cool across primary crop areas, generally favorable for harvest and wheat planting. Precipitation will be confined to isolated light rain and snow showers in the far northern Midwest and widely scattered showers in the Delta and Texas coast. Freezing conditions are noted in much of the central and southern Plains and Midwest. Moderate snow is indicated for the far Northern Plains Friday evening.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 15, 2020 |


China Purchases More U.S. Corn as Fears of Shortages Increase Private exporters report more large sales of U.S. corn to China. The Department of Agriculture Wednesday reported two large export sales, one of 420,000 metric tons and another totaling 264,000 metric tons for the new 2020-21 crop year. China needs to continue increased corn purchases to reach the lofty targets included in the Phase One agreement with the United States. However, China is still behind pace to do so this year. Meanwhile, more fears of corn shortages in China are developing. Corn futures hit a new record-high this week of 2,595 yuan, valued at $385.14 per metric ton. China's corn output is expected to fall this year after typhoons flattened crops in some parts of the country, further stoking supply concerns after Beijing ran down its massive state stockpiles over the last several years, according to Reuters. A market expert says, “The stockpile has been sold out,” adding, “The market strongly expects supply shortages.” ************************************************************************************ Enrollment Begins for 2021 ARC, PLC Farmers have until March 15, 2021, to enroll in the Agriculture Risk Coverage, or Price Loss Coverage programs for the 2021 crop year. The enrollment period opened this week for the risk management programs, known as ARC and PLC. The key Department of Agriculture safety-net programs help producers weather fluctuations in either revenue or price for certain crops. USDA says more than $5 billion in payments are in the process of going out to producers who signed up for the 2019 crop year. ARC provides income support payments on historical base acres when actual crop revenue declines below a specified guaranteed level. PLC provides income support payments on historical base acres when the effective price for a covered commodity falls below its reference price. For more information on ARC and PLC, including two online decision tools that assist producers in making enrollment and election decisions specific to their operations, visit fsa.usda.gov, or contact your local USDA service center. ************************************************************************************ WTO Rules Boeing Subsidies Merit EU Tariffs The World Trade Organization This week ruled U.S. subsidies to Boeing merit tariffs from the European Union. The European Union already has a list of expected tariffs, including various fish and aquaculture, onions, potatoes, and various forms of different fruits, vegetables and tree nuts. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer criticized the ruling. Lighthizer stated, “While we disagree with certain aspects of its valuation, the more important point is that the arbitrator did not authorize any retaliation for subsidies other than the Washington State tax break.” In April 2020, Washington State fully repealed the tax rate reduction, the only provision found in the WTO compliance proceeding to be an inconsistent subsidy that harmed the EU. The issue dates back more than a decade. After many years of seeking unsuccessfully to convince the EU and four of its member States to cease their subsidization of Airbus, in 2004, the United States brought a WTO challenge to EU subsidies. The EU responded by challenging subsidies to Boeing by the United States. ************************************************************************************ Pilgrim's Pride Reaches Settlement on Price-Fixing Charges Pilgrim's Pride will pay more than $110 million in a plea agreement related to a chicken price-fixing investigation. The company entered a plea agreement with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division with respect to its investigation into the sales of broiler chicken products in the United States. In the plea agreement, which is subject to the approval of the United States District Court of Colorado, Pilgrim's and the Antitrust Division agreed to the fine for restraint of competition that affected three contracts for the sale of chicken products to one customer in the United States. The agreement does not recommend a monitor, any restitution or probationary period, and provides that the Antitrust Division will bring no further charges against Pilgrim’s in this matter, provided the company complies with the terms and provisions of the agreement. Pilgrim’s Pride CEO stated in the announcement, “Pilgrim’s is committed to fair and honest competition in compliance with U.S. antitrust laws.” ************************************************************************************ Trump Announces Subcabinet to Modernize Water Resource Management President Donald Trump this week signed an executive order seeking to modernize water management and infrastructure. The order creates a Water Policy Committee that the White House calls the Water Subcabinet. The subcabinet will be co-chaired by the Secretary of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator. The committee also includes the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, the Secretary of the Army, and the heads of other agencies. Of note for agriculture, the order seeks to improve coordination between state and federal governments and communities, farmers, ranchers and landowners, to “develop voluntary, market-based water and land management practices and programs that improve conservation efforts, economic viability, and water supply, sustainability, and security.” USDA Undersecretary Bill Northey says, “USDA has already taken the lead to invest in America’s wetlands,” adding that work improves water quality, soil health and wildlife habitat. The new effort will develop a national water strategy to ensure the reliability of water supplies, water quality, water systems, and water forecasting. ************************************************************************************ Study Promotes Food Security During Pandemic As the spread of coronavirus continues to disrupt the U.S. economy, low-income households face a higher risk of food insecurity. This risk is more pronounced in families with school-age children who rely on food assistance programs. As part of a grant from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, researchers studied emergency food provisions that serve children and families in five U.S. cities during the pandemic. While the federal government expanded funding for school breakfast and lunch programs and other food assistance programs in the spring of 2020, there was no federal mandate that the programs continue, or guidance for carrying them out. Thus, local governments devised their own plans to provide emergency food services to low-income families, to varying degrees of effectiveness. The results found that the success of emergency local programs depends on cross-sector collaboration among stakeholders, adaptable supply chains and addressing gaps in service to increased risk populations. The research concluded that more robust guidance from the federal government may improve the effectiveness of the responses.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 15, 2020 |


Washington Insider: WTO to Allow More Tariffs on US Products The New York Times and others are reporting this week that the WTO on Tuesday gave the European Union permission to impose tariffs on $4 billion worth of American products annually. The award is in retaliation for illegal subsidies given to the U.S. plane maker Boeing. The Times said the decision “could result in levies on American airplanes, agricultural products and other goods.” The finding, which stems from a 16-year fight, follows a parallel case that the United States brought against Europe over subsidies to its largest plane maker, Airbus. Last year, the U.S. imposed tariffs on European planes, wine, cheese and other products with WTO permission. The decision affected up to $7.5 billion of European exports annually. It remains to be seen whether the new tariffs will persuade the United States and Europe to come to a negotiated settlement – or merely inflame relations and result in higher costs on businesses and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic, the Times said. The European Union has repeatedly appealed to the United States to remove its tariffs, but American officials say Europe has not taken the necessary actions to stop its Airbus subsidies. The tariffs will not go into effect immediately. The EU needs to request authorization from the WTO to actually impose the levies, which it can do at an Oct. 26 meeting or it could request an earlier session which would require 10 days' notice. The European Commission last year issued a preliminary list of American products that it could choose to tax, including aircraft, chemicals, citrus fruit, frozen fish and ketchup. The tariffs, when American companies are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, would be especially painful for Boeing, which is already struggling from a pair of devastating crises. Both Boeing and Airbus had earlier announced plans to cut more than 10 percent of its global work force amid a steep decline in travel, which forced airlines to delay and scale back plans to buy planes. Both Boeing and Airbus plan to cut more than 30,000 jobs in all. Boeing also is still struggling with fallout from the 737 Max, a star of the company's fleet, which has been grounded worldwide since March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people. In January, the company estimated that the grounding, which could be lifted in the coming months, would cost it more than $18 billion. The company is also contending with quality concerns related to the 787 Dreamliner, a wide-body jet designed for long-distance flights. So far this year, Boeing customers have canceled 438 orders for the Max, with hundreds more orders removed from its books because of the low likelihood that they will be fulfilled, the company said Tuesday. After accounting for new sales and cancellations, Boeing has lost a net 381 orders for the year. The WTO decision on Tuesday focused on a Washington State tax break provided to Boeing and worth about $100 million a year. Lawmakers there repealed the tax break this year with Boeing's support, but the WTO said the subsidy had nevertheless harmed Airbus between 2012 and 2015. Airbus contends that Boeing continues to receive other preferential tax treatment from the state. “Airbus did not start this dispute, and we do not wish to continue the harm to the customers and suppliers of the aviation industry and to all other sectors impacted,” Guillaume Faury, the company's chief executive, said. “It is time to find a solution now so that tariffs can be removed on both sides of the Atlantic.” Boeing said it was “disappointed” that Airbus and the European Union had pursued the tariffs even after the tax break's repeal – but said the company hoped that both would focus “on good-faith efforts to resolve this long-running dispute.” The European Union had asked the WTO to authorize more than $8.5 billion in annual tariffs, while the United States said they should not exceed $412 million. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said “the United States is determined to find a resolution to this dispute that addresses the massive subsidies European governments have provided to Airbus and the harm to U.S. aerospace workers and businesses.” Valdis Dombrovskis, the European Commissioner for Trade, said that he has been “engaging with my American counterpart, Ambassador Lighthizer, and it is my hope that the U.S. will now drop the tariffs imposed on EU exports last year,” he said. “If it does not happen, we will be forced to exercise our rights and impose similar tariffs.” Ole Moehr, an associate director at the Atlantic Council's GeoEconomics Center, said that, in the short run, there were likely to be more barriers to trade than before, but that the ruling might ultimately “open the door for a trans-Atlantic trade détente.” “Both sides are waiting until the election is settled to re-engage and depending on the outcome we could see a ratcheting up of tensions before any potential deepening of trade ties,” Moehr said. “The Airbus-Boeing dispute is one of the keys to the entire trade relationship and today's decision, combined with the recession triggered by the pandemic, may change the calculus over the long term.” So, we will see. These very large trade disputes have the potential to affect trade far beyond the products that are the immediate focus – and, once again, both sides are deeply dug in regarding this particular fight, as they are on others. The U.S.-EU trade relationship will likely involve additional conflicts producers should watch closely as they emerge in the coming months, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 15, 2020 |


FSA Reminds Producers ARC/PLC Signup for 2021 Started This Week Signup for the Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) programs for the 2021 crop year started Tuesday, October, 13, USDA's Farm Service Agency said. Signup for the programs ends March 15, 2021. Options include electing coverage and enrolling in crop-by-crop ARC-Count or PLC, or the ARC-Individual for the entire farm. Election changes for 2021 are optional, FSA noted. For the 2022 and 2023 crop years, producers will be able to make a new election during those signups. While enrollment started for the 2021 ARC/PLC programs, USDA has begun processing payments under the ARC-County and PLC program on covered commodities that triggered payments for 2019 crops. Those payments total $5 billion. Under PLC, payments were triggered for the following commodities: barley, canola, chickpeas (small and large), corn, dry peas, grain sorghum, lentils, peanuts, seed cotton and wheat. Oats and soybeans did not trigger payments for the 2019 crop year.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 15, 2020 |


Pilgrim's Pride Announces Plea Agreement In Broiler/Chicken Sales Case Pilgrim's Pride announced late Tuesday that they have entered into a plea agreement with the Department of Justice Antitrust Division relative to the investigation of U.S. poultry companies regarding the sale of broiler chicken products. Pilgrim's Pride agreed to a fine of $110.5 million for “restraint of competition that affected three contracts for the sale of chicken products to one customer in the United States,” the firm said in a release announcing the agreement. Pilgrim's Pride would not face any further charges in the matter provided it complies with the terms and provisions of the agreement. “Pilgrim's is committed to fair and honest competition in compliance with U.S. antitrust laws,” said Fabio Sandri, Pilgrim's CEO. “We are encouraged that today's agreement concludes the Antitrust Division's investigation into Pilgrim's, providing certainty regarding this matter to our team members, suppliers, customers and shareholders.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 15, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday's lineup is different than usual due to Columbus Day, but still includes weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, both out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department releases natural gas inventory, followed by its report of weekly energy inventories at 10 a.m. The National Oilseeds Processors Association releases its estimate of September soybean crush later Thursday morning. USDA's weekly export sales report will be released Friday morning. Weather Light rain showers are in store for the eastern Midwest Thursday. Other primary crop areas will be dry with favorable harvest and wheat planting conditions. Freezing temperatures are indicated for portions of the Plains and Midwest overnight Thursday into Friday morning.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 14, 2020 |


UN Report: Huge Rise in Climate Disasters A United Nations report confirms how extreme weather events have come to dominate the disaster landscape in the 21st century. Between 2000 and 2019, there were more than 7,300 major recorded disaster events claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people, resulting in approximately $2.97 trillion in global economic losses. This is a sharp increase over the previous twenty years. Between 1980 and 1999, 4,200 disasters were linked to natural hazards worldwide. UN Secretary-General António Guterres (guh-ter-rez) responded, “COVID-19 has shown us that systemic risk requires international cooperation,” adding good disaster risk governance means acting on science and evidence. Much of the difference is explained by a rise in climate-related disasters, including extreme weather events. The last twenty years have seen the number of major floods more than double, to more than 3,200, while the incidence of storms grew from 1,400 to just over 2,000. The report "The Human Cost of Disasters 2000-2019" also records major increases in other categories, including drought, wildfires and extreme temperature events. ************************************************************************************ NMPF: All Dairy Farmers Should Sign Up for DMC The National Milk Producers Federation urges all dairy farmers to sign up for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program. Enrollment in the program administered by the Department of Agriculture opened Tuesday. NMPF cites the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and the expectation of volatile dairy margins in the next year, in the need for DMC protection. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says, “Coronavirus-related volatility in dairy markets is expected to continue well into 2021, with DMC payments a possibility.” DMC, the main risk-protection tool for dairy farmers enacted in the 2018 farm bill, is designed to promote stable revenues and protect against financial catastrophe on some or all of a farmer’s milk. Despite forecasts in late 2019 predicting that DMC assistance would not be needed by farmers in 2020, margins instead fell to their lowest levels in more than a decade in the first half of this year, triggering payments that kept many dairies afloat. NMPF says DMC coverage offers certainty in times of need, allowing for better financial planning and faster payment when necessary. ************************************************************************************ New Program Seeks to Close Gaps in US Hemp Supply Chain High Grade Hemp Seed this week introduced a Farm Partner Program seeking to make consistent, compliant production a reality for the U.S. hemp market. Co-created by Center Pivot Group, the new Farm Partner Program will provide an infrastructure for hemp producers that guarantees a price for hemp flower at harvest. The harvested hemp must be grown in accordance with guidelines laid out in the partnership agreement. The program will roll out immediately in the U.S., primarily in California, Colorado, Minnesota., New York, Oregon, and Texas, before looking towards international markets. Initially, the partnership will be open to experienced hemp farmers who purchase High Grade Hemp Seed genetics. Contracts for biomass will be based on the trading value of hemp seed at purchase, with a revenue split after harvest between High Grade Hemp Seed and the farmer. According to Global Market Insights, the worldwide market for CBD is expected to reach $89 billion by 2026. ************************************************************************************ AEM Releases September 2020 Ag Equipment Sales Numbers All segments of ag equipment sales grew in September 2020, continuing a positive trend for the year, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 21.6 percent in September compared to 2019, while combine sales grew 8.2 percent. Four-wheel-drive units increased for the second month in a row in September, up 21.4 percent, cutting the year-to-date deficit almost in half. For Canada, September tractor sales were up across all segments as well, leading to an overall gain in tractor sales of 25.1 percent for the month and 8.9 percent year to date. Combines sales grew 9.5 percent for the month, while year to date unit sales remain 9.4 percent behind their 2019 pace. Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services for AEM, says, "we're cautiously optimistic that this year may end up strong despite all of the headwinds in the market." AEM is the North America-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers worldwide in agriculture and construction-related industry sectors. ************************************************************************************ Green Plains Sells Remaining Cattle Business Green Plains Inc. Tuesday announced the sale of its remaining 50 percent joint venture interest in Green Plains Cattle Company. The company sold its share of the venture to a group of investment funds that include AGR Partners and StepStone Group, among others, for approximately $80 million. Green Plains entered the cattle feeding industry in June 2014, with the purchase of Supreme Cattle Feeders, a 70,000-head feedyard in Kansas. Over the past six years, Green Plains Cattle Company grew to become the fourth-largest cattle feeder in the United States with a total capacity of more than 355,000 head of cattle across six feedlots in Colorado, Kansas and Texas. CEO Todd Becker stated the sale allows the company to “redeploy capital to support our long-term objective of building a technology-focused biorefining platform, producing sustainable, high-value, high-protein ingredients the market need.” Green Plains Inc. is a diversified commodity-processing business with operations that include corn processing, grain handling and storage and commodity marketing and logistics services. ************************************************************************************ National FFA, DEKALB Partner on Winning Has Roots Scholarship The National FFA Organization and DEKALB brand corn will unite on October 18 at the NASCAR race in Kansas. The partnership includes the unveiling of the DEKALB FFA Ford Mustang driven by Clint Bowyer, with dual historical wings for both the FFA emblem and DEKALB. FFA and DEKALB are focused on improving the future of agriculture, and together will offer students the opportunity to qualify for the Winning Has Roots scholarship. The scholarship will help one qualified student fund their continued education. The scholarship amount will be determined by the number of laps Bowyer completes at the Hollywood Casino 400. A base amount of $6,400 is to be awarded to the recipient, with an increase of $14 for every lap Bowyer completes. If all 267 laps are completed, the scholarship will increase to $10,138. If Bowyer wins the race, the scholarship will be increased to $14,000. Final scholarship amount, details and next steps will be announced following the October 18 race.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 14, 2020 |


Washington Insider: IMF Meets as Global Recession Threats Grow The International Monetary Fund and World Bank are holding their annual meetings, with both calling on the Group of 20 largest economies to “extend a freeze in debt payments from the world's poorest nations that's set to expire at year end.” Bloomberg is reporting this week that “the guardians of the global economy will meet this week under the cloud of the worst recession since the Great Depression—at the same time the recovery increasingly depends on development of a coronavirus vaccine.” The IMF has been encouraging governments to spend whatever they need to confront the crisis, even while warning that “debt as a percentage of GDP will rise to about 100% for the first time.” Fund officials earlier this month proposed reforms to debt restructuring for countries that struggle to meet obligations, a burden expected to rise as the pandemic batters economies. Debt vulnerabilities will be a key theme of the meetings, according to first deputy managing director Geoffrey Okamoto. The G-20 agreed in April to waive billions of dollars in repayments by poorer nations until the end of the year under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative. However, the World Bank now says this isn't enough and wants borrowings reduced to prevent a bigger fallout. The IMF has also been working to figure out how to transfer existing reserve assets known as special drawing rights from rich countries that don't need them to poorer nations that do. A proposal to create $500 billion in SDRs was blocked in April by the U.S., the fund's biggest shareholder, which criticized the plan as “inefficient.” The report cites Tom Orlik, Bloomberg's chief economist who says that “with the virus count rising again in Europe, and stalled stimulus negotiations in the U.S., a better than expected third quarter is becoming a worse than expected fourth. Looking into 2021, “hopes for a strong rebound depend on containing the second wave of infections, a stimulus breakthrough in Washington DC, and widespread delivery of a vaccine by mid-year.” The report cycles through details of the outlook for selected regions and, especially toward Friday when a number of U.S. economic indicators will be released including for September retail sales and industrial production and the Michigan consumer sentiment survey for early October. Looking to Asia, the calendar includes the scheduled return in China from the “Golden Week Holidays” with trade data on Tuesday expected to show the export recovery continuing and inflation data on Thursday likely to show a moderation in price growth. Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea and Sri Lanka have monetary policy meetings scheduled through the week. On Thursday, a speech from the Reserve Bank of Australia Governor will be closely watched for any signals he's preparing to add stimulus, while employment data for September will be released. As the report considers conditions in Asia, Europe, Middle East, Africa, it notes that any surprisingly bad reading of UK labor-market data this week will likely convince a minority of skeptics that more stimulus from the Bank of England is all but inevitable. By contrast, data in Sweden, which adopted much lighter virus restrictions than the rest of Europe, will reveal whether the trend of decreasing joblessness there will continue. Also, in eastern Europe, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania and Serbia all release inflation data in the days ahead. Central bank officials from across Europe are expected to take part at the IMF and World Bank meetings. In addition, European Central Bank Chief Economist Philip Lane and Governing Council members Francois Villeroy de Galhau, Robert Holzmann and Pablo Hernandez de Cos speak at an event on rising public debt and how to cope with it. Turkish data is likely to show that the nation ran a current-account deficit for a ninth straight month, as households hoard imported gold and foreign currencies to protect against lira depreciation and inflation. In Latin America, the IMF last week urged Mexico to boost government stimulus to speed up a weak recovery and output and manufacturing figures posted Monday should underscore that point. However, in Brazil, a less stringent lockdown and the government's massive income support has buoyed demand, suggesting the August economic activity reading out Thursday will be consistent with that of a gradual recovery. While inflation is picking up again across the region, it has never gone away in Argentina: analysts expect monthly rates of just under 3% and annual rates near 40%. Chile's economy is struggling, Bloomberg says, but the central bank's key rate is at a record-low 0.5%. It expects policy makers to keep it there for a seventh month when they meet Thursday. So, we will see. Clearly, many of the trends being evaluated depend heavily on the success of efforts to control the ravages of the pandemic — including a new round of payments for U.S. producers — important efforts that producers should watch closely as they proceed, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 14, 2020 |


WHIP-Plus Remains Lawmaker Focus USDA last Friday finally released some information about the much-delayed and complex Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus (WHIP-Plus) program, with promises for more info ahead. But Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said that while USDA's announcement was “better late than never,” the fact it took nearly a year to get to this point was “unacceptable.” While lamenting he should not have to “hold FSA's feet to the fire just to get them to follow the law and do right by folks in production ag,” he pledged he will be “keeping the coals hot and ready so Montana farmers don't get left out in the cold. Disaster relief needs to make it into the pockets of these producers immediately — no more delays.” USDA announced the end of signup will be October 30, but it has approved the use of a register even though they stressed that is not an extension of signup as no more names can be added to a register after close of business October 30.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 14, 2020 |


CFAP Payouts Continue to Rise Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP 1) totaled $10.22 billion as of October 11, including $5.0 billion for livestock, $2.6 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.8 billion for dairy, $769 million for specialty crops and $108 million for aqua, nursery and flora crops. As for CFAP 2, USDA said that payments as of October 13 total $4.5 billion as of October 13, including $2.4 billion in acreage-based payments, $1.3 billion for livestock, $452 million for dairy, $376 million for sales commodities and $109 million for eggs/broilers. By commodity, $1.4 billion has gone for corn (21.2% of the total), $1.0 billion for cattle, $534 million for soybeans and $452 million for milk. On a state level, $449 million has been paid out in Iowa, $352 million in Illinois, $347 million in Nebraska, $343 million in Minnesota, and $277 million in Wisconsin.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 14, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets On Wednesday, the Labor Department's report of U.S. producer prices at 7:30 a.m. CDT is the only official item on the docket. Traders will continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales. The Energy Department's weekly inventory report will be released Thursday, due to Columbus Day. Weather Light rain is in store across the Northern Plains and the northern Midwest Wednesday, bringing some delay to harvest. Other crop areas will be dry with favorable harvest conditions. Southern Plains wheat fields have no rain indicated during the balance of the week. In the Pacific Ocean, La Nina shows strengthening to moderate intensity.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 13, 2020 |


U.S. Dairy Advances Journey to Net Zero Carbon Emissions by 2050 The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy Monday unveiled the Net Zero Initiative. The industry-wide effort will help U.S. dairy farms of all sizes and geographies implement new technologies and adopt economically viable practices. The initiative is a critical component of U.S. dairy’s environmental stewardship goals. The plan is endorsed by dairy industry leaders and farmers to achieve carbon neutrality, optimized water usage and improved water quality by 2050. The organization also announced a key milestone on its journey toward carbon neutrality, an up to $10 million commitment and multi-year partnership with Nestlé to support the initiative and scale access to environmental practices and resources on U.S. farms. The goals include becoming carbon neutral or better, optimize water use while maximizing recycling, and improve water quality by optimizing utilization of manure and nutrients. Officials say dairy companies and farms are already contributing to the goals in individual ways, and the dairy community will continue those efforts through the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment. ************************************************************************************ AEM Announces Sustainability Council The Association of Equipment Monday announced a Sustainability Council. The council is comprised of leaders from AEM member companies. The council will help advance AEM member-efforts in addressing issues of sustainability and provide a framework for the adoption of best practices and innovation. Curt Blades, senior vice president of Ag Services at AEM, says, "The Sustainability Council will work to spark ideas for establishing sustainability priorities for the equipment manufacturing industry and provide a framework that supports best practices for a more viable world." The association has worked to address societal and safety issues on behalf of the industry for more than a century. Those efforts include the health and well-being of the industry, economic growth and security and industry innovation. The announcement states, “We recognize our industry’s connection to the natural environment and are dedicated to minimizing our operational impact, adding, “our future as an industry depends on the responsible use of natural resources.” ************************************************************************************ Study: COVID-19 Present Opportunity for Online Agricultural Retailers COVID-19 is having a huge impact on farmers' purchasing practices, according to new research by leading global consultancy, McKinsey & Company. The survey of financial decision-makers at farms across Europe reveals that 95 percent of farms are considering adjusting purchasing behavior to minimize physical interactions in response to the pandemic. Digital purchasing may provide the answer, with McKinsey uncovering an increase in both farmers' desire to use digital channels to make product-purchase decisions, up from 51 percent in 2019 to 87 percent post-COVID-19, and their desire to use digital channels to make actual purchases reaching 69 percent. However, researchers say only 22 percent of farmers surveyed have made an online purchase over the past 12 months as of May. As attitudes shift in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, companies in the agriculture industry have an opportunity to accelerate their online presence, work out omnichannel strategies, and perhaps even change their business models to better meet farmers' needs. ************************************************************************************ 2021 National Biodiesel Conference and Expo Goes Virtual The National Biodiesel Conference and Expo is going virtual for the 2021 event January 18-21. The event is going online to share the latest biodiesel and renewable diesel industry news, highlight key speakers, and showcase industry sponsor companies. The virtual event will be accessible to everyone, sharing the industry’s message from coast to coast through a new, safe format that will rise to meet the needs of all attendees. The event is one of many in early 2021 pivoting to a virtual platform due to COVID-19 concerns. NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen says, “we can't wait to kick off a new year in 2021 with our members and key industry partners during our first-ever virtual conference.” The conference includes topics on low-carbon fuels, bioheat, the Renewable Fuel Standard, and the changing landscape for diesel vehicles, among many others. Registration is open for the 2021 National Biodiesel Conference & Expo online at biodieselconference.org. ************************************************************************************ No Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo in 2021 The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo's executive committee voted unanimously last week to cancel the 2021 Show scheduled for January 15 through February 6. Event leadership says, “the challenges we face to create practical and enforceable protocols and procedures to comply with COVID-19 guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are extremely daunting.” More than 30,000 animals are typically exhibited, in addition to approximately 2,300 participants in the competitions and exhibitions. Daily Stock Show attendance can exceed 140,000 people that crowd into buildings at the Will Rogers Memorial Center. Consultations with infectious disease professionals and public health professionals indicate the Stock Show would rank as a “very high risk” for spread of COVID-19, potentially impacting populations and healthcare systems. In a statement, organizers say, “We feel a responsibility to be proactive.” The only other time a Stock Show was canceled was 1943, near the height of World War II. ************************************************************************************ October 13 is Global Fertilizer Day Today, Tuesday, October 13, is Global Fertilizer Day, as proclaimed by The Fertilizer Institute. TFI describes the day as an annual event seeking to educate people about the fertilizer industry and its contribution to feeding the global population. TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch says, “We feed the world, we do it sustainably, and we are proud of the women and men working in our industry to make it all happen.” In years past, facilities have opened their doors to local school students, elected officials and the public for facility tours and presentations. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 celebrations have gone mostly virtual. TFI and the Nutrients for Life Foundation are jointly hosting a virtual learning event Today (Tuesday) focused on workforce development by highlighting available career pathways in the fertilizer industry. TFI is also helping the industry spread the word through social media channels. Learn more about the effort online at tfi.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 13, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Wrangling Over a New Stimulus Politico is reporting this week that top Trump administration officials are working to repurpose some previously approved PPP money and that the “latest salvo in a week of twists and turns in talks between the White House and congressional leaders on a new round,” continues to unfold. “Now is the time for us to come together and immediately vote on a bill to allow us to spend the unused Paycheck Protection Program funds while we continue to work toward a comprehensive package,” White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote on Sunday to members of the House and Senate. “The all-or-nothing approach is an unacceptable response to the American people.” The letter follows a “number of mixed signals from the administration” over the past week — including a break in stimulus talks by the president — and then a reversal of course on “a variety of relief measures.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Sunday rejected the latest $1.8 trillion stimulus offer from Mnuchin. Many Senate Republicans, meanwhile, say they are wary of greenlighting yet another hefty relief package. Meadows and Mnuchin reserved their criticism for the Democratic-led House for passing two massive relief bills largely along party lines “instead of compromising with us on bipartisan legislation like we have done in the past.” “We will continue to try to work with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer,” the pair wrote. “It is not just about the top-line number but also about legislation that can be passed by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by the president to help the American people.” The two sides continue to differ on a wide range of issues, including the overall price tag of the next package. The latest Democratic proposal clocked in at $2.2 trillion, about $400 billion more than the latest White House offer, Politico said. White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Sunday that Secretary Mnuchin could make a larger stimulus offer to Democrats after Trump said on Friday that he wanted a larger relief package than either party has offered. In a TV interview, CNN host Jake Tapper had pressed Kudlow on whether the Treasury secretary — who is spearheading the stimulus talks with Pelosi—would offer more than the $2.2 trillion package the House passed earlier this month. “He may. He may,” Kudlow said of Mnuchin. “Secretary Mnuchin is up to $1.8 trillion. So, the bid and the offer is narrowing somewhat between the two sides.” “President Trump actually has always said... as far as the key elements are concerned, the checks, the unemployment assistance, the small-business assistance — we have got to help airlines out—he would go further,” Kudlow added. “So, I think Secretary Mnuchin, who is a very good negotiator, will be carrying the president's message.” The president had abruptly cut off relief talks with House leaders last week, saying his administration wouldn't negotiate until after the election. But soon after that, the president called on lawmakers to approve individual relief measures, including another round of stimulus checks and aid to airlines. And, on Friday, the president said he “would like to see a bigger stimulus package, frankly, than either the Democrats or Republicans are offering.” His comments came amid the new, $1.8 trillion offer by Mnuchin to Democrats. In a letter to House Democrats on Sunday, Speaker Pelosi rejected the latest offer, arguing that it “does not meet the health needs” of the pandemic. She added that until differences on what is in the packages can be bridged, “we remain at an impasse.” Kudlow, meanwhile, downplayed Senate Republican opposition to a new multitrillion-dollar stimulus and indicated that the GOP would go along if a deal were struck between the White House and Democrats. “Don't forget, the Republicans in the Senate put up their own bill a few weeks ago and got 53 votes, I think it was. So, they united,” he said. “I think, if an agreement can be reached, they will go along with it.” Still, during the CNN interview, Kudlow and Tapper sparred over the political dynamics of passing another large aid package. Kudlow blamed Democrats for holding up a deal, but Tapper pressed the White House economic adviser on entrenched resistance from Senate Republicans. “I don't understand the intransigence from my Democratic friends,” Kudlow said. “Well, I'm not talking about your Democratic friends,” Tapper replied. “I'm talking about 20 Senate Republicans who were mad at Secretary Mnuchin and saying that the proposal of $1.8 trillion was way too much. They called it a death knell.” In addition, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has expressed skepticism that a massive new relief package could pass the Senate in the coming weeks. He's focused the chamber's attention on confirming Trump's Supreme Court pick, Amy Coney Barrett. Many Republicans have also raised the specter of an expanding budget deficit after lawmakers enacted trillions in pandemic aid in the spring. The Senate GOP rolled out a narrower relief bill in September, but the measure was blocked by Democrats. So, we will see. There appears to be strong support for further coronavirus stimulus, but the fog of politics is almost impossible to penetrate as the runup to next month's elections proceeds. And, the economic uncertainty is intensified by concerns that the recovery may well be slowing more than anticipated. Certainly, these are trends and issues producers should continue to watch very closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 13, 2020 |


Britain Acts To Prevent Vote On Imports Of Chlorinated Chicken, Hormone-Fed Beef The British government will use an “obscure” rule to prevent lawmakers from a vote aimed at blocking imports of chlorinated chicken and hormone-fed beef, according to a report in the Independent newspaper. This would defeat an attempt to give powers to a new watchdog at a time when the EU is worried Britain's post-Brexit trade deals, particularly with the U.S., could ease food and animal welfare standards. The U.S. has long said EU restrictions on both fronts are not based on science. But there has been significant resistance on the topics from within the UK to a degree but more specifically in the broader EU that the UK is in the process of leaving.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 13, 2020 |


FSA says WHIP-Plus applications due October 30 USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) said that October 30 is now the deadline for affected producers to submit applications for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program – Plus (WHIP-Plus) for 2018 and 2019 losses. USDA did not originally specify a deadline when the program was announced. FSA will launch a new tool on the farmers.gov WHIP-Plus webpage to help producers understand eligibility for the program and whether they had possible losses in 2018 and 2019. The tool will also allow producers an opportunity to provide information for FSA staff to reach out to them. FSA will announce soon the details for producers who experienced quality loss from 2018 and 2019 natural disaster events authorized in appropriations legislation. There will be a separate signup period for producers reporting quality loss. FSA has received more than 133,000 applications for WHIP-Plus disaster assistance and paid out nearly $1.4 billion in WHIP-Plus benefits.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 13, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday's reports begin at 7:30 a.m. CDT when the Labor Department releases its update of consumer prices for September. Due to Columbus Day, USDA's weekly grain inspections report will be released at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by USDA's crop progress report at 3 p.m. CDT. The latest weather forecasts continue to get widespread attention as do any reports of export sales that may surface. Weather Dry and warm conditions will cover the entire central and southeastern U.S. Tuesday. This combination will favor row crop harvest along with hurricane damage recovery in the south. Moisture will be confined to rain and some mixed precipitation in the Northwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 12, 2020 |


U.S. Economy Still Sputtering as Ag Economy Showing Signs of Life CoBank says the U.S. economy has shown signs of improving since late spring. However, progress has slowed, and the economy remains fragile. As another relief package is off and then on the table, for now, CoBank says the economy will remain sluggish through the end of the year. A new Quarterly Report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange says rural America is experiencing a dichotomy of improving industry fundamentals and a rise in COVID cases. “The good news, from an economic standpoint, is that many rural industries have begun to turn the corner,” says Dan Kowalski, vice president of CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division. “This is particularly true in agriculture. A weaker dollar has supported a price recovery in most agricultural commodities.” He says despite a large number of challenges this year, essential rural industries are finding new ways to survive, and in some cases, thrive.” For example, the U.S. ethanol sector continued to recover during the third quarter, reaching a new baseline level equivalent to 90 percent of pre-COVID demand. CoBank also says recent reductions in ending stocks and expected production have provided a relief rally for U.S. grain farmers. Dairy farmers and the U.S. beef complex also ended the third quarter in a stronger position than when they started quarter number three. *****************************************t***************************************************** Perdue Fined for Hatch Act Violations While Promoting Food Boxes USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue violated the Hatch Act in August because he encouraged voters to support the president’s re-election campaign while promoting food boxes. The event took place in Mills River, North Carolina, and was designed to promote the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel sent a letter to Perdue saying the ag secretary has to reimburse the federal government for the cost of the trip to North Carolina. President Trump attended the event, during which Perdue said the people lined up along the motorcade route were “part of those forgotten people that voted for you in 2016.” Perdue also told the president that those same people will vote for him for four more years in 2020. “They understand, under your administration, they’ve not been forgotten,” he added, “and this program is a great example of that.” The Hatch Act bars federal employees, even Cabinet members, from engaging in political activity while at work. “Taken as a whole, Secretary Perdue’s comments during the event encouraged those present, and those watching remotely, to vote for President Trump’s re-election,” the Hatch Act unit’s chief counsel wrote in the letter. The Ag Department didn’t respond to The Hill’s request for comment and didn’t provide an estimate of the cost of the trip that Perdue must now reimburse. ********************************************************************************************** WASDE Lowers Corn and Soybean Harvest Projections and Stocks As expected, the October World Ag Supply and Demand Report shows lower U.S. corn and soybean production, as well as lower stocks of commodities. Corn production is forecast at 14.722 billion bushels, 178 million bushels lower than the previous month. Corn yield declined slightly to 178.4 bushels per acre. Corn supplies are forecast down sharply from last month, thanks to a smaller crop and lower beginning stocks. The corn price rose 10 cents to $3.60 a bushel. Soybean production is forecast at 4.3 billion bushels, down 45 million bushels on a lower harvested area, and the yield is projected at 51.9 bushels per acre, unchanged from last month. Soybean supplies are forecast at 4.8 billion bushels, down 96 million on lower production and beginning stocks. The soybean price is forecast at $9.80 a bushel, 55 cents higher than September, due to smaller supplies and higher exports. USDA says wheat supplies are reduced by 32 million bushels from the previous month on the combination of lower beginning stocks and production. Projected ending stocks dropped by 42 million bushels to 883 million, which would be the lowest ending stocks in six years. The season-average farm price is up 20 cents a bushel to $4.70. ********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Producers Investing in Hand Sanitizer for the Long Term COVID-19 brought about a collapse in fuel demand across the U.S., pushing many ethanol facilities to either slow down or halt their production. Reuters says many ethanol facilities switched their focus from producing ethanol to manufacturing high-grade alcohol hand sanitizers. Demand for the product skyrocketed during COVID as Americans hurried to grab protection against the coronavirus. Several companies are beginning to view the hand sanitizer market as more than a temporary band-aid against lower demand for fuel. Many are making permanent investments in the production of high-grade alcohol that meets standards for producing the sanitizer. Companies like Pacific Ethanol, Green Plains, and Highwater Ethanol have all said they’re boosting the capacity to produce high-grade alcohol. Those announcements seem to indicate that some producers see more profitability in hand cleanliness because of COVID-19 than they do in transportation fuels. Fuel ethanol production around the country has bounced back from the spring doldrums, hitting 923,000 barrels per day, up from 537,000 in April. The Energy Information Administration says that the number is still four percent lower than the same time last year. ********************************************************************************************** Texas Representative Wants FSA Offices “Fully Reopened” Texas Representative Jodey Arrington recently sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Secretary Sonny Perdue regarding Farm Service Agency offices. Arrington is asking the agency to reexamine and update their COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures and safely reopen their local Farm Service Agency offices. The 19th-District Representative says those offices are critical to our hardworking agricultural producers, providing access to vital programs like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program and the Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program. Their continued closures have caused frustrating and worrisome delays for those seeking the help they need. “While federal reopening regulations were necessary during the early stages of the pandemic, they now effectively prohibit necessary entities from physically reopening and processing vitally important applications for relief programs,” Arrington says. “Our local FSA offices need the flexibility to open and allow our patient agriculture producers access to vital resources.” While ensuring the health and safety of employees is important, Arrington says we must also find a way for these offices to open safely for the sake of the nation’s farmers and ranchers. ********************************************************************************************** Farmers Union Not Happy with CSP Final Rule The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service released their final rule to update the Conservation Stewardship Program, which the agency was directed to do in the 2018 Farm Bill. “With the help of feedback from our agricultural producers and others in the industry, NRCS has prioritized the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, including important changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program, which is designed to help farmers put more robust conservation activities in place,” says acting NRCS boss Kevin Norton. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says there are some improvements in the final rule, especially in its inclusion of soil health as a priority. “However, the rule does not elaborate on how this goal will be achieved,” Larew says in the Hagstrom Report. “We want the agency to provide more specifics about how the program will help farmers build soil health to help sequester atmospheric carbon, increase yields, and prevent erosion.” Another aspect of the rule NFU is concerned about includes the evaluation process giving preference to first-time applicants over previous participants, which Larew says basically penalizes those who’ve taken part in long-term stewardship.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 12, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Largest Banks Flush With Cash The nation's largest banks are being more cautious with their lending than they have been in at least the past 35 years, Bloomberg reports. Cash, treasuries and other securities effectively guaranteed by the federal government now make up more than 35% of the combined balance sheets of the 25 biggest U.S. banks, according to the Federal Reserve. That's the biggest share going back to 1985, and is 5.5 percentage points higher than the five-year average. Loans and leases now account for less than half of big banks' books for the first time on record, spurred by what appears to be a combination of lower borrower demand and lenders tightening their standards as the coronavirus pandemic drags on. The cautious stance will fuel debate over whether giant firms are prudently guarding against a worst-case scenario or exacerbating the pain by slowing the flow of credit, Bloomberg said. “The banks have been flooded with deposits and have nowhere to put it,” said Brian Foran, an analyst at Autonomous Research. “Healthy companies don't want to borrow because the future is still uncertain. Struggling companies would like to borrow to stay afloat, but as a bank it's hard lending to those sectors.” Next week, the largest U.S. banks, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc., will report their third-quarter financial results—and will detail their lending activities over the past three months. Investors will be listening for executives' commentary on how their customers are faring during the COVID-19 crisis. The KBW Bank Index has slumped 30% this year, fueled by Citigroup's 44% decline and Wells Fargo & Co.'s 53% drop. The S&P 500, meanwhile, has gained 6.7%. Hopes that U.S. economic growth would quickly rebound following widespread shutdowns in the spring have largely faded, with economists not expecting a turnaround until the second quarter of 2021, Bloomberg said. The pullback in lending comes despite some $525 billion in forgivable small-business loans under the federal Paycheck Protection Program, launched in response to the pandemic. Had the banks kept the mix of loans to securities and cash they've had in the past five years, the flood of deposits would've meant an extra $635 billion of loans for consumers and businesses, the figures suggest. Bankers are arguing that businesses have less need for credit, whether in the form of commercial and industrial loans or commercial real estate financing, according to the latest comprehensive survey of banks' senior loan officers. Households have been clamoring for home mortgages, loan officers said but there's less demand for other forms of financing, such as credit cards and auto loans. When compared with the range of lending standards that have prevailed since 2005, the heyday of lax mortgage requirements, most large banks told the Fed they're stricter now in doling out credit to all types of borrowers, with few exceptions. Almost half of large banks surveyed said that they're about as restrictive as they've ever been in the past 15 years when it comes to providing credit cards to subprime borrowers. PNC Financial Services Group Chief Executive Officer William Demchak told investors last month that his bank's lending probably would fall by close to 5% in the third quarter from the previous three months, a far steeper drop than the roughly 1% decline he predicted in July. More than 800,000 Americans have filed for initial unemployment benefits every week since March, nearly quadruple the weekly average in the previous five years, according to the Labor Department. Almost a quarter of Americans expect someone in their household to experience a pay cut within four weeks, while nearly a third say it's been difficult to pay for usual household expenses, according to the latest Census Bureau survey. Since the end of February, the largest banks' balance sheets have expanded by $1.3 trillion, thanks to a flood of deposits and an ongoing Fed campaign to buy government-backed bonds, mostly through the largest lenders. The banks in turn have channeled that money into growing their stockpile of cash and government-backed securities by $1.1 trillion. At Zions Bancorp NA, there's been virtually no increase in lending aside from forgivable loans to small businesses under the Paycheck Protection Program, President Scott J. McLean said at an industry conference last month. “I'm not going to apologize for our loans being flat to down,” he said. “There's obviously limited economic activity.” So, we will see. In recent days, anti-corona virus stimulus measures have faced increased pushback as legislators attempt to pass new efforts into law. And, in these toxic political moments, any suggestion that the very large banking institutions that are being charged with the delivery of crucial economic interventions are falling short in their responsibilities likely will be the focus of bitter criticism. Thus, producers should watch very closely as next week's report emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 12, 2020 |


USDA Publishes Final Rule On Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) USDA has published the final rule for the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) which makes changes to the program called for under the 2018 Farm Bill and also reflects the more-than 600 comments that were received on the initial rule for the program. USDA said that the reduced funding for the program could result in higher environmental benefits since the focus will be on those CSP efforts that provide a higher degree of environmental results.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 12, 2020 |


Office of Special Counsel Rebukes Perdue For North Carolina Visit A North Carolina stop by USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue was a violation of the Hatch Act when he urged those at the Mills River, North Carolina, event that they could get four more years of the “decider-in-chief” if they voted for President Donald Trump, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. They said that there will be no disciplinary action against Perdue if he quickly reimburses the government for the travel costs that were paid by the U.S. Treasury. The law generally bars federal employees from engaging in political activities while on duty, but exempts the president and vice president. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington brought the complaint against Perdue. Prior violations of the Hatch Act by Trump administration officials have resulted in the Trump campaign providing the government with reimbursement.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 12, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets U.S. futures markets are open Monday, Columbus Day, but the federal government is not. USDA's weekly inspections report and Crop Progress report will take place Tuesday, but USDA is planning to put out daily livestock reports. As usual, the latest weather forecasts and any trade news will be watched closely. Weather Showers and thunderstorms will move across the western and northern Midwest Monday with harvest disruption and possible wind damage. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Hot, dry and windy conditions over the weekend further stressed early-developing wheat in the Southern Plains. The Australia Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) 30-day average is plus 12.3, with the 90-day average at plus 8.5. These readings indicate a moderate La Nina in the Pacific Ocean.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 9, 2020 |


USDA Announces Biofuels Investment to Increase Sales The Department of Agriculture touted biofuels investments in Iowa Thursday. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced USDA has invested $22 million out of the up to $100 million in grants available to increase U.S. ethanol and biodiesel sales. The funds were made available through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to recipients in 14 states. The program helps transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities convert to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to installing fuel pumps, equipment and infrastructure. The initial $22 million in investments are projected to increase ethanol demand by nearly 150 million gallons annually. USDA plans on announcing the remaining investments in the coming weeks. On the same day, Rural America 2020 flew a plane carrying a banner over select Iowa cities. the banner read, “Trump Sold Out Ethanol for Big Oil.” The group cites Trump administration waivers to oil companies to avoid ethanol requirements that have depressed ethanol demand. ************************************************************************************ Trump Administration Invests $72 Million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue Wednesday announced $72 million in grants to help rural residents access health care and educational opportunities. The Department of Agriculture says the investments will benefit more than 12 million rural residents. Perdue stated, “Increasing access to telemedicine and distance learning is critical to building healthier and more resilient rural communities.” USDA is funding 116 projects through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine grant program. The program helps health care and education institutions buy the equipment and software necessary to deploy distance-learning and telemedicine services. Perdue announced investments in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. One of the noted projects in Texas, the Epic Charter School is receiving a $969,000 grant to link urban schools in Oklahoma and Texas with rural schools, students and community partners in both states. In Kentucky, the Bluegrass Care Navigators will use a $500,000 grant to establish a regional telemedicine network with a hub site at its headquarters in Lexington. ************************************************************************************ Red Meat Muscle Cut Exports Strong in August August exports of U.S. beef and pork muscle cuts were above last year's strong volumes, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Variety meat exports were lower than a year ago, due in part to the lack of available labor required to harvest and export some items. Beef muscle cut exports were the largest in more than a year at 89,100 metric tons, up 3.5 percent, while export value increased slightly from a year ago to $611 million. August muscle cut exports also set new records in China and Indonesia and beef exports to Canada continued to gain momentum. Combined pork and pork variety meat exports were down two percent in volume and ten percent lower in value at $528 million. However, U.S. pork exports remain on a record pace in 2020. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom calls the trend in muscle cuts “very encouraging and especially critical” as production continues to rebound from the interruptions earlier in the year. ************************************************************************************ DMC Enrollment Begins Tuesday Enrollment for the Dairy Margin Coverage Program opens Tuesday. The Department of Agriculture announced the enrollment period this week, set for Tuesday, October 13, through December 11, 2020. The Dairy Margin Coverage Program, known as DMC, is a voluntary risk management program that offers dairy producers protection when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed price, the margin, falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. DMC payments triggered for seven months in 2019 and three months so far in 2020. More than 23,000 operations enrolled in DMC in 2019, and more than 13,000 in 2020. To determine the appropriate coverage level for a specific dairy operation, producers can utilize the recently updated online dairy decision tool. The decision tool is designed to help producers calculate total premium costs and administrative fees associated with participation in DMC. For more information and to access the decision tool, visit farmers.gov. ************************************************************************************ Six More Indicted on Antitrust Charges in Broiler Chicken Investigation Six additional defendants were indicted for their roles in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products. The indictment also charges one defendant with making false statements and obstruction of justice. A federal grand jury in the U.S. District Court in Denver, Colorado, returned the superseding indictment this week. A Justice Department official says. “Executives who choose collusion over competition will be held to account for schemes that cheat consumers and corrupt our competitive markets.” The three-count superseding indictment charges ten executives and employees at major broiler chicken producers for their participation in the conspiracy from 2012 through early 2019. The six additional defendants include William Lovette, former President and CEO of Pilgrim's Pride. Others are also from Pilgrim's Pride, Claxton Poultry Farms, and Perdue Farms. This case is the result of an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price-fixing, bid-rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry. ************************************************************************************ Wisconsin Mink Test Positive for Coronavirus Dead mink on a Wisconsin mink farm have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection, the virus that causes COVID-19 in humans. The National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the infection Thursday, the first among Wisconsin’s mink population. All animals are now quarantined on the farm, meaning no animals or animal products may leave the premise. The response includes appropriate carcass disposal, cleaning and disinfecting the animal areas, and protecting human and animal health. Wisconsin is the second state with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 at a mink farm. Utah confirmed its first cases on August 17. There is currently no evidence that animals, including mink, play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 to humans. However, people infected with the virus can spread it to mink and other animals. People suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 are encouraged to avoid contact with pets and other animals while they are completing their home isolation to protect the animals from infection.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 9, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Dovish Fed Struggles Bloomberg says this week that Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has done almost everything in his power to demonstrate his desire for higher inflation. Asked whether the Fed wants to get unemployment back down to 3.5% or below — a degree of labor market tightness that previous Fed chairs feared would set off spiraling inflation — he said, “Yes, absolutely.” Still, Bloomberg thinks Powell's pro-inflation efforts are “not yet” working. If the financial markets were taking the chairman at his word, long-term interest rates would be “leaping” to compensate investors, Bloomberg argues. Inflation that's chronically too low remains a perplexing challenge for central banks, which have an easier time fighting inflation that's too high. If Powell can't convince consumers, companies, and investors that the Fed can raise inflation, bad things could happen, the report says. A Japan-like deflationary psychology could set in as households and businesses put off buying big-ticket items — whether cars or machine tools — in the expectation that prices will fall. What's more, low inflation and soft demand for loans have combined to push interest rates to the floor, which robs the Fed of its No.â??1 tool for fighting recessions. To avoid outright deflation the European Central Bank cut its key short-term interest rate below zero in 2014. The Bank of Japan followed in 2016. Powell's Fed has resisted going subzero, but it has been the first to embrace overshooting its inflation target to compensate for periods of undershooting. Bloomberg thinks several factors are keeping inflation undesirably low just now, especially the demand suppressing impacts of the pandemic. The year over year price change index for personal consumption expenditures was just 1.4% in August. Meanwhile, the economic recovery is faltering as coronavirus relief programs have become less certain. In a speech on Oct. 6, Powell warned of “tragic consequences” for racial and wealth disparities if relief isn't extended. The Fed's new inflation policy is in part an admission that the old rules no longer apply. Policymakers used to assert with confidence that an unemployment rate below 6% would lead to high inflation. Yet even when unemployment hit a low of 3.5% in February, inflation remained below the 2% target. The August Fed policy changes are unusually dovish policies for the world's most powerful central bank and are making U.S. monetary policy “as easy as it's ever been in modern times, or even in nonmodern times,” says Padhraic Garvey, head of research for the Americas at ING Bank NV. But will it work? David Wilcox, a former Fed official who's a senior nonresident fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, calls it “a very substantial step forward.” Allison Boxer and Joachim Fels, both of Pimco, a big bond investor, are skeptical. For the Fed, promises are easy to make but could be hard to keep, Bloomberg thinks. When it comes time to let inflation run above 2%, there are likely to be hard-to-ignore shrieks of pain from the bond market and people living on fixed incomes. The new approach policymakers settled on recently involves more discretion than the Fed has exercised since the Greenspan era. Vagueness about the strategy likely helped Powell and Vice Chair Richard Clarida, who was in charge of the policy rethink, achieve consensus between the hawks and the doves on the FOMC. It also gives the Fed some flexibility in case of the unexpected—such as a sharp drop in oil prices that lowers inflation or a widespread crop failure that raises it. For many, the use of “less-specific” objectives is unsatisfying. “I wish it was a little more specific,” says John Taylor, the economist at Stanford and the Hoover Institution whose own rule for setting monetary policy has informed the Fed and other central banks. One observer says, “I do hope they know what they're doing.” He says he's inclined to give Powell the benefit of the doubt: “He seems to have his head on right.” The dream scenario for the Fed is that its messaging works, the economy strengthens, workers earn much-needed raises, consumers open their wallets, and companies are able to raise prices and get back to profitability. There's also a darker scenario that could produce rising prices. In that one, easy fiscal and monetary policies are politically difficult to scale back despite rising inflation caused by worker shortages, trade barriers that cut off vital imports, and other factors. In March, Charles Goodhart of the London School of Economics and Manoj Pradhan of Talking Heads Economics wrote “The coronavirus pandemic, and the supply shock that it has induced, will mark the dividing line between the deflationary forces of the last 30 to 40 years, and the resurgent inflation of the next two decades.” Resurgent? Perhaps. “It will take some time,” Powell said at the Sept. 16 press conference. “It's a slow process, but there is a process there.” Spoken like a thoroughly modern, prudently irresponsible central banker, Bloomberg said. So, we will see. Efforts to manage the money supply are likely to be more difficult and controversial than at any time in recent years, and should be watched closely by producers as the season advances, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 9, 2020 |


USDA's Perdue Floats Possible WTO Action On EU Farm-To-Fork Plan USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has continued to hammer away at the European Union (EU) farm-to-fork (F2F) plan which is aimed at promoting sustainability in agriculture production. Perdue has been consistent in warning the F2F effort could affect global trade flows and negatively impact the ability of agriculture to feed a growing global population. Perdue's focus has been that the F2F effort is based on “subjective matters rather than definitive health and safety matters, and reiterated those views in a press call Wednesday hosted by the U.S. State Department. Perdue said the EU has countered the plan is driven by popular sentiments and demands. But he also issued a warning that while the U.S. did not want to take such an action, he would not rule out heading to the WTO on the effort. “I don't think we like to threaten about those kinds of things. If protectionism does come into play… then WTO courts are one avenue,” Perdue said, adding he wanted to resolve the issues through “diplomacy and the persuasion of both agricultural producers as well as European consumers.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 9, 2020 |


USDA Reports $1.96 Billion Paid Out Under CFAP 2 USDA's Farm Service Agency has released information on payouts made under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2), reporting that $1.96 billion had been paid out as of October 6. The total includes $1.1 billion in acreage-based payments, $543.7 million for livestock, $203.9 million for dairy, $103.8 million in payments for sales commodities and $2.8 million for eggs and broilers. By commodity, the payouts in this initial data included $687.3 million for corn, $414 million for cattle, $254.9 million for soybeans, $203.9 million for milk and $120.4 million for hogs/pigs.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 9, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets After traders look over the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8:00 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement, all attention will be on USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports, due out at 11 a.m. CDT. Corn and soybean crop estimates will be updated and lower ending stocks estimates are likely for new-crop corn and soybeans as a result of last week's Grain Stocks report. Weather Friday is the end of a dry week across the central U.S. with favorable conditions for harvest and wheat planting. Warm temperatures will enhance crop and soil drying. The Delta has a different story, with heavy rain and damaging winds on the way from Hurricane Delta.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 8, 2020 |


Coronavirus Relief on Hold President Donald Trump dashed hopes lawmakers could reach an agreement on another catch-all Coronavirus relief package. Trump said the talks were suspended until after the November election. Trump claimed House Democrats “were just playing games” with Republicans and his administration. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed walking away from the talks is another example of Trump, "putting himself first at the expense of the country.” Yet, late Tuesday evening, the President suggested Congress pass stand-alone packages for airline relief, the Paycheck Protection Program and $1,200 stimulus checks. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew responded, “Americans need help, and they need it now,” adding Trump, “must reverse course and work with Congress to preserve our economy and the wellbeing of every American.” The $2 trillion House-passed HEROES Act included several agriculture provisions, such as payments to poultry and dairy farms, and funding for ethanol plants and textile mills. However, a month before the election, it seems any aid is nothing more than a talking point. ************************************************************************************ Group of Ag Leaders Endorse Biden-Harris A group of agriculture and farm leaders offered their support for Joe Biden's presidential campaign in an open letter. The leaders say agriculture is threatened by both environmental and economic challenges. The letter states, "America needs strong leaders who will tackle these challenges and shape policies that encourage agriculture to flourish." The letter adds, "These reasons are why we, a diverse community of scientists, farmers, and agricultural professionals…support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris for President and Vice President of the United States.” The letter includes former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, former chief ag negotiation Darcy Vetter, and former National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. Additionally, various farmers, former state officials from Department of Agriculture offices and others, signed the letter. The Hagstrom Report points out that Sarah Garland organized the letter, a scientist in the post-doctoral research program at the Earth Institute of Columbia University. Garland was an intern at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy during the Obama administration. ************************************************************************************ R-CALF Only National Cattle Organization Opposed to RFID Tags R-CALF USA is the only national cattle organization opposed to a proposal to mandate radio frequency identification eartags starting January 2023. The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposal would require RFID tags as Official Identification in cattle and bison. R-CALF USA requested APHIS withdraw its proposal because it “unlawfully amends substantive federal law that expressly grants America’s cattle farmers and ranchers the option of using various forms of animal identification.” The group’s comments also point out that the RFID mandate disadvantages cattle producers who reside in states with insufficient packing capacity because those producers will have to incur the costs of higher-priced RFID tags. In its concluding remarks, the group states that APHIS misinterprets the Executive Order by President Trump that the agency claims gives it authority to mandate RFID without a formal rulemaking process. Instead, “the agency is attempting to issue its mandate with a simple notice.” ************************************************************************************ AgCareers Releases Compensation During COVID-19 Report A special report from AgCareers highlights agriculture's workforce and compensation during the Coronavirus pandemic. The special report provides a hyper-focus on the most critical components facing agribusinesses during COVID-19. The topics include workforce planning, wellness/benefit programs and compensation practices related to salary administration for 2020 and 2021. The report finds 81 percent of agribusinesses did not have to make staff changes during the pandemic, and nearly 20 percent increased hiring of permanent and temporary employees. Most agriculture organizations were able to provide consistency regarding salary increases for 2020. Roughly a third of organizations had already implemented 2020 increases before the pandemic. A combined 30 percent of organizations did report being undecided, delaying or canceling previously planned increases. Looking ahead to 2021, companies continue to plan for increases, only 17 percent indicating it was not likely for salaries to increase. The prevalent estimated salary increase budgeted was 2.6 to 3.0 percent. ************************************************************************************ Nobel Prize to CRISPR Scientist Shows U.S. Falling Behind in Gene Editing The National Pork Producers Council says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has stalled the development of emerging technology with tremendous promise for livestock agriculture. The FDA has claimed regulatory jurisdiction over gene-edited livestock and has stalled the technology in the U.S. for more than two years, according to NPPC. However, the scientists who invented one of the most promising forms of this technology, the “CRISPR/Cas9 genetic scissors,” were just awarded the Nobel Prize. NPPC President Howard A.V. Roth states the Nobel Prize award serves notice that "If we don't move oversight of gene-edited livestock to the USDA, we will have ceded this promising technology to global competitors at the expense of American jobs and our nation's global agricultural leadership position." The National Pork Producers Council has repeatedly called for the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be granted gene-edited livestock regulatory oversight. NPPC says gene editing accelerates genetic improvement that would occur naturally over time by making changes to an animal's own genome. ************************************************************************************ National Dairy Traceability Program Launches in Canada Lactanet Canada this week announced the launch of DairyTrace, the national dairy cattle traceability program for dairy farmers in Canada. Designed and built to be a centralized national system for the management of all dairy cattle traceability data, DairyTrace will provide protection, prosperity and peace of mind to the Canadian dairy industry in the event of an animal health emergency. Alongside the traceability module of Dairy Farmers of Canada's proAction initiative, DairyTrace will support the dairy industry by protecting the economic livelihood of dairy producers and bringing peace of mind to consumers in the event of an emergency. DairyTrace includes a mobile app and on-line database portal, that will streamline and simplify the recording and reporting of animal identification and movement. Under federal regulations and/or proAction requirements, everyone who owns or has the possession, care or control of dairy cattle must record and report animal identity, movement, location, and custodianship information.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 8, 2020 |


Washington Insider: The Losing Battle Against the Trade Deficit Politico is reporting this week that as President Trump enters the final month of his reelection campaign, it's increasingly clear that he has failed at one of the signature goals of his presidency: reducing the U.S. trade deficit. New figures out Tuesday show the U.S. trade gap is on track to exceed $600 billion this year, the highest since 2008, just before the global financial crisis. The monthly deficit in U.S. goods trade with all other countries set a record high in August at more than $83 billion. The administration has blamed the trade deficit on bad trade deals negotiated in the past and unfair trade practices by other countries – but most economists disagree with that explanation. In November 2017, after returning from his first trip to Asia as president, the president promised that “we are going to start whittling that down and as fast as possible." Those 2017 comments seemed to be referring to just the goods trade deficit while ignoring the surplus the U.S. enjoys in services trade. The trade deficit measures the difference between what the U.S. imports and exports as the powerful U.S. economy sucks up goods from around the world. The deficit has grown dramatically from a mere $6 billion in 1975. A variety of factors contributed to the failure to eliminate the gap, which White House trade adviser Peter Navarro predicted in 2016 could be erased in one or two years. But the massive U.S. government stimulus payments to businesses and consumers helped U.S. imports recover faster than exports, pulling down the monthly goods deficit. However, even without the pandemic, the administration's tariff policies for China were never going to turn around the deficit, most economists agree. “Short-term fixes like tariffs don't work,” said Mary Lovely, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics and professor of economics at Syracuse University. “It's magical thinking.” The U.S. trade deficit is fundamentally driven by larger economic factors—like the fact Americans spend more than they save and have to borrow from abroad to finance the difference, Lovely said. Politico also says the administration's $1.5 trillion tax cut in 2017 contributed to that problem by running up the U.S. budget deficit. This year, Congress has approved more than $3 trillion in additional spending to help the U.S. economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic, tripling the budget deficit to $3.3 trillion and pulling the trade deficit along, she said. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Tuesday defended the administration's trade actions and attributed this year's rise in the deficit to the strength of the U.S. recovery from the pandemic and investors buying gold as a hedge against the crisis. "In spite of the pandemic, our goods deficit is down 2.4% year-to-date, Lighthizer said. He also noted that the bilateral trade deficit with China fell by 17% to $345 billion as importers turned to other countries such as Mexico, Vietnam, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and members of the EU. For the administration to fundamentally reduce the trade deficit, it needed to address misaligned currency rates, experts say. The Phase One trade deal with China contains enforceable rules against currency manipulation, but it is not clear how these provisions will be enforced. Also, the revised NAFTA agreement with Mexico and Canada includes strong protections for workers' rights. But the fact that labor concerns were not addressed in the China agreement “just shows that the administration is not driven by any principles in this area, but simply by political expediency,” one observer told Politico. The administration hails China's agreement as part of the phase one trade deal to purchase $200 billion more of U.S. goods and services in 2020 and 2021. But the data released on Tuesday show that China is well behind on that goal. U.S. farm exports to China had reached as high as $25 billion annually a few years ago—but they fell sharply after Beijing retaliated against administration tariffs. Now, even with the purchase commitments in the Phase One trade deal, USDA forecasts farm exports to China in the current fiscal year that began on Oct. 1 at $18.5 billion. That's below the $21.8 billion during the president's first year in office. The U.S. agricultural trade surplus has also dwindled under this administration and is projected this fiscal year at just $4.5 billion, down from $21.1 billion in fiscal 2017. Even some longtime China hawks fault the administration's handling of trade. The president's decision to confront Beijing alone, instead of working with allies such as the European Union and Japan, meant that the phase one trade deal failed to address many of the most serious concerns about China's trade practices, said Mike Wessel, who has served on the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review, a watchdog panel created by Congress, since it began in the early 2000s. “We certainly have to advance U.S. interests, but it'd be a lot better and more productive if we did it together,” Wessel said. The administration also failed to implement domestic policies that would encourage production of manufactured goods in the United States, Wessel argued. “China has an integrated structure to achieve the goals laid out in its 'Made in China 2025' plan. It's a holistic government approach. We don't have anything comparable,” he said.? So, we will see. The elements and tone of U.S. trade policies are very important to producers and should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 8, 2020 |


Food Industry Officials Downplay Potential o Fresh Disruptions Relative To COVID-19 Another wave of coronavirus-driven closures of meatpacking plants is unlikely because worker testing and safety practices have improved since the spring, the chief executive of JBS USA Holdings Inc. Andre Nogueira said. Meat companies have installed automated temperature checkpoints, distributed safety gear to plant workers and installed partitions between some workstations to catch COVID-19 symptoms and prevent its spread in plants. “I'm pretty confident we are not going to have the size of the disruption we saw in April and May,” Nogueira remarked during a Wall Street Journal Global Food Forum this week. “The number of positives over the last two or three months in the plants has been pretty low.” Others at the forum indicated that changes in supply chains have also factored into expectations that disruptions are not likely to match those seen earlier this year.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 8, 2020 |


Agriculture Regains Trade Surplus As Exports Rise U.S. agricultural exports reached $11.1 billion in August, up nearly 8% from July and the highest level since March when $11.9 billion in U.S. ag goods were shipped. Imports, however, eased to $10.9 billion, down 0.6% from the July mark and counter to the trend seen in overall U.S. trade which saw imports rise by a greater percentage level than exports. But this helped U.S. agriculture regain a trade surplus of $245.6 million, reversing five straight months of trade deficits and in six of the last seven months. This brings cumulative U.S. ag exports for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 to $123.7 billion against imports of $122.3 billion for a trade surplus of $1.4 billion. To meet USDA's forecast for FY 2020 of $135 billion in exports and $131.7 billion in imports, September exports would need to be $11.35 billion and imports $9.43 billion. With large shipments to China expected to be registered for some key commodities for September, the export target could well be hit. Imports have not fallen under $10 billion since February 2019, which would suggest the import total will surpass USDA's current forecast and further trim the trade balance, but still should result in an annual trade surplus.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 8, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT, USDA's weekly export sales report, weekly U.S. jobless claims and the latest U.S. Drought Monitor will be released, followed by an update of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Weather forecasts for North and South America and the Black Sea region are also being followed, as well as any trade news that might surface. Weather Thursday will bring yet another day of dry conditions across all primary crop areas. Harvest and wheat planting have favorable conditions. Dry soils, warm temperatures and strong winds will bring extreme fire risk to the Plains and northern Rockies. Meanwhile, Hurricane Delta in the Gulf of Mexico is consuming all available moisture as it works northward toward landfall on the Louisiana coast Friday evening. Hurricane and flood warnings are now in effect for the U.S. Delta during the coming weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 7, 2020 |


Farmers Showing More Optimism in Monthly Ag Economy Barometer U.S. agricultural producers became more optimistic again in September. The Purdue University-CME Group Ag Economy Barometer climbed to 156, the highest reading for the index since the pandemic began last winter and 12 points higher than one-month earlier. Since July, the index is up 38 points and is 60 points higher than its 2020 low established back in April. In September, producers were more optimistic about current conditions and the future for agriculture than in August. The Current Conditions Index, with a reading of 142, was 18 points higher compared to a month earlier and the Future Expectations Index rose nine points to a reading of 163. Organizers say The Department of Agriculture’s announcement of the second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments to producers and the ongoing rally in fall crop prices were likely the two primary drivers behind the improvement. Farmers were also more optimistic about making investments in their farming operation and about the short-run outlook for farmland values than they were in August. ************************************************************************************ Barchart Releases Updated Production and Yield Forecast Barchart released its October production forecast Tuesday, estimating a corn yield decrease compared to the September forecast. The company estimates corn production at 15.1 billion bushels, with a season yield of 178.2 bushels per acre. For soybeans, Barchart estimates production at 4.1 billion bushels, with a season yield of 50.5 bushels per acre. The data represents a decrease in expected yield for corn, relative to the September report, which predicted end of season yield at 178.4 bushels per acre. End of season yield for soybeans remains the same at 50.5 bushels per acre. Available to the public on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season, the Crop Production and Yield Forecasts provide quick projections before the Department of Agriculture’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand report. In September, USDA projected a corn crop of 14.9 billion bushels, and a soybean crop of 4.3 billion bushels. USDA will release the next monthly WASDE report Friday. ************************************************************************************ Corteva: Dry Conditions May Result in 2021 Herbicide Carryover Injuries Corteva warns farmers current drought conditions in the Corn Belt could cause herbicide carryover in 2021. The concentration of herbicide remaining in the soil at next season's planting may be too high if dry conditions persist. This will depend on herbicide chemical properties, soil characteristics and the weather, according to Pioneer Field Agronomist Bob Berkevich. Additionally, while this season's crop may be well-suited to tolerating the herbicide used, a rotational crop may be susceptible to injury. Emerging plants are more likely to show injury to residual herbicide levels if other stressors, such as compaction or cold, wet soils are also present. Berkevich says farmers cannot do much to change the concentration of herbicides present in the soil. But there are several steps they can take to help reduce the risk of carryover injury, such as reviewing spray records for each field to see what restrictions are indicated or even going so far as delaying planting. ************************************************************************************ NMPF Supports Efforts to Modernize Animal ID and Disease Traceability Requirement The National Milk Producers Federation submitted comments supporting a Department of Agriculture proposal on the use of Radio Frequency Identification Tags. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service proposes RFID tags as Official Identification in cattle and bison. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says, "A national animal identification system can provide immediate access to relevant information in an animal disease or food safety crisis that could endanger the entire dairy chain, while protecting farmers' privacy." The U.S. dairy industry has long advocated modernizing animal ID and disease traceability systems. Farmer organizations, including NMPF, formed a group called IDairy to collectively advance official mandatory animal identification to aid disease traceability. IDairy in received a USDA-APHIS cooperative agreement on premise registration and animal ID education that propelled the use of RFID tags in the U.S. dairy industry. Since 2009, the National Dairy FARM Program, Farmers Assuring Responsible Management, has also recommended use of official RFID tags for all dairy cattle. ************************************************************************************ Below Average Runoff Continues along Missouri River Basin September precipitation was well-below normal in the Missouri River Basin. As a result, September runoff in the upper Missouri River Basin above Sioux City, Iowa, was 69 percent of average. Since January, precipitation in the upper Basin is well-below normal, a stark contrast to the last three years of high water along the river and flooding. 2019 saw historic flooding along the Missouri River, with the Army Corps of Engineers releasing large amounts of water from Gavins Point Dam, destroying levees and flooding farmland. This fall, Missouri River Basin Water Management Division chief John Reemus says, “Releases from Gavins Point Dam are being made to meet full-service Missouri River navigation flow targets.” According to the National Drought Mitigation Center, drought conditions continue to worsen across much of the upper Basin. Wide-spread areas of drought classified as Extreme are evident in Colorado and Wyoming. Moderate to Severe drought conditions are present in large areas of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa. ************************************************************************************ California Wildfires Burn Record 4 Million Acres Wildfires in California have burned a record four-plus million acres this year, an area larger than Connecticut. The figure is more than twice the acreage burned in the previous record year, 2018. Five of the top six fires in California’s modern history have occurred this year, including the largest single fire on record, being the Creek Fire that has burned more than 320,000 acres alone. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection reports that there have been over 8,300 fires in the state since the beginning of the year. The Washington Post reports scientists have linked the severity of 2020′s California wildfire season to a combination of human-caused climate change and land-use practices. California Governor Gavin Newsom recently stated, “If that’s not proof point, testament, to climate change, then I don’t know what is.” However, climate change isn’t the only factor. Scientists years of fire suppression policies have allowed vegetation, fuel for the fires, to build up in forests.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 7, 2020 |


Washington Insider: A Surprising China Defender Across the Trump administration U.S. officials have ramped up their criticisms of China for its international investments and social policies. However, the New York Times is reporting this week that while U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer has for decades been one of China's toughest critics, that has changed. Since brokering a trade deal with Beijing in January, he has “now become one of China's biggest defenders within the administration.” More recently, Lighthizer has criticized several proposed policy measures that likely rankled Beijing, arguing they could disrupt the U.S.-China trade pact that he and President Trump spent more than two years trying to forge. And, he has touted Beijing's efforts to uphold the pact and live up to its end of the deal. These views have brought Lighthizer into conflict with more hawkish members of the administration, including State Department officials who have advocated closer ties with Taiwan, along with members of Congress. Last week, 50 U.S. senators of both parties wrote Lighthizer urging him to begin the formal process of negotiating a deal with Taiwan. “We are confident that a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement would promote security and economic growth for the United States, Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific as a whole,” they wrote. “We urge the administration to prioritize a comprehensive trade agreement with Taiwan, and we look forward to working with you to secure this framework.” Proponents say dealing directly with Taiwan could help counter some of China's growing influence in technology and commerce. However, Bonnie Glaser, a senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said concerns over preserving the current trade deal with China were likely to sink the prospects of Taiwan negotiations, at least for the remainder of this administration. “The administration, particularly of course USTR, they're focused like a laser on this trade deal with China,” she said. “The president doesn't want it to fall apart.” The president has said he is “not happy” with China for allowing coronavirus to spread beyond its borders and has ratcheted up punishment on Chinese tech companies, like TikTok and WeChat. Still, he has not “ripped up the trade deal or threatened to take additional trade action against Beijing. In part, that's because he faces pressure—from American banks, businesses and farmers—not to let commercial ties with China deteriorate further, especially right before the election, NYT says. The Times says important U.S. sectors eagerly greeted the signing of the trade deal in January as an end to months of uncertainty as it locked in new access to the Chinese markets for American banks and ag producers, as well as the promise of record purchases of soybeans, hogs and natural gas. However, the Times says those commitments are “widely seen as unrealistic,” and so far, China is on track to purchase just some of the goods it has promised. Still, Lighthizer defends the deal and told a House committee in June that China was giving “every indication” it would uphold the agreement, in spite of coronavirus. Instead, he reserved his harshest criticism for the WTO which he calls “a mess” in need of “radical reform,” and the European Union, which he threatened with more tariffs. Lighthizer's shift in tone is notable, the Times says, given that his reputation as a China critic during a long career in Congress, the executive branch and as a Washington trade lawyer. His history of battling China, including pursuing trade cases against the country and opposing its entry into the WTO was what first ingratiated him to President Trump, who held a similarly dim view of China's trade practices. But more recently, he has intervened to shoot down several policy measures that could have threatened China economically, including efforts by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to impose a sweeping ban on cotton and tomatoes from Xinjiang over concerns that they were made with forced labor by Uighurs and other Muslim minorities detained in camps. Earlier this summer, as the administration sought ways to retaliate against China for its crackdown on Hong Kong, Lighthizer opposed the idea of placing tariffs — similar to those imposed on China — on Hong Kong. He was joined by other analysts who argued that the administration “should take strong action on Hong Kong and Xinjiang but only if those actions have a chance of changing behavior and don't have unintended consequences.” Now, Lighthizer's reluctance to begin trade talks with Taiwan has been increasingly opposed by officials from the departments of State, Defense and Commerce and the National Security Council, NYT said. Not everyone thinks trade talks with Taiwan would be a certain success, but the Times thinks that support in Washington for closer ties with Taiwan is growing. For example, when U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar traveled to Taiwan in August, he was the highest ranking U.S. official to visit in decades. The hope was that U.S. initiatives would build momentum and pressure on USTR to advance trade ties, said Glaser of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The State Department “did what they could in their realm of responsibility,” she said. “But at the end of the day, State cannot negotiate trade agreements and that's what Taiwan wants.” So, we will see. Clearly, U.S. relations with China are fragile, in spite of their importance. However, the Chinese markets for U.S. products are very important and efforts to impose changes in that region should be watched closely as the season advances, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 7, 2020 |


FSA Clarifies Who Is A 'Contract Grower' For CFAP 2 For the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2), the Farm Service Agency (FSA) has issued guidance to further clarify who is considered a “contract grower” relative to eligibility for the program. “For CFAP 2, 'contract grower' is a person or legal entity who grows or produces an eligible commodity or livestock under contract for someone else,” FSA said. “The contract grower's income is dependent upon the successful production of a crop or livestock or offspring from livestock.” FSA further noted that a contract grower “does not have ownership in the commodity or livestock and is not entitled to a share from sales proceeds of the commodity or livestock.” Using that definition FSA said, “A person or legal entity that raises or grows an eligible commodity under contract and has both ownership and risk of production loss in the commodity or livestock is eligible for CFAP 2.” That definition is key, FSA noted as those signing a CFAP 2 application are “certifying that they have both an ownership share and risk in the commodity or livestock included on the application.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 7, 2020 |


CFAP 1 Payouts Pass $10.2 Billion But No CFAP 2 Data Yet Payouts under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP 1) moved up to $10.2 billion as of October 4, according to the Farm Service Agency (FSA). That includes $4.97 billion for livestock, $2.63 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.76 billion for dairy, $743.7 million for specialty crops and $103.8 million for aqua, nursery and flora crops. Iowa continues to lead all states with $968.7 million followed by Nebraska at $715.1 million. California has moved up to the third post at $662.4 million followed by Texas at $629.7 million, Minnesota at $608.6 million and Wisconsin at $522.9 million. Even as farmers are reporting already receiving payments under CFAP 2 where enrollment started September 21, USDA has not made any payment data available. “CFAP 2 data will be available in the coming weeks,” FSA said.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday October 7, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Energy Department will have its weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. CDT, including data on ethanol production. The minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting will be released at 1 p.m., offering hints of monetary policy. As usual, the latest weather forecasts will get attention along with any trade news that emerges. Weather Wednesday will again be dry across all primary crop areas, favoring row crop harvest and winter wheat planting. The increasing dryness is hindering winter wheat emergence and early development. Temperatures will be above to much above normal.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 6, 2020 |


Stimulus Talks Remain Hopeful Hopes a COVID-19 stimulus package can be completed before the November election are increasing. With President Donald Trump and many staffers in the White House testing positive for the virus over the last week, Trump has indicated support for a new stimulus package. Trump stated via Twitter over the weekend, the nation "wants and needs" stimulus, directing lawmakers to "work together and get it done." Meanwhile, speaking to CBS's Face The Nation over the weekend, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated, “we are making progress.” Asked if an agreement could come this week, Pelosi says, “that just depends on if they understand what we have to do to crush the virus,” referring to Republicans. The House passed another version of its HEROES Act last week, a $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package. The legislation includes aid to ethanol plants, livestock producers who had to euthanize animals because of no slaughterhouse capacity, as well as a 15 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. ************************************************************************************ USTR Initiates Vietnam Section 301 Investigation The Trump administration Friday announced a trade investigation over two issues related to Vietnam. At the direction of President Donald Trump, the U.S. Trade Representative’s will investigate Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices related to the import and use of timber that is illegally harvested or traded USTR will also investigate Vietnam’s acts, policies, and practices that may contribute to the undervaluation of its currency and the resultant harm caused to U.S. commerce. As part of its investigation on currency undervaluation, USTR will consult with the Department of the Treasury as to issues of currency valuation and exchange rate policy. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer stated, “Using illegal timber in wood products exported to the U.S. market harms the environment and is unfair to U.S. workers and businesses who follow the rules by using legally harvested timber.” USTR will issue two separate Federal Register notices this week that will provide details of the investigation. ************************************************************************************ Oil Prices Fall amid COVID-19 Concerns Oil prices lost significant ground last week over concerns about rising COVID-19 cases, including President Donald Trump testing positive for the virus. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil closed last week at nearly $37 per barrel, a drop from $40.36 last Monday. GasBuddy reports the national average price of gasoline has fallen in the last week, posting a decline of 0.7 cents per gallon over the last week to $2.17. Meanwhile, the national average price of diesel is unchanged from a week ago and stands at $2.38 per gallon. However, Patrick De Hann of GasBuddy says, “Friday saw the highest gasoline demand since Labor Day,” suggesting, “we may see an end to the possibility of future declines.” Government data released last week showed a small decline in oil inventories of two million barrels for the prior week, while remaining about 13 percent above the five-year average for this time of year. Inventories now stand some 70 million barrels, or 16.5 percent, above their year-ago level. ************************************************************************************ AFBF Announces Ag Innovation Challenge Semi-Finalist The American Farm Bureau Federation and Farm Credit recently announced the ten semi-finalist teams in the 2021 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. The ten semi-finalist teams were awarded $7,500 each and will compete at the AFBF Convention in January, to advance to the final round. The four finalist teams will receive an additional $7,500 for a total of $15,000. The final four teams will compete live to win the Farm Bureau Entrepreneur of the Year award, for a total of $50,000, and the People's Choice Award for $20,000. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says the semi-finalists are "providing solutions for some of the biggest challenges facing agriculture," adding, "This includes supporting farms, ranches and rural economies affected by the COVID-19 pandemic." The top ten semi-finalist teams will participate in pitch training and mentorship from Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business faculty, and network with representatives from the Agriculture Department’s Rural Business Investment Companies. To learn more about the Challenge and the ten semi-finalists, visit fb.org/challenge. ************************************************************************************ Farmers National Company: Land for Sale Near a Record Despite what has been a slower agricultural land market the past few years, the dollar amount of land that Farmers National Company is selling for its clients is near record levels. As of October 1, the company and its agents report actively marketing and selling land worth $300 million. Land being marketed includes good quality tillable cropland of all sizes, recreational land, ranches, pastureland, timberland, rural homes and acreages, and transitional land near urban areas. The amount of land for sale varies by region and by brokerage. Some areas continue to have less for sale than normal, and others are seeing a slight uptick in the amount of land listed for sale. Landowners have been and continue to be making decisions whether to sell now, in early 2021, or to hold onto their land. There has also been a reported increase in farmland interest by investment firms, seeking long-term and stable investment options. ************************************************************************************ NCGA Launches New Women and Mentors Program The National Corn Growers Association Monday announced a new women and mentors program. The first inaugural Women and Mentors Retreat will kick off virtually on October 15. Tara Smith, executive vice president at Michael Torrey and Associates and Kellie Bray, chief of staff at CropLife America, will open the event with a panel delving into mentorship relationships, including how these vital connections lead to career and personal growth. In January, NCGA will host a second virtual session and an in-person meeting in June 2021. The Women and Mentors program provides an opportunity for women looking to find the next steps in their leadership journey to partner with a mentor who has traveled that path, according to the organization. Mentors, who can be of any gender, both foster tomorrow's leaders and learn how to share the wealth of knowledge and understanding accumulated through years of service. NCGA is still accepting applications at NCGA.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 6, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Reports Emphasize Economic Outlook Uncertainty Bloomberg was mainly downbeat in its evaluation of the global economic outlook this week. It asserted overall that the global economy is entering the “final quarter of its worst year in living memory.” The report emphasized the “darkening outlook for U.S. employment, the impending halt to a United Kingdom furlough and the expiry of a moratorium on German insolvencies” that provided a glimpse of the trouble in store. And, it reported that the International Labour Organisation estimated recently that “the world would lose working hours equivalent to 245 million full-time jobs in the last three months of 2020.” Some of the world's biggest companies across a range of industries announced large layoffs within a 24-hour period last week, Bloomberg reported. Adding to those omens, the UK's main furlough program will end later this month — and a group representing the country's events industry predicts more than 90,000 people will be made redundant in coming weeks. In the UK, renewed clusters of infections underscore the vulnerability of already battered economies to further damage that could ultimately hit livelihoods, Bloomberg said. And, it said that the latest outbreak in Paris may force bars and restaurants to close, while London is at a “tipping point,” according to a local health official. The report said that Bloomberg's own economists see “a second wave of infections in the pandemic, as well as major corporate layoffs in the U.S. and the end of the furlough scheme in the UK that flag the risk that unemployment will rise into year-end. “Bad news for the immediate outlook is also bad news for the medium term, with deeper labor market scars threatening to drag on the recovery — even after a COVID-19 vaccine is eventually found,” Tom Orlik, Bloomberg chief economist said. The report called attention to the upcoming release on Wednesday of the U.S. Federal Reserve of minutes of its Sept. 15-16 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee that is expected to be “especially important” for Fed watchers, “beginning with details of the debate over the committee's new guidance on the conditions that will be necessary to trigger a rate increase.” The minutes also may reveal whether policy makers discussed increasing asset purchases and continuing to restrict bank dividends. And, there may also be a separate section summarizing discussions that preceded a special August 27 vote on the new framework, under which the Fed will allow inflation to run higher and unemployment to go lower than officials previously had tolerated. In its global scan, the report said that that China is “shut for its Golden Week holidays,” so it focused on trends for the rest of the region. It expects a busy week in Australia with the central bank announcing its interest-rate decision on Tuesday, hours before the government unveils its budget plan. Prime Minister Scott Morrison's government will likely outline additional fiscal stimulus, including infrastructure spending and tax cuts, intended to pull the economy out of its first recession in nearly 30 years. Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will speak at events in the coming week and his remarks on the economic recovery and the outlook for prices will be closely watched for any signs of less gloom as the central bank prepares for a meeting later this month. Japanese wage and household spending data will offer the latest indication of how the economy is picking up after recent patchy signals. For European Central Bank policy makers including President Christine Lagarde and Chief Economist Philip Lane this week will be a chance to offer any clues on whether the latest disappointing inflation data are enough to move the needle in the debate for extra stimulus. Minutes of the ECB's September meeting will be published Thursday. Investors will also be listening closely to remarks by Bank of England officials for signs of any divergent views on the economic rebound and the potential use of negative rates. Monthly UK GDP numbers are due Friday. In the Nordics, Norwegian central bank chief Oystein Olsen speaks after surprising markets last month with a more dovish forward guidance than anticipated. Later in the week, Norway published its economic output data for August. Central banks in Poland, Serbia and Uganda are expected to keep interest rates unchanged, while Botswana may have room to cut. The report also added that this week's reading of Mexico's consumer confidence may show a fourth month of improvement. In central banking, Peru on Wednesday will pause at 0.25% for a sixth month as the economy begins to turn around, while the minutes from policy makers' September 24 meeting out Thursday may cement bets that Mexico's comfortable holding at 4.25%. Price data this week will show inflation coming off pandemic-lows in Mexico, Brazil and Chile, while still well under target in Colombia. Brazil's retail sales report for August will show monthly and annual gains with some loss of momentum. So, we will see. Amid all the political and economic drivers of uncertainty, the president's health issues will be of primary concern, as will any new U.S. efforts — or the lack thereof — to offset impacts of the COVID — all trends producers should watch closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 6, 2020 |


Canola Group Seeks Approval of the Oilseed As Renewable Fuel Source The U.S. Canola Association has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve the oilseed as a source of renewable fuel, which could feed an expected surge in demand for raw material from processing plants being developed. In March, the group submitted a pathway petition to EPA to add canola renewable diesel as an eligible renewable fuel standards product, said Tom Hance, Washington Representative for the U.S. Canola Association. The petition is not yet publicly available and is under EPA review, according to Hance. If approved, demand for the oilseed — and potentially its price — could rise and spur more imports from Canada. It could double the amount of Canada's crop that goes into fuel production, according to the Canola Council of Canada.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 6, 2020 |


OMB Remains Busy Reviewing Agency Plans The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed its review of the EPA plan on the application exclusion zone (AEX) requirements relative to agricultural workers. EPA is proposing changes to the AEZ under the Agricultural Worker Protection Standard. Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) last week sent an interim final rule to OMB for review relative to hours of service issues for those transporting ag commodities. The FMCSA developed the rule to address whether, and if so to what extent, they should revise or otherwise clarify the definitions of “agricultural commodity” or “livestock” relative to hours of service (HOS) requirements for drivers. The agency last week wrapped up its review of USDA's plans to alter the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to reflect provisions in the 2018 Farm Bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday October 6, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau will release its report on the U.S. trade deficit for August at 7:30 a.m. CDT. Later the same morning, USDA will release more specific data of agricultural exports for August, including ethanol, biodiesel and distillers grains. The latest weather forecasts will also be watched as will any trade news that develops. Weather Dry and open conditions are in store across all primary crop areas Tuesday. This pattern will offer continued favorable row crop harvest and winter wheat planting progress.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 5, 2020 |


House Passes Amended Heroes Act The House of Representatives passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus aid package that Democrats say is an update to the previous $3.4 billion bill that passed in May. The vote was 214 to 207, with 18 Democrats joining all the Republicans who voted against it. The legislation includes aid to ethanol plants, livestock producers who had to euthanize animals because of no slaughterhouse capacity, as well as a 15 percent increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits. The package incorporates many provisions that the National Farmers Union members requested during the recent virtual fly-in, including support for local and regional meat processing, farm-stress programs, as well as the nutrition assistance. NFU President Rob Larew is urging the Senate to quickly move forward with the final passage. “Throughout the pandemic, Congress and the USDA have worked to provide family farmers and ranchers with the help they need,” Larew says. “These efforts have gone a long way toward keeping farmers afloat during market uncertainty and supply chain disruptions.” However, the NFU points out that the strength of the ag economy depends on the strength of the overall economy and the wellbeing of Americans, so they’re pushing for another economic stimulus package. “The time is now for the Senate and White House to agree on a stimulus package,” Larew adds. ********************************************************************************************** PRICE Act Would Make Changes to Cattle Markets South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson introduced the Price Reform in Cattle Economics Act. The House Ag Committee member says the bill would increase transparency in the cattle market, as well as improve risk management for producers and support new and existing meat processors. The Hagstrom Report says he wrote the bill as a response to recent extreme cases of market volatility after the Tyson Plant fire in Holcomb, Kansas, in 2019, as well as during COVID-19. Johnson says cattle country is hurting and hasn’t fully recovered from the recent challenges. “USDA has laid out multiple areas where Congress could implement real solutions to improve the market,” he says. “The PRICE Act is the answer to many of the years-long challenges producers have battled.” He says cattle producers want a fair market and fair prices. “Congress needs to step up for cattle country,” Johnson adds, “which is what the bill will do.” The PRICE Act is supported by groups like the American Farm Bureau Federation, South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. ********************************************************************************************** Animal Group says Pork Sellers are Failing to End Sow Confinement World Animal Protection, a global animal welfare non-profit group, released its first “Quit Stalling Report.” It finds that companies from quick-serve restaurants to hotel conglomerates are mostly failing to meet their commitments to end sow confinement. From 2012 to 2015, many companies that sell pork set goals to end the use of gestation crates for pregnant pigs and provide only gestation-crate-free pork. Many companies, including Campbell’s, Kraft, and Heinz, typically set target dates to implement the change. However, the group estimates that three out of four sows continue to spend most of their lives confined to gestation crates, with little space to move and even less to turn around. World Animal Protection says the deadlines many of the companies set have long-since passed, with little attention paid to the missed dates. Of the 56 companies included in the Quit Stalling Report, World Animal Protection says it’s especially concerned that almost 30 percent of companies no longer maintain the language in their published animal welfare policies or responsibility reports affirming their commitment to crate-free pork. Just 29 percent of the companies are publicly reporting that they are making progress towards or have achieved full implementation of those animal welfare commitments. *****************************************t***************************************************** Soy Growers Ask Ag Leaders to Urge FCC to Keep GPS Working GPS was a recent topic of conversation with House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson and Ag Committee member Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania. The discussion centered around the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to allow Ligado Networks to operate a terrestrial wireless network and how it will threaten the reliability of GPS receivers vital to precision agriculture. Because producers rely so heavily on precision technology, the prospect of GPS units potentially not working is critical to every single farmer that uses precision technology. “Our organization has been advocating for soybean farmers for 100 years,” says Jim Kukowski, the American Soybean Association’s Conservation and Precision Agriculture Committee Chair. “The arrival of GPS to farms has been the biggest technical advancement the industry has ever seen. The fact that the FCC would threaten our farmers with such a misguided decision is incomprehensible.” ASA joined leading ag organizations to support the Keep GPS Working Coalition. The Ligado website says the company’s applications will “protect GPS, enable the expedited deployment of 5G networks, serve America’s critical industries, and will improve the lives of consumers in rural and urban areas around the country.” ********************************************************************************************** Livestock Producers Applaud Legislation to Protect Against Predators The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council were pleased to see the House pass legislation designed to protect livestock from protected predators. It would compensate livestock producers who experience depredation by federally protected species and fund methods to reduce conflicts between humans and predators. In the Senate, Environment and Public Works Chair John Barrasso of Wyoming introduced the American Conservation Enhancement Act. One provision would provide depredation payments for livestock producers who experience animal losses caused by federally protected species, while also allowing producers to use non-lethal deterrence activities to help protect their animals. States previously funded these activities despite the federal level of protection for animals causing the predation. PLC and the NCBA have worked with Congress and federal agencies to provide relief to states through improved regulations and compensation programs. “Livestock producers and states face significant burdens when the federal government implements protections for species without any support for the economic and natural resource impacts their decisions can have,” says PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover. “This relief comes at a time when producers are contending with serious losses due to multiple events.” ************************************************************************************ Advancing and Driving Demand for Biofuels Through Research The National Corn-to-Ethanol Research Center is expanding its capabilities and offerings with one goal in mind; to create opportunities for America’s corn farmers. The National Corn Growers Association has worked with NCERC to help underscore the advantages of renewable corn ethanol. “At NCERC, ethanol will always be a foundation of our work,” says Executive Director John Caupert. “Just like when you’re building a home, a foundation is something to build on. As policy, technology, and industry have evolved, we are evolving along with it.” Now more than ever, new uses and market opportunities are needed for America’s corn farmers. One of the more exciting bioprocess developments is in the area of biopolymers. The commercial application of biopolymers is endless. From liners in cardboard boxes to liners in baby diapers, and everything in between, someday very soon, America will be able to utilize corn-based biopolymers. NCERC partners with multiple companies on dozens of renewable compounds, including biofuels, biochemicals, biomaterials, and bioproducts. The National Corn Growers Association says as the industry looks to the future and how to continue to drive corn demand, they’ll look at partners like NCERC to help farmers chip away at their corn surplus.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 5, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Food Shortages Intensify The Washington Post is reporting this week that U.S. food supplement programs are facing large shortages of supplies over the next 12 months. As a result, food banks have seen record increases in need even as donations and volunteers dwindle, the Washington Post said. The report focused on the tens of millions of Americans who have turned to a local food bank for help after becoming newly food insecure because of the pandemic and its fallout. About 10% of American adults, 22.3 million, reported they sometimes or often didn't have enough to eat within the past week, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's most recent Household Pulse Survey fielded between Aug. 19 and 31. “That is up from 18 million before March 13,” the Post said. The report includes interviews with participants in several programs, including Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks – which projects a 6 billion to 8 billion meal shortfall in the next 12 months. That deficit could be magnified as federal food assistance programs are scheduled to expire in the coming weeks and months. The Feeding America analysis estimates the total need for charitable food over the next year will reach 17 billion pounds, more than three times last year's effort. The Post focuses on several program participants. For example, one said that, at 41, he's been through quite a bit. His wife has a disability and he has been the primary breadwinner for a number of years. He has suffered from anxiety and depression for some time, once taking unpaid leave for a hospitalization. Since losing his job, he has liquidated his 401(k), used his $1,200 stimulus check to pay down some bills and opted into a special payment plan with his mortgage lender. But even with the extra $600 per week in unemployment the Cares Act provided, things have been tight. The article points out a change in the food business that “affects all income levels.” One participant in the charitable distribution program in Boston commented that “before the pandemic customers walked through and picked out their own items. Requirements for social distancing and contactless handoffs now require volunteers to fill prefabricated boxes, a more laborious process. And volunteerism continues to be way down.” In a normal year, Greater Boston Food Bank has 24,000 volunteers available to help shoppers – about 460 each week. Now, they get 100 to 150 per week. These challenges to food assistance are not unique to the Boston area, the report says. Still, “I have never seen any circumstances as bizarre and complicated as what we're seeing right now,” said Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Hunger Task Force, a food bank and anti-hunger advocacy group in Milwaukee.” She says the pandemic has complicated food distribution, especially for those who don't have transportation or who live in remote areas. Food banks alone cannot be the answer, she says. Katie Fitzgerald, chief operating officer of Feeding America, says that a Feeding America survey launched Sept. 15 and concluded Sept. 28, member food banks reported seeing an average 56 percent increase in demand. In August, Feeding America network food banks distributed an estimated 593 million meals, an increase of 64 percent from a typical pre-pandemic month. Fitzgerald says natural disasters add additional stress to regional food assistance programs. About 5 million schoolchildren live in a household where people can't afford sufficient food, says Stacy Dean, vice president for food assistance policy at the think tank Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. There were about 6 million more participants in SNAP, the food assistance program formerly known as food stamps, in May and June compared with February, says Joseph Llobrera, director of research for food assistance policy for CBPP. Advocates say that the emergency rule on benefit maximums have alleviated hardship for many, nearly 40 percent of households already received the SNAP maximum benefit and thus received no increased benefit. Sixteen million low-income people, including 7 million children, got no additional assistance, according to economists at CBPP. Fitzgerald and other advocates have strongly urged a 15% increase in SNAP. Shortfalls in these programs put extra pressure on food banks during the pandemic. And the effects of these deficits are not just short-term, says Megan Sandel, co-director of the Grow Clinic for Children at Boston Medical Center. She says she has seen a 40 percent increase in her caseload, with over two-thirds reporting food insecurity. In the past, Sandel says, it wasn't unusual for low-income Americans to have to stretch a dollar at the end of the month. “Now they are running out of their food budget the second or third week of the month. Parents are going back into the kitchen at mealtime so kids won't notice that parents aren't eating themselves,” she says. “The larger food banks, like Boston and Houston, are experiencing greater philanthropy, but smaller ones haven't had as much success,” she says. So, we will see. There is widespread support for food assistance programs of many kinds, but the system is vast and complicated. These programs benefit both rural and urban families and should be watched closely as they are adjusted to match growing needs, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 5, 2020 |


OMB Finalizes Review of USDA Rule To Make Changes To CSP To Reflect 2018 Farm Bill Changes The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has completed its review of USDA's final rule to rule to make changes to the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) to put changes in place from the 2018 Farm Bill. The changes include confirming validity of CSP contracts entered into prior to 2018 Farm Bill enactment, it authorizes the ability to extend contracts that were due to expire on or before December 31, 2019, and authorizes renewal of such contracts through the new CSP authority and simplifies CSP ranking criteria and addresses other issues raised in 110 comments that were submitted on the interim rule on CSP.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 5, 2020 |


Senate Sends Caribbean Trade Measure To Trump The Senate approved legislation to extend the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act until September 30, 2030, under the Caribbean Trade Basin Economic Recovery Act. Eight countries currently qualify under the program, but Haiti has emerged as the biggest beneficiary because of the trade preferences as well as other U.S. programs designed to build the country's economy. Congress has yet to act on another expiring trade preference program, the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) that expires December 31. The program offers tariff breaks on 3,500 products imported from nearly 120 countries.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday October 5, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Monday's lineup will sound familiar with weekly grain export inspections due out at 10 a.m. CDT. USDA's Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. CDT and feature corn and soybean harvest progress and winter wheat planting progress. As usual, the latest weather forecasts and any export sales will also get attention at the start of the first full week of October. Weather Dry conditions will again cover all primary crop areas Monday, favoring row crop harvest and winter wheat planting. Some frost is indicated in the eastern Midwest. The Australia Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) values are now in La Nina categories in both the 30- and 90-day calculations at plus 9.90 on the 30-day and plus 8.05 on the 90-day.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 2, 2020 |


Senate Approves Continuing Resolution: CR Bill Goes to Trump Late Wednesday, the Senate approved the continuing resolution to fund the government through December 11 just hours before the end of the fiscal year. The Hagstrom Report says the bill now goes to President Trump for his signature. Senate Ag Committee Chair Pat Roberts, other lawmakers, along with farm and nutrition groups, noted the importance of provisions that allow farm subsidies to continue to flow and hungry Americans to get food. The CR passed by a margin of 84 to 10. “In these wildly uncertain times, farmers, ranchers, and growers are counting on us to get this right,” Roberts says. “I hope farm country can rest a little easier tonight knowing that funds for the Commodity Credit Corporation will be replenished to continue farm bill programs and assist producers who are impacted by COVID-19.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says the passage is an “immense relief” to farmers, who depend on federally funded programs to access loans, technical support, as well as critical market and climate data. National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross adds that farmers have been working with Congress for years to develop and implement effective risk management tools that ensure a stable feed, fuel, and food supply, even during the tough times that many farmers face today.” ********************************************************************************************** Minnesota Court Dismisses Lawsuit Against Meatpackers The U.S. District Court in Minnesota dismissed an anti-trust lawsuit against meatpackers like Tyson Foods, JBS, the National Beef Packing Company, and Cargill. R-CALF led several plaintiffs in filing the lawsuit. Chief Judge John Tunheim did leave open the opportunity for plaintiffs to amend their complaint. Tyson Foods says, “We’re pleased with the court’s decision.” In the ruling, the judge says the complaint didn’t give much evidence of how meatpackers conspired to manipulate prices for fed cattle; instead, “it resorted to group pleading, arguing that the market did this or that.” In his written opinion, Tunheim says, “The most specific allegations related to 2015 when JBS dropped its annual slaughter volume by 17 percent, National Beef by six percent, and Tyson by four percent. Plaintiffs then say little about the defendants in the years that follow when slaughter volumes actually increased. As for other allegations like a reduction in the number of cash cattle purchased, the judge says plaintiffs rely almost exclusively on industry-wide data and ask the court to infer that the individual defendants all contributed to the decrease simply because they make up a majority of the industry. The Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, the United Stockgrowers of America, and the Farmers Educational and Cooperative Union of America filed the lawsuit in April of 2019. ********************************************************************************************** New Soy-Based Product Protects U.S. Roads A new soy-based concrete sealant is protecting roadways in the U.S. while also supporting demand for soybeans and reducing maintenance costs for infrastructure. The United Soybean Board partnered with the Indiana Soybean Alliance on research and market development efforts for soy-based solutions in infrastructure for decades. They’re proud to announce that select Indiana counties have the opportunity to use a new soy-based sealant called PoreShield on their bridges. The brand-new product is made possible by farmers’ checkoff investments. PoreShield is being used on 77 bridge decks totaling 330,000 square feet in Indiana this year, with aims to expand the use in the future. The good news for farmers is, as PoreShield continues to be adopted as a solution, demand for soybeans grows too. On average, PoreShield uses 200 bushels of soybeans per mile of two-lane bridge treatment. That’s equivalent to 7.5 acres of soybeans for each mile demanded by this market. “As a renewable alternative, using U.S.-grown soybean oil as a concrete-durability enhancer is among one of 1,000 soy-based products currently on the market,” says John Jansen, USB Vice President of Oil Strategy. “It unlocks yet another use that drives demand for our soybeans, and with PoreShield, there’s enormous potential for roads and bridges that need these critical enhancements.” *****************************************t***************************************************** NACD President Stresses Importance of Conservation Programs During Testimony Tim Palmer, President of the National Association of Conservation Districts, testified before the House Subcommittee on Conservation and Forestry about 2020 conservation programs. He detailed the successes and challenges of the programs brought on by COVID-19. Palmer, who farms in Iowa, says it’s vital that the Committee understands how important Conservation Technical Assistance is to the successful implementation of conservation planning and farm bill conservation programs. During his testimony, he highlighted the impact of state and local budget cuts caused by COVID-19 on conservation districts. He also described the success of NACD’s Technical Assistance Grants Program, funded in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, in helping to boost technical capacity in conservation districts across the country. Palmer emphasized the role conservation districts play in coordinating locally-led conservation delivery with NRCS, and that the agency needs greater federal hiring authority to address their staff shortages. “Budget shortfalls or associated budget cuts often trickle down, causing conservation districts to furlough staff members who are often responsible for customer service,” Palmer added. ********************************************************************************************** Legislation Brings Needed Reform to Conservation Compliance Legislation recently introduced in the Senate would bring much-needed reform to the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s Conservation Compliance Program. The NRCS Wetland Compliance and Appeals Reform Act was introduced by South Dakota Senator Mike Rounds. It would require the NRCS to provide more evidence in determining wetlands and give farmers more rights in the appeals process. The American Farm Bureau has documented situations in which farmers have been hurt by repeated, unjustified, and costly decisions by the NRCS. These issues must be addressed. The Farm Bureau has advocated for clear rules and safeguards to ensure the fair treatment of farmers in conservation compliance. When USDA released the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation Final Rule, it was clear the issues haven’t been remedied. “The plain truth is that farmers have been unfairly treated by NRCS when they’re trying to be good stewards of the land,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “AFBF stood up for them by pressing for changes to conservation compliance programs, and we applaud Senator Rounds for introducing the Act. It would institute needed reforms, and although it’s sweeping in nature in its current form, it takes important steps toward creating a fair and understandable process for American Farmers.” ************************************************************************************ FFA Introduces “Agricultural Education for All” The National FFA organization announced its new Agricultural Education for All roadmap. The plan outlines the strategies the organization is taking to support inclusion, diversity, and equity. The FFA wants to ensure that the organization is a bully-free zone that reflects society’s demographics in membership, leadership, and staff, and celebrates individuality. “FFA is building the next generation of leaders – and the world needs leaders with diverse backgrounds, experiences, ideas, and identities,” says FFA CEO Mark Poeschl (PESH-uhl). “Through agricultural education and FFA, students can take these experiences and apply them in their communities.” Some examples of the steps FFA will take include creating a dedicated inclusion, diversity, and equity staff position at National FFA. They’ll also relaunch the H.O. Sargent Award to recognize individuals who have achieved success in promoting inclusion, diversity, and equity in agricultural education and the FFA. They’ll also develop an Agricultural Education for All immersion curriculum and an online platform to build empathy, respect, and inclusion for others, as well as training educators to be Agricultural Education for All facilitators. Dr. Roger Cleveland, director of the Center for Research on the Eradication of Educational Disparities, has been working closely with FFA to develop the roadmap.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 2, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Asia's Exporters Heal Slowly From COVID Asia's manufacturing engines just turned in another month of fitful progress, as September's purchasing managers indexes look a bit brighter, with a few exceptions. Bloomberg is reporting this week that that India's factory gauge surged further into expansion, while still making up for a record-low reading in April and with more challenges ahead given a worsening COVID-19 outbreak. Japan's PMI rose to the highest level since February but continues to contract. Vietnam improved to its best level in more than a year and Thailand and the Philippines each edged higher. Indonesia brought the biggest bad news, with its gauge slumping as Jakarta reintroduced restrictions to curb the spread of coronavirus cases. Bloomberg also says that the PMI reports for several “bellwethers for the global rebound in trade – South Korea and Taiwan – won't be available until later in October, and that China's Caixin PMI is now set for release Oct. 8, due to holidays.” A few of the PMIs followed more hopeful signs for the regional recovery, a separate report Thursday showed South Korean exports gaining for the first time since the pandemic hit. Also, Wednesday's figures from China indicate “further momentum in economic activity.” For Vietnam, the manufacturing jump was overshadowed by a string of other data and developments in the Southeast Asian nation over the past 24 hours. For example, the U.S. is readying a probe into Vietnam's currency practices, Bloomberg says, thickening the long-term plot of sticky U.S.-Vietnam relations on the sidelines of the U.S.-China trade war. Bloomberg also says that on Wednesday Vietnam reported an acceleration in third-quarter growth – although the rate was “slower than expected.” Nevertheless, Bloomberg concludes that “the warning more broadly from Wall Street economists heading into the final quarter of the year is that the best is already over for recovery” of this region. They suggest now that, “what started off as a sprint is turning into a slog.” In a side note Wednesday, Bloomberg noted a report that suggested that China's tech companies will face a tougher time globally in the future as digital decoupling accelerates and countries with shared values join forces to promote their technology standards and ethics, according to a report from the Hinrich Foundation. Moves by the U.S. against companies such as TikTok, WeChat, Huawei Technologies Co. and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. are only the beginning of a deeper shift that will also see the European Union and international organizations rethink how they engage with Chinese technology, said the Asia-based foundation set up by U.S. entrepreneur Merle Hinrich. Australia, Japan and the UK have already followed the U.S. in banning Huawei from 5G networks. India has prohibited more than 100 Chinese apps including the video-sharing platform TikTok. In addition, in August, the U.S. launched a so-called Clean Network initiative that aims to oust Chinese technology from wireless and digital networks on the grounds that it poses national security threats. The following month, China released its Global Initiative on Data Security that ostensibly calls for global standards for data security—an effort that could also be construed as an attempt to deter others from signing up for Washington's program. “These actions have created an existential crisis for Chinese companies, which have come under fire as they are increasingly viewed as de facto proxies of the Chinese Communist Party,” said Alex Capri, a Singapore-based research fellow who authored the report. “In the broader context of a U.S.-China technology cold war, Chinese companies' linkage to Beijing has relegated them to the status of malign actors.” Chinese actions such as the clamping down on freedoms in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong – where Beijing abruptly imposed a new national security law in June – are also stoking concern about reliance on the country's technology internationally. China has repeatedly called such matters its own internal affairs and warned against foreign interference. EU leaders are expected to call for a rebalancing of their economic relations with China at a summit Thursday in Brussels. The report said that, “regardless of whether Republican incumbent Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden is in the Oval Office, Washington will accelerate efforts to block Chinese tech firms from expanding into overseas markets.” This will make technology a cornerstone of global diplomacy, which could lead to the creation of new institutions and rule frameworks for governing technology and data, the report added. The linkage of technology to fundamental ideological values is a key factor leading countries to reconsider their stance, according to the report. “There's been this sort of 'wake up moment' that's produced this incredible backlash from the West in particular,” Capri said in an interview. “We're starting to see a closing of the ranks from liberal democracies around the world, which is not a good thing for China's system of techno-authoritarianism and, by extension, Chinese technology companies in general.” So, we will see. Clearly, the pushback against rapid Chinese expansion in many markets is intensifying, but China's markets are tempting, as well. So far, efforts to negotiate deals on both the supply and demand side seem to have fallen in sharp political disfavor—a development that possibly will be difficult to maintain in the face of market realities. These are developments which should be watched closely by producers as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 2, 2020 |


UK Beef Shipment En Route To US A shipment of meat from Northern Ireland is on its way to the U.S., decades after a mad cow disease scare prompted the U.S. to block all imports of UK beef. The shipment, the first since 1996, comes amid negotiations toward a bilateral trade deal. An audit by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service in March led to the U.S. lifting the ban on beef imports from all of the UK—England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Trump administration wants Britain to remove a ban on imports of American beef produced with artificial growth hormones.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 2, 2020 |


CR Signing To Set Farm Program Payments In Motion Approval of the continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded through December 11 and provide for $20 billion in Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) borrowing authority means that the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will start the process of making a series of “regular” farm program-related payments to farmers. FSA will start processing payments for Transition Incentives Program (TIP), Emergency Forestry CRP (EFCRP) and for some Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts October 2, for Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payments on October 6, other CRP payments October 9 and for ARC Individual Option Contracts on October 26.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday October 2, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department is expected to show an increase in September non-farm payrolls at 7:30 a.m. CDT, along with the U.S. unemployment rate. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index will be updated at 9 a.m. Traders continue to keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts for the U.S., South America and the Black Sea. Any news of an export sale will also be noted. Weather Frosty temperatures were noted across the Upper Midwest and Northern/Central Plains Friday morning. Isolated showers will be found around the Great Lakes Friday while a system will bring light showers to the Northern and Central Plains later in the day. Overall conditions are good yet again for harvest and fieldwork.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 1, 2020 |


USDA Releases Grain Stocks Report The Quarterly Grain Stocks report shows old crop corn stocks on hand as of September 1, 2020, totaled 2.0 billion bushels, down ten percent from a year ago. Old crop soybeans stored in all positions were down 42 percent, and all wheat stocks were down eight percent from a year earlier. Released by the Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service, the report found that of the total corn stocks, 751 million bushels were stored on farms, down eight percent from a year earlier. Off-farm stocks, at 1.24 billion bushels, were down 12 percent from a year ago. Old crop soybeans stored in all positions totaled 523 million bushels. Soybean stocks stored on farms totaled 141 million bushels, down 47 percent, and off-farm stocks, at 382 million bushels, were down 41 percent. All wheat stored in all positions totaled 2.16 billion bushels. On-farm stocks were estimated at 705 million bushels, down four percent, and off-farm stocks were down ten percent at 1.45 billion bushels. NASS also released the Small Grains Annual Summary report. The report found All wheat production totaled 1.83 billion bushels in 2020, down five percent from the revised 2019 total of 1.93 billion bushels. Area harvested for grain totaled 36.7 million acres, down two percent from 2019, and The United States yield was estimated at 49.7 bushels per acre, down 2.0 bushels from 2019. ************************************************************************************ NFU: Pandemic Revealed Need for Reform in the Food and Farm System Pandemic-related disruptions have exposed underlying weaknesses in the food and farm system, according to the National Farmers Union. NFU President Rob Larew told the House Small Business Committee Wednesday during a hearing the need for significant structural reforms to protect farmers and consumers from similar disruptions in the future. One of the primary contributors to supply chain delays and food shortages has been widespread corporation consolidation, particularly in the meat processing industry, Larew told the lawmakers. As a solution, Larew proposed policies that would stem the tide of consolidation and build out regional food infrastructure. NFU says another major problem is chronic oversupply. In recent months, restaurant closures and shifting demand has made matters worse, as Larew noted in his testimony. Though pandemic aid has helped farmers withstand persistently low prices, “policy changes are needed to address the causes – rather than simply the symptoms – of a broken farm economy.” NFU proposes a supply management system that would balance farm production with consumer demand. ************************************************************************************ Cattle Producers Welcome Sen. Fischer's HAULS Act Livestock groups this week applauded the introduction of legislation that would provide livestock haulers flexibility and critical relief from hours-of-service rules. Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, introduced the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety, or HAULS Act. The legislation would add a 150 air-mile exemption to hours of service regulations to the backend of hauls for those transporting livestock or agricultural commodities. The bill also eliminates the seasonal harvest requirements for the agriculture hours-of-service exemption, making the exemption available year-round in all states. Jon Samson, Executive Director of the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference, says, “this language provides the ag community with continued flexibility during the busiest times of the year, while expanding uniformity and clarity for the transportation of our nation’s ag products.” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duval stated, “The HAULS Act modernizes trucking regulations to meet the needs of our members,” adding, “I applaud Senator Fischer for her leadership on this important issue.” ************************************************************************************ USDA grants American Farmland Trust $2.6 million to improve soil health practice adoption A $2.6-million grant from the Department of Agriculture will help American Farmland Trust fund its Conquering Cover Crop Challenges Coast to Coast project. USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Service supplied the funding through its On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Through 20 on-farm trials and a comprehensive soil, economic, and social evaluation system, American Farmland trust will test innovative solutions and generate five years of results that will help overcome regional and crop-specific barriers to cover crop adoption. Specifically, the project will address cover crop establishment challenges in water-limited, dryland wheat systems, and challenges unique to high value, high-input specialty crops, among other goals. American Farmland Trust will partner with 13 local conservation districts, university extension departments and the private sector across seven states. The project will begin in January 2021 and run through the end of 2025. Every year, American Farmland trust will publish summary reports on the changes in the soil in response to the adopted soil health practices. ************************************************************************************ Consumer Expectations Change as the Pandemic Enters a New Season The Consumer Brands Association's latest COVID-19 poll asked more than 1,300 American adults about their opinions on the coronavirus and its effect on the country. The data shows a country normalized by a persistent threat and contending with growing anxiety over what’s ahead. When the pandemic began, 36 percent of Americans described themselves as "very concerned" in mid-March, which jumped up to a majority quickly after and has yet to dip below 50 percent since. While most Americans, 72 percent, are still optimistic about the next six months, that optimism has dipped slightly since June, from 76 percent. The perennial lengthening of the timetable for returning to normal and the whiplash changes in the news about the virus, whether driven by politics or new information, has pushed optimism lower. While the supply chain has largely solved for shortages of high-demand products like toilet paper, meat and cleaning supplies brought on by panic-buying early in the pandemic, Americans' fears over access to those products have not. ************************************************************************************ United Fresh Releases Fresh Facts on Retail Report A new report covers the increasing popularity of e-commerce and the unprecedented rise of in-home consumption triggered by COVID-19, including the continued growth of fresh fruit and vegetable sales. United Fresh Produce Association released its Q2 2020 issue of FreshFacts on Retail this week. The report measures retail price and sales trends for the top 10 fruit and vegetable commodities and other value-added produce categories. The report says growth continues in fruit and vegetables as sales surge across categories driven by consumers seeking versatile cooking and salad staples for home meal preparation, and healthy home snack options. Meanwhile, packaged salads are a top-selling organic produce commodity, followed by apples and strawberries. Consumer response to value-added fruit remains muted, while value-added vegetable sales grew. Products typically consumed in group settings declined, while products that are more challenging for consumers to handle and prepare at home drove consumer interest.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 1, 2020 |


Washington Insider: EU Eyes New Tariff Hit On US The transatlantic trade conflict isn't showing signs of winding down any time soon – and a new ruling from the World Trade Organization could mean that a fresh round of retaliatory tariffs could jeopardize economic recoveries in both the U.S. and the European Union. Bloomberg is reporting this week that the WTO gave the EU authority to impose tariffs on $4 billion of U.S. exports over illegal government aid provided to Boeing Co. The EU previously said it would act on the levies immediately to counteract $7.5 billion of tariffs Washington placed on European goods in a separate case involving Toulouse, France-based Airbus SE. The judgment comes at a delicate moment, with the U.S. presidential election just over a month away and as the U.S. and the EU struggle to recover from coronavirus-induced recessions. The EU tariffs will target coal producers, farmers and fisheries, in addition to aircraft makers, all politically important industries for the President and his Republican allies in Congress. If the two sides can't resolve the tit-for-tat aircraft dispute, “we will have another tariff fight on our hands, with consumers and producers on both sides caught in the middle and paying the price,” said Simon Lester, an associate director at the Cato Institute. A key question now is whether the EU will move quickly to trigger its tariffs against the U.S. or await the outcome of the Nov. 3 election. If the EU immediately triggers the new tariffs it could provoke the Trump administration, which claims it has already brought its Boeing subsidies into compliance. If the EU waits until after the election, there's the possibility that Brussels could find a more amenable negotiating partner in Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, whose advisers have pledged to seek a swift end to Trump's “artificial trade war” with Europe. The WTO ruling, about a third of what the EU requested, is the latest twist in the 16-year Boeing-Airbus conflict. And it represents just one of several sources of friction in the trade relationship between the EU and the U.S. The most recent troubles started in 2018 when the administration invoked national-security considerations to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum from Europe. As a U.S. military ally, the EU was infuriated and promptly retaliated with levies on U.S. goods including iconic brands such as Harley-Davidson Inc. motorcycles and Levi Strauss & Co. jeans. While both the EU and U.S. say they want to reach a settlement to the aircraft dispute, the Trump administration has rejected all of Brussels' previous overtures. The sheer number of pending disagreements between the EU and the U.S. means that a dispute could escalate quickly into a broader trade war, Bloomberg says. Earlier this month, the president renewed a threat to hit European cars with levies, a move that would draw immediate retaliation from the bloc. The Boeing case comes less than a year after the WTO hit the U.S. with a record $7.5 billion retaliation award in response to the EU's illegal subsidies to Airbus SE. The U.S. has since levied 15% duties on Airbus aircraft and 25% tariffs on a range of European consumer exports, such as Scotch and French wine. A large ruling in the Boeing case would allow the EU to retaliate over the Airbus tariffs and would also give the bloc more leverage in negotiating a settlement to the dispute. It would also allow the EU to capitalize on the delicate political situation in the U.S. as this fall's election campaigns go into full swing. “The ongoing implementation of tariffs and trade disputes appear to be contributing factors in the slowing of global economic growth, particularly in Europe and China,” St. Louis-based Arch Resources Inc.'s management wrote in its annual report in February. The proposed tariffs could also target about $700 million worth of U.S. seafood exports to the EU, which would impact Louisiana fishermen represented by Republican House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R., La. While it's still possible that the EU and U.S. could reach a negotiated settlement that avoids a tit-for-tat tariff escalation, that prospect looks increasingly remote. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he's seeking two things: A pledge from Europe to end its subsidies to Airbus and monetary compensation. “It is going to require commitments not to do it again but also paying back some element of the subsidy,” Lighthizer said in a Chatham House event in July. In July the governments of France and Spain revised the terms of their launch aid loans to Airbus to make them compatible with WTO rules. The Trump administration has already rejected the move as insufficient and alleged the EU's subsidy regime remains illegal. If the U.S. and the EU are unable to reach a settlement, the bloc's newly designated trade chief has pledged to resort to targeted levies. “We will if we will have to, but our preference would be to have an agreement with the U.S. in between where they also withdraw their tariffs,” EU trade chief Valdis Dombrovskis told Bloomberg earlier this month. So, we will see. While this dispute certainly is likely to attract U.S. attention there seems to be no real willingness to move toward settlement. Because these trade policy wars often seem to have the potential to spread quickly and widely, the policies proposed and implemented should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 1, 2020 |


USTR Requests Section 201 Investigation on Blueberries The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has requested that an investigation on imports of blueberries are hurting U.S. growers be launched by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). USTR Robert Lighthizer said the request was being made under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 and was among steps the administration is taking to “support American producers of seasonal and perishable agricultural commodities.” Depending on the outcome, the investigation could result in “safeguard” tariffs being put in place on blueberry imports. The administration held two listening sessions earlier this year relative to fresh produce issues and said in a report issued September 1 that it would request the ITC initiate the Section 201 investigation on blueberries. Typically, Section 201 investigations are triggered by a domestic industry, as this request by USTR marks only the second time in 25 years that USTR has requested such an investigation. USTR said that 98% of total U.S. blueberry imports came from five countries since 2014 and that the value of those imports has more than doubled since 2014.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 1, 2020 |


Sen. Grassley Expects No Additional SRE Actions Ahead of Election Additional decisions by the Trump administration on waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) are not likely to be made before the November 3 elections, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. The issue of small refinery exemptions (SREs) has gained in focus in the wake of the 10th Circuit Court ruling that in order to qualify for these waivers, refiners had to have requested them on an annual basis since 2011. "I think the president showed his pro-ethanol credentials by what he said about the 'gap waivers,' and that was a big win for biofuels from President Trump," Grassley said in a call with reporters. EPA data shows that there are still 17 of the gap-year SRE requests pending for the 2011-2018 compliance years, and now another 33 requests pending for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years combined.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday October 1, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets The first day of October starts with USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, U.S. personal income and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor, all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. ISM's index of U.S. manufacturing is out at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. USDA's Fats and Oils report at 2 p.m. CDT gives an update on U.S. soybean crush. Weather Scattered showers will be found around the Great Lakes Thursday but most areas will be dry with good harvest conditions, albeit with below-normal temperatures.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 30, 2020 |


Farmers to Families Food Box Program Surpasses 100 Million Boxes Delivered Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday that more than 100 million food boxes have been distributed through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. Perdue stated, “It is incredible to think that in a little more than five months, this food box program has gone from an idea to a reality that has provided more than 100 million boxes of nutritious foods.” Earlier this month, the Department of Agriculture announced it had entered into contracts with 50 entities for the third round of food box deliveries, including contracts to purchase up to $1 billion authorized by President Donald Trump. USDA is purchasing combination boxes in the third round of purchases to ensure all recipient organizations have access to fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk, and meat products. Coverage in this round of the program allocates food boxes to states based on the state's internal need to provide coverage to entities in every county in the country. ************************************************************************************ Study: COVID-19 Caused $8 Billion Loss for Ethanol Producers A new study by university economists finds ethanol producers will experience roughly $8 billion in losses this year due to the pandemic's impact on world fuel markets. The study, conducted by economists from the University of Florida and Arizona State University, was published recently in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Industrial Organization. The estimated economic loss grows to a range of $7.9 to $8.6 billion when unemployment effects are included. The study acknowledges that those estimates likely "understate the cost of COVID-19" to the ethanol industry because the impact of the pandemic on co-product output, demand and prices is not included. Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says the new study confirms the findings of an RFA analysis published in July, which found pandemic-related losses could be $7 billion or more in 2020. According to RFA, the study also underscores the importance of ensuring ethanol producers are not again left out of any stimulus package that may move forward in the weeks ahead. ************************************************************************************ CME Group to Launch Pork Cutout Futures and Options CME Group Tuesday announced plans to launch Pork Cutout futures and options. The new contracts are designed to give the U.S. pork industry and export markets tailored risk-management tools on the cutout. Tim Andriesen, CME Group managing director of agricultural products, says, “As the market has evolved, our customers continue to look for new tools to manage the price risk associated with hog and pork production.” Pending regulatory approvals, the Pork Cutout futures and options are slated to launch on November 9, and will be cash-settled to the CME Pork Cutout Index. The contracts will complement CME Lean Hog futures and options. CME Group says hogs are increasingly bought and sold in the physical market based on a formula which uses the cutout. The Pork Cutout reflects the approximate value of a hog calculated using the prices paid for wholesale cuts of pork. The new contracts will be quoted in U.S. cents per pound and will have a contract size of 40,000 pounds. ************************************************************************************ FMI Special Midyear report Outlines Increased Grocery Purchases FMI, the Food Industry Association, recently released a special mid-year report on meat sales in grocery stores. The report takes a fresh look at what was happening in the meat industry from the shopper’s perspective amid the coronavirus pandemic. As the pandemic hit the U.S. in March, shoppers quickly started stocking up on all types of food products. Meat department sales almost doubled in the first week of the pandemic, compared to the same week in 2019. While many were focused on filling their refrigerators and freezers with their purchases, consumers were also cooking more meals as home-prepared meals with meat specifically increased to 4.6 per week from 3.9 last year. The surge in demand and the impact of COVID-19 on meat suppliers resulted in a significant tightening of supply and some resulting meat inflation, as 91 percent of shoppers experienced out-of-stocks. However, FMI reports the meat department has persevered. Most shoppers continue to see meat as a good source of protein and nutrients, and many continue to believe meat belongs in a balanced diet. ************************************************************************************ Virtual Format Set For 2021 Beltwide Cotton Conferences The National Cotton Council will conduct the 2021 Beltwide Cotton Conferences virtually in January due to continued concerns regarding COVID-19’s spread. Planed for January 5 -7, the conferences bring together industry stakeholders. Those planning to participate in the 2021 live-stream event must register at the event website, cotton.org/beltwide/, which will be updated as program information becomes available. Registration will continue after the virtual 2021 event concludes to permit registered participants access to the event’s on-demand content. Registration costs for the 2021 conference have been reduced due to the virtual format, $180 for NCC members, university and USDA researchers, extension personnel, associations and consultants, $500 for non-U.S. research, extension, associations, and consultants, $350 for non-NCC members, and $75 for students. The 2021 event will begin on January 5 with the half-day Cotton Consultants Conference. The 11 cotton technical conferences, which now includes the Cotton Sustainability Conference, will provide updates on research and current and emerging technology. ************************************************************************************ USDA Awards $5 Million to Support Wetland Mitigation Banking The Department of Agriculture will award $5 million for eight new wetland mitigation banking projects through the Wetland Mitigation Banking Program. The program helps conservation partners develop or establish mitigation banks to help agricultural producers maintain eligibility for USDA programs. USDA says the wetlands will provide producers “an affordable mitigation option to remain in compliance for USDA farm bill programs while establishing banks that support wetland functions.” Wetland mitigation banks create credits through the restoration, creation, or enhancement of wetlands to compensate for impacts on wetlands at other locations. Most wetland mitigation banks, however, serve the development community and are not affordable to agricultural producers. Producers seeking benefits through most USDA programs must comply with wetland conservation provisions by affirming they will not impact wetlands on their lands. In situations where avoidance or on-site mitigation is challenging, the farm bill allows producers to mitigate their conversion activities off-site by purchasing mitigation banking credits.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 30, 2020 |


Washington Insider: New Stimulus Proposal Emerges Democratic leadership released a $2.2 trillion coronavirus response bill on Monday — but their offer would require Republicans to make concessions before a bipartisan deal is possible. The measure is $1 trillion below the Democrats' $3.4 trillion proposal from May. It would provide $436 billion for state and local governments rather than the original $915 billion and would provide another round of $1,200 payments and $600 per week extra unemployment insurance payments through January 2021, similar to the May proposal. The bill also would include new aid for airlines, restaurants and small businesses that were not included in the original legislation, as well as $225 billion for education and $75 billion for coronavirus testing, tracing and isolation measures. Bloomberg reports that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Monday about a possible bipartisan deal — and that the two plan to speak again on Tuesday, Drew Hammill, Pelosi's deputy chief of staff, said. Republicans still need to support more spending than their previous $1 trillion proposal to reach an agreement, Pelosi said late on Monday. “When he's ready to come back to the table, we're ready to have that conversation, but he has to come back with much more money to get the job done,” Pelosi said. “So, I'm hopeful. I'm optimistic.” The Trump administration has yet to weigh in on the proposal. Pelosi previously said Republicans need to agree to a top-line figure of $2.2 trillion for negotiations to result in an agreement. Republicans originally proposed a $1 trillion measure, but didn't vote on it. Senate Republicans then proposed a smaller measure, which Senate Democrats blocked. Bloomberg focused on several details in the proposal. For example, it said the bill would provide $500 stimulus payments for dependents, which is equal to what families received starting this spring, but lower than the $1,200 Democrats proposed in May. And, it would provide $20 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for the development and procurement of vaccines and therapeutics. That matches what Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, told Senate appropriators HHS needs earlier this month. It also would provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention $7 billion for a vaccination campaign and $1 billion for “an evidence-based public awareness campaign on the importance of vaccinations,” according to a summary by the House Appropriations Committee. The measure also includes $15 billion to make up for U.S. Postal Service lost revenue. It also would require states to accept mail-in ballots if they were mailed before Election Day and received within 10 days of the election — and, it would increase the maximum benefits allowed under USDA's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by 15%. Bloomberg said that the draft bill would prevent U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services from furloughing employees “if the agency has sufficient funds to pay them—and would ensure funding by restricting the Department of Homeland Security's ability to transfer funds collected from fees for immigration benefits to other federal agencies for other purposes. The agency had expected to furlough workers at the end of August, citing a decrease in immigration fees because of the coronavirus. The furlough was averted temporarily. In spite of possible progress toward a further stimulus that was seen as positive news this week, Bloomberg also noted that China was making only slow progress on the purchases of U.S. products as required by phase one of the U.S.-China trade deal. Purchases have been sliding, the report said and noted that China reduced the pace of its purchases in August, making slow progress toward trade deal goals. The value of U.S. goods bought by China declined from the previous month, led by a slowdown in energy products, according to Bloomberg calculations based on Custom's data. By the end of August, China had purchased about 32.8% of the full-year target of more than $170 billion — meaning it must buy about $115 billion of goods in the remaining four months of the year to comply with last January's deal. Purchases of energy products fell by 24% in August from the previous month, hitting about 14% of the full-year target. While China's crude oil imports from the U.S. dropped substantially from a record high in July, they are likely to rise in coming months as purchases of American crude rose before the August review of the trade deal. In addition, the U.S. and China reaffirmed their commitment to the “Phase-One deal” in August, demonstrating a willingness to cooperate even as tensions rise over a range of issues. China also cut its pork imports from the U.S. by nearly 40% in August from a month earlier, while increasing its purchases of cereals, Bloomberg said. Imports of soybeans, one of the key products in the trade deal, rose almost 300% from a month earlier and are likely to trend higher as the U.S. harvest picks up. The August data include the latest revisions, Bloomberg said. So, we will see. The proposed stimulus bill still seems quite fragile, especially as the many headline fights spread to include an increasing number of issues. Thus, this “most toxic” political year appears to continue to become even more difficult as the elections near, situations producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 30, 2020 |


CFAP 1 Payments Top $10 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 (CFAP 1) program are at $10.2 billion as of September 27, including $5 billion for livestock, $2.6 billion for non-specialty crops, $1.8 billion for dairy and $102 million for specialty crops. Funds paid for cattle total $4.3 billion, followed by $1.8 billion each for corn and milk, with $600 million for hogs and $509 million for soybeans. Payouts by state still show Iowa topping the list at $968 million followed by Nebraska ($711 million), California ($653 million), Texas ($625 million), Minnesota ($608 million) and Wisconsin ($523 million). Payment data for CFAP 2, where signup launched September 21, “will be available in the coming weeks,” according to USDA's Farm Service Agency.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 30, 2020 |


Democratic COVID Aid Plan Again Contains Farm Policy Shifts There are several provisions in the $2.2 trillion Democratic COVID aid plan that focus on nutrition and agriculture policy. It would provide additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aid, including increases in the SNAP benefit levels and funds to cover expected participation increases in the program. For agriculture policy, the plan would amend the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to allow for the use of CCC funds to deal with the removal and disposal of livestock and poultry due to supply chain disruptions during a public health emergency and would require congressional notification by USDA before any disbursement of CCC funds. Payments would be provided for livestock and poultry depopulated due to processing plant shutdowns from the health emergency with additional funds for animal health surveillance efforts. While it is not clear if the ag-policy-related provisions will become law, the details are a clear signal of what will likely be components in the next debate on an omnibus farm bill that will start to unfold in 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 30, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:15 a.m. CDT, the ADP report of U.S. private employment in September will give a clue about Friday's non-farm payrolls report from the Labor Department. An index of pending home sales is due out at 9:00 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m., including ethanol. At 11 a.m. CDT, USDA will release its quarterly report of Sept. 1 Grain Stocks and Small Grains Summary. Weather Showers will be isolated and limited to the Great Lakes region, where delays in harvest of corn and soybeans will be possible. Other areas will remain dry with good weather for fieldwork.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 29, 2020 |


US-UK Trade talks Progressing The United States and the United Kingdom wrapped up the fourth round of trade talks this month, with another round planned for mid-October. The UK Department of International Trade says, "Significant progress has been achieved since launching negotiations in May 2020, and most chapter areas are now in the advanced stages of talks." Chief Ag Negotiator with the U.S. Trade Representative's Office, Gregg Doud, spoke Monday during an Agri-Pulse and Kansas City Agribusiness Council event. Doud told attendees, "I'm confident here that we are going to get an opportunity to engage with them and work on these issues," the issues being tariffs, biotech and market opportunity. Doud noted tariffs on U.S. products will be high when the UK leaves the European Union, upwards of 25 percent. However, for beef, pork and poultry, the UK imports $4.5 billion of meat from the European Union. Doud says, “if we can get things right, I think we will have a fair shot at that,” giving U.S. meat producers a new market. ************************************************************************************ Beijing Asks Frozen Food Importers to Shun Countries with Severe Coronavirus Beijing has asked frozen food importers to not import products from counties with severe coronavirus. The Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau said in a statement issued to import companies, “Customs and local governments have repeatedly detected the coronavirus in imported cold chain food, proving it risks contamination,” according to Reuters. The Bureau urged importers to “proactively avoid importing cold chain food from areas heavily hit by the coronavirus,” while also asking importers to improve warning and reporting mechanisms related to testing products for the virus. This month, China suspended seafood imports from producers in Brazil, Indonesia and Russia for a week or more, because of coronavirus contamination. Earlier this summer, China also halted imports from a U.S. Tyson Foods plant. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and other world health organizations say the risk of contracting coronavirus from food is low. However, China has reportedly stamped out much of the virus, and is on high alert for any possible re-contamination. ************************************************************************************ NPPC, AFBF Seek to Cancel California Prop 12 The National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation seek to terminate California’s Proposition 12. The two groups recently jointly filed their opening brief to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, asking the court to strike California's Proposition 12 as invalid. AFBF and NPPC say Proposition 12 imposes arbitrary animal housing standards that reach outside of California's borders to farms across the United States. By attempting to regulate businesses outside of its borders, California's Proposition 12 violates the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, according to the court brief. Beginning in 2022, Proposition 12 prohibits the sale of pork not produced according to California's production standards. The proposition applies to any uncooked pork sold in the state, whether raised there or outside its borders. Currently, less than one percent of U.S. pork production meets Proposition 12's requirements. To comply with Proposition 12, U.S. hog farmers need to start making investment decisions today to be ready by the implementation date. ************************************************************************************ USDA Releases Annual Report Showing GMO Planted Acres The Department of Agriculture says more than 90 percent of U.S. corn, cotton and soybeans are produced using genetically engineered seeds. Through an annual report on GE planted crops, USDA’s Economic Research Service says most of these GE seeds are herbicide-tolerant, insect-resistant, or both, known as stacked traits. The share of U.S. soybean acres planted with herbicide-tolerant seeds rose from seven percent in 1996 to 68 percent in 2001, before plateauing at 94 percent in 2014. Insect-resistant soybeans are not yet commercially available. Adoption rates for herbicide-tolerant corn grew relatively slowly at first, but then plateaued at 89 percent in 2014. The share of insect-resistant corn acreage grew from approximately eight percent in 1997 to 82 percent in 2020. USDA says increases in adoption rates for insect-resistant corn may be due to the commercial introduction of new varieties resistant to the corn rootworm and the corn earworm. Meanwhile, herbicide-resistant cotton acres in 2019 reached 95 percent, and insect-resistant cotton was 88 percent of total planted acres. ************************************************************************************ Bayer XtendFlex Soybeans Gain Final Approval Bayer announced Monday that the European Commission has authorized XtendFlex soybean technology for food, feed, import and processing in the European Union. The milestone represents the final key authorization for XtendFlex soybeans. With the approval, Bayer can now look forward to a full launch in the United States and Canada in 2021 and expects to be in a strong position to supply 20 million U.S. soy acres when the selling season arrives. XtendFlex soybeans, Bayer’s newest soybean technology, are built upon the high-yielding Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybean technology with the additional tolerance to glufosinate herbicides. That means XtendFlex soybeans are resistant to three herbicides, glyphosate, dicamba and the newly added glufosinate. XtendFlex soybeans will be Bayer’s second major product launch in soybeans in the last five years. Lisa Safarian, President of Crop Science North America at Bayer, says, "XtendFlex soybeans are the latest example of Bayer developing innovative products to help farmers meet challenges on their farm.” ************************************************************************************ European Company Raises Funds for Large-scale Cultured Meat Production Mosa Meat, the European food technology company which introduced the world's first cultured beef hamburger in 2013, announced the first closing of $55 million as part of a larger Series B funding round. The company will use the funds to extend its current pilot production facility, develop an industrial-sized production line, expand its team, and introduce cultivated beef to consumers. While no date has been announced for an introduction to consumers, the company will work with regulators to achieve approval to serve consumers in Europe. The Series B funding round is led Blue Horizon Ventures, a food technology fund that aims to support and promote a positive global impact on the environment, human health, and animal welfare. Company CEO Maarten Bosch says the funding supports efforts to “make progress towards a cleaner, kinder way of making real beef, and ultimately increase the resilience, sustainability, and safety of our global food system.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 29, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Almost Everything's An Issue Now Centrist Democrats are pushing for another vote in the House on a coronavirus response stimulus bill, but the key question is whether high-level bipartisan negotiators can strike a deal. Bloomberg reports that lawmakers will “return to Washington with little time left for stimulus talks and other urgent priorities” after their coming recess. House members are set to leave at the end of this week until after the election. Senators still have to pass the stopgap funding measure to avert a shutdown by Wednesday night's deadline — and Republicans are racing to confirm President Donald Trump's pick for the U.S. Supreme Court before the Nov. 3 election. House members may vote on a second Democratic coronavirus bill in order to demonstrate they're willing to compromise, Bloomberg says. But a handshake deal between Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin would likely be more meaningful than a partisan vote. Pelosi and Mnuchin spoke Friday afternoon on coronavirus relief and “agreed to continue their conversation in the days ahead,” Pelosi's deputy chief of staff noted on Friday. Pelosi said Sunday there's a chance she and Mnuchin can still reach a deal and that Democrats will unveil a new “proffer” shortly. “I trust Secretary Mnuchin to present something that can reach a solution and I believe we can come to an agreement,” she said.” She added if a deal isn't struck soon, Democrats might vote on the House — only version that includes funds for airlines and restaurants and more Paycheck Protection Program funding. “The public is going to have to see why $2.2 trillion, or now $2.4 trillion, perhaps, is necessary,” she said, adding that the president's “denial of the virus, and resistance to do anything to crush it, has made matters worse.” Swing-district Democrats are pushing for action regardless of whether there's a deal. Eight moderate Democrats sent a letter to Pelosi on Friday, asking her to “bring up a bill that “demonstrates our commitment to meeting Republicans in the middle, as we have expressed our willingness to do, and advance it through the House with the haste this crisis demands.” The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Cindy Axne, Abby Finkenauer and David Loebsack of Iowa, Susan Wild of Pennsylvania., Angie Craig of Minnesota, Susie Lee of Nevada, and Chris Pappas of New Hampshire, as well as Del. Michael San Nicolas of Guam. In the meantime, House leadership has downplayed the importance of a messaging vote. “We want to get a deal with Secretary Mnuchin and the Senate because we want to get people help, not just messages,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters last week. In addition, House Democrats' lawsuit over the administration's transfer of funds to pay for a border wall was revived last week by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals decision. A three-judge panel on Friday vacated a lower-court decision that found that the House didn't have legal standing to challenge the transfer of funds. The opinion written by Judge David Sentelle “makes for interesting reading” for those who follow the budget and appropriations process, Bloomberg says. It notes that the House sued over the Trump administration's move to supersede congressional appropriations and that the House alone, without the Senate, doesn't have standing to sue. The question was whether the House as an individual chamber was specifically injured by the administration's decision to spend money without congressional approval. The court ruled in the House's favor on its standing to sue, saying that while an individual chamber can't appropriate funds on its own, it can effectively block appropriations, because both chambers need to pass a bill before it can become law. In other words, “each chamber has a distinct individual right” in the appropriations process, especially when it comes to limiting spending, the opinion says. “To put it simply, the Appropriations Clause requires two keys to unlock the Treasury, and the House holds one of those keys,” the opinion says. “The Executive Branch has, in a word, snatched the House's key out of its hands. That is the injury over which the House is suing.” While it may seem like the argument is splitting hairs over the legislative powers of the House versus Congress as a whole, Sentelle's opinion lays out why the powers of an individual chamber matter in the appropriations process. Under the administration's “standing paradigm,” the Executive Branch can freely spend Treasury funds as it wishes unless and until a veto-proof majority of both houses of Congress forbids it. Even that might not be enough: Under the defendants' standing theory, if the Executive Branch ignored that congressional override, the House would remain just as disabled to sue to protect its own institutional interests. “That turns the constitutional order upside down.” So, we will see. As the time before the elections dwindles, and the stakes rise, these battles can be expected to become increasingly intense — and, possibly, more frequent. They are often “high stakes” fights and should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 29, 2020 |


USDA Raises Forecast For Overall Food Price Inflation And Restaurant Prices For 2020 USDA Friday increased its forecast for overall food price inflation in 2020 to range of 2.5% to 3.5%, up from their prior outlook of an increase of 2% to 3%. Their outlook for food away from home (restaurant prices) also rose to 2% to 3% versus a prior outlook for an increase of 1.5% to 2.5%. “Prices have been relatively slow to retreat from the highs reached as a result of the pandemic, so some forecasts have been revised upward this month,” USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) said. USDA still sees 2020 food at home (grocery store) prices rising 2.5% to 3.5% in 2020. Their outlooks for 2021 food prices were left unchanged from their outlook issued in August.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 29, 2020 |


Beijing Asks Food Importers to Avoid Frozen Foods From Countries With High COVID Infection Levels The city of Beijing is calling on food importers to avoid frozen food from countries with high levels of COVID-19 outbreaks, according to a statement from the Beijing Municipal Commerce Bureau. "Customs and local governments have repeatedly detected the coronavirus in imported cold chain food, proving it risks contamination," the agency said in a statement issued to import companies, according to Reuters. The agency also told food importers to "proactively avoid importing cold chain food from areas heavily hit by the coronavirus" and make alternative plans for imports. Chinese authorities said they had suspended some seafood imports from two Russian vessels and a Brazilian company after COVID-19 was found in samples.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 29, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets An index of U.S. consumer confidence is due out at 9 a.m. CDT and is Tuesday's only official report. The latest weather forecasts will be watched for the U.S., the Black Sea Region and for South America. Traders will also be watching for any trade news that develops. Weather With a front pushing showers into the East Coast, mostly dry conditions are expected for the primary growing regions on Tuesday. Some breezy winds in the Plains may help with dry down as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 28, 2020 |


House Passes a Clean Energy Bill The House of Representatives passed a broad bill that intends to help the U.S. boost energy efficiency and renewable energy sources in an effort to combat climate change. The Hill says the chamber passed the 900-page Clean Energy and Jobs Innovation Act by a 220-185 vote. The legislation intends to create research and development programs for different forms of energy, including solar, wind, advanced geothermal energy, and hydroelectric power, as well as new ways to lower pollution from fossil fuel production. The bill also establishes more rigorous building codes and bolsters energy efficiency requirements and weatherization programs. A similar energy innovation bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year but seemed to stall until recently. The Senate bill is moving again after lawmakers agreed on an amendment seeking to phase down the use of a type of greenhouse gas. A senior House Democratic aide tells The Hill that if the Senate can pass its own bill, the chambers can go to conference to settle any disagreements. While Democrats support the bill, Republicans point out that it will cost over $135 billion. Three House GOP members says the bill is “full of government mandates that will make Americans pay more money for everything from the vehicles they drive to heating and cooling their homes.” ********************************************************************************************** Biofuel Groups Applaud House Passage of RFS Integrity Act Growth Energy is happy about the inclusion of the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act contained in the clean energy legislation that passed the House last Thursday. The act was authored by House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson, along with representatives from other ag states like South Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and Kansas. It is designed to bring much-needed transparency to the Environmental Protection Agency’s secretive small refinery exemption process and ensure refiners meet biofuel blending requirements. “After years of EPA mismanagement, the legislation will finally give farmers and biofuel producers a long-overdue peek at EPA’s secretive and destructive process,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. The National Biodiesel Board is also pleased that the act is included in the House clean energy bill. The provision would set a June 1 deadline for annual small refinery exemption petitions, ensuring they’ll be accounted for in the RFS calculations. Also, the bill would require public disclosure of the volumes of biofuels potentially impacted by the petition, along with the name of the petitioner. Kurt Kovarik, NBB VP of Federal Affairs, says, “This is a commonsense step to ensure that RFS biomass-based diesel volumes are fully met and prevent a recurrence of the demand destruction for biodiesel that we’ve seen for the last seven years.” ********************************************************************************************** AGs Against Eliminating Swine Slaughter Line Speeds Seven attorneys general and two agriculture groups get to file briefs in a lawsuit challenging a USDA rule that eliminated line-speed limits at swine slaughter plants. A DTN report says on October 1 of last year, the Food Safety Inspection Service finalized the rule that cut the number of federal inspectors by 40 percent at swine plants while also eliminating limits on line speeds. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union filed a lawsuit six days later, asking the U.S. District Court in Minnesota to set aside the rule. The union says USDA didn’t take into consideration how it would affect safety issues and risks for line workers. The seven AGs will file a brief in support of a motion for summary judgement filed by the workers union. Additionally, the National Pork Producers Council and the North American Meat Institute will file a brief in support of the USDA motion for summary judgement. The plaintiffs allege in the lawsuit that “USDA’s failure to consider overwhelming recorded evidence that indicates faster line speeds subject workers to substantially increased risk of injury was arbitrary and capricious.” The workers union also says USDA didn’t provide an adequate reason for the decision to reduce the number of federal inspectors by 40 percent at each site. *****************************************t***************************************************** Ag Groups Want U.S. to Remain in WTO A coalition of 62 leading U.S. agriculture stakeholders are asking for continued U.S. membership in the World Trade Organization. A Corn Refiners Association release says the groups sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, as well as leaders of the Senate Finance, House Ways and Means, and the House and Senate Ag Committees calling for effective WTO reform. That reform would enhance the ability of American agriculture to access foreign markets and maintain transparency and accountability critical to future export growth that will help to support American jobs. The letter also identifies characteristics they’re looking for in the next WTO Director General. “The WTO is fundamental to a rules-based system of international trade,” says John Bode, President and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association. “As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential. This is critical to the one-fifth of the U.S. economy that is related to agriculture.” The letter does note the need for the WTO to institute updated rules in order to keep pace with global economic changes and calls for increased accountability among members. A transition in leadership “presents a great opportunity to successfully implement reform and reinvigorate its negotiating function under a new Director General.” ********************************************************************************************** China Officials Downplay Fears of Grain Shortages Beijing wants the rest of the world to know that the most-populated country in the world is not looking at a grain shortage. China’s Ag Minister is blaming speculators for rapidly rising corn prices which are stoking fears about a possible shortage in the Asian nation. Corn prices in China recently hit an eight-year high following events like typhoons and flooding that damaged the nation’s Corn Belt. The South China Morning Post says it saw firsthand that large areas of cropland were flattened. As a result, local farmers are concerned about a steep drop in what they can produce. Chinese corn imports, used mainly in animal feed, hit the highest level in almost 30 years during the first eight months of 2020, increasing anxiety about a possible domestic supply gap. However, the nation’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs says the surging prices were caused by “market speculation and irrational hoarding.” He says the country has ample supplies of corn and is set to harvest another bumper crop in the autumn, despite the impact of natural disasters in two provinces that account for 25 percent of China’s corn production. “New corn will enter the market soon and the supply will further increase,” he says. “Corn prices are already starting to stabilize.” ********************************************************************************************** Next Generation Fuels Act Introduced in House Higher-octane fuels like mid-and-high-level ethanol blends are mutually beneficial for drivers, farmers, and the environment. Because of that, Representative Cheri Bustos (BOOS-tohs) introduced the Next Generation Fuels Act, which would increase gasoline octane to a minimum standard of 98 Research Octane Number (RON) through low-carbon renewable fuels. The National Farmers Union, a long-time supporter of higher blends of ethanol, is pleased with the bill’s introduction. “There are so many reasons to widely adopt low-carbon, high octane ethanol blends,” says President Rob Larew. “They significantly improve vehicle fuel efficiency, which reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” He also says the new standards would create new markets for family farmers, supporters of rural economic growth, and offer a cost-effective fuel for American drivers. Growth Energy is also pleased with the introduction, saying it will unleash higher-octane, lower-carbon fuels that offer drivers better mileage and fewer emissions. “There has never been a more urgent need to adopt higher-octane, low carbon ethanol blends into America’s fuel supply, as they are key to achieving clean, healthy air,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 28, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Wall Street Volatility Warning In response to President Donald Trump's promise to dispute the election outcome if he loses, “Wall Street's taking him at his word.” Several market reports are noting that volatility markets from stocks to currencies and bonds show “investors bracing for turbulence not just on election day, but for the ensuing weeks as well.” The fear is that results from the Nov. 3 vote – already the most expensive event to hedge against ever – won't be clear enough that a winner emerges without a protracted legal battle. For example, Bloomberg notes that, the election outcome itself, once you know it, that would have meaningful but not an oversize impact on the market. But the prospect of it becoming a “complete mess” is another element that people don't really know how to price. There are a lot of factors pressuring the stock market right now and the potential for a hotly contested result is certainly one of them, especially as there is already “so much social tension,” said Mark Luschini, chief investment strategist at Janney. Many argue now that an unknown election result is increasingly becoming conventional wisdom on Wall Street. “A contested election has become the baseline,” JPMorgan Chase strategist John Normand wrote in a recent note to clients. The United States has seen bitterly disputed presidential election results in the past, and many remember that in 2000, it took weeks to decide the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Legal battles raged over the recount in Florida with the Supreme Court finally weighing in to stop the recount and award the election to Bush. Stocks slid throughout that period. But 2020 is widely seen as a vastly different and more combustible environment, sparking growing unease among investors about the “impact of a muddled election result.” The U.S. also continues to face a brutal pandemic that has killed more than 200,000 Americans and spurred a massive economic decline, Politico notes. While the backdrop in 2000 came amid a dot-com stock bubble in the process of deflating, the economy was still expanding. “The fear is that if we get a disputed election, it could lead to disruption and possibly even violence. If so, we could well see markets take a significant hit,” Brad McMillan, chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network, said. “In 2000, the hanging chad debacle in Florida hit markets, and this election could well be even more disputed than that one.” Still, most Wall Street executives, traders and investment analysts widely expect the market environment to calm quickly after the election if the result is clear. For example, markets could rally on a Trump win based on the expectation of continued low tax rates and a relaxed approach to corporate regulation. A Biden win, especially if Democrats also take the Senate, could spark a short-term sell-off on fears of increased taxes on corporations and the wealthy – though that possibility is increasingly baked into expectations. Certain sectors also could face new regulation, including banks. However, a Biden win could also reduce some of the tension generated by Trump's trade wars and generally produce a less volatile daily political environment, tempering any initial sell-off. Total Democratic control would also likely lead to significant new fiscal stimulus, generally viewed as a positive on Wall Street. But the fear that is growing more intense by the day is that markets will have no idea – perhaps for weeks or months—about who will get inaugurated next Jan. 20. Numerous market reports see a “rush for volatility protection” well into December. Already, the “volatility futures curve remains elevated past the election.” Politico says. Goldman Sachs cautioned Friday that a delayed outcome is only a “tail risk” and not the most likely outcome but markets have “even more to worry about right after the vote.” The Fed will meet the week of the election for the first time since 1984, while October's jobs report will be released that Friday. Together, these uncertainties are forcing traders to protect against volatility weeks after the election passes, several reports say. November futures – which reflect the market's expectations for volatility through Nov. 18 – are more expensive than October, while December futures prices have been creeping higher as traders increasingly anticipate a delayed result.” Even the Treasury market, where unprecedented Fed support has muted swings for months, is showing signs of anxiety, Politico says. Expectations for price volatility in three months versus four weeks are at a level only exceeded once in the past decade. Some traders have been buying options to hedge a potential rush of capital from investors fleeing stocks. So, we will see. Wall Street's concerns are widely shared across the economy right now and the situation seems unlikely to calm itself in the near term. These are certainly fights producers should watch closely, and which are likely to be both contentious and bitter, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 28, 2020 |


USDA Chief Economist Addresses COVID, China Buys Of US Ag Goods A blog post this week from USDA Chief Economist Rob Johansson outlines several factors that have been impacting U.S. agriculture, including global overproduction of several commodities. He also notes the recent rise in Chinese purchase of several U.S. ag commodities, but does not delve into recent USDA WASDE outlooks that did not appear to acknowledge what he points out relative to China “signaling” they will go beyond their corn tariff-rate quota (TRQ), for example. But a portion of the woes facing U.S. agriculture now were fostered in party global overproduction of several commodities over the 2014-2018 period.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 28, 2020 |


Farm, Food Groups Tell Trump WTO is Important to US Agriculture More than 50 agriculture groups and businesses say the U.S. should remain a World Trade Organization (WTO) member and work with other members to revamp rules to modernize the global institution. WTO supporters are concerned that President Trump might withdraw the U.S. from the institution. Many in U.S. agriculture say that could be detrimental to farm and food sectors that rely on export markets. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the groups and businesses said U.S. agriculture has largely benefited under the WTO, but said the body's rules need updating. The letter was also sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Agriculture committees and to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees. “While the WTO has been beneficial for U.S. agriculture, its rules have not kept pace with changes in the global economy, and improvement is needed to hold members accountable and improve the organizations' governance,” the letter said. “Continued U.S. membership and active participation will help ensure that necessary reforms are undertaken, and that the WTO will continue to play an important and effective role in economic development of the United States and our trading partners. As long as exports are important to U.S. agriculture, WTO membership will be essential as well.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 28, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will start the week looking at the latest weather forecasts for the U.S., Black Sea region and South America and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has any export sales announcements. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT, including USDA's latest estimates of row crop harvest progress. Weather A frontal boundary will bring scattered light to moderate showers to the eastern Midwest and Delta region on Monday. Isolated showers will also occur later today across the western Midwest. Showers will boost soil moisture for winter wheat planting in the eastern Midwest, but cause some harvest delays.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 25, 2020 |


New Report Examines Cattle Market Issues and Solutions A new report unveiled by the American Farm Bureau Federation provides an in-depth examination of the causes and price implications resulting from extreme market volatility in the cattle industry. It also sets the stage to explore policy solutions. The Cattle Market Working Group, comprised of ten state Farm Bureau presidents, spent more than two months investigating factors that led to market disruptions following the Holcomb packing plant fire and the COVID-19 pandemic. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says of the report, “We must work toward a more stable, resilient food supply chain that can better endure unforeseen challenges.” The report is designed to equip state and county Farm Bureau organizations with deep insight and policy considerations as Farm Bureau leaders debate policy recommendations for 2021. Key topics of the report include mandatory minimum negotiated trade, risk management and education, small capacity meatpacking, and strengthening the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration’s ability to enforce market rules. ************************************************************************************ Coalition Seeks CCC Funds for Farm Workers More than 160 farm groups as part of the Agriculture Workforce Coalition want Commodity Credit Corporation funds to help protect farmworkers. In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, the coalition says, "We ask for your help as we continue to promote the health and safety of our farm employees and rural communities." Pence is head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. As part of the group's recommendations, they suggest the federal government Help farmers offset COVID-19 mitigation expenses, while maintaining existing farm programs, by increasing Commodity Credit Corporation funds. These expenses include housing, transportation, retrofitting workplaces, testing, and training and compliance activities, among others. Other recommendations include prioritizing PPE and future vaccine distribution for the food and fiber supply chain, ensure COVID-19 testing resources are accessible to agricultural employers, and allow the use of alternate housing structures, such as FEMA trailers or RV’s to facilitate greater social distancing. ************************************************************************************ California Governor Signs Order to Ban Gas-powered Cars by 2035 California Governor Gavin Newsom this week signed an executive order to phase out gas-powered cars by 2035 in the state. The executive order directs the state to require that, by 2035, all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California be zero-emission vehicles. Newsome says, "This is the most impactful step our state can take to fight climate change." Following the order, the California Air Resources Board will develop regulations to mandate that 100 percent of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks are zero-emission by 2035. In addition, the Air Resources Board will establish rules to require that all operations of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles shall be 100 percent zero-emission by 2045 where feasible. Via Twitter, the National Corn Growers Association stated, “Corn farmers agree…that clean, renewable fuels have a major role to play,” adding, “Let’s work together to unlock the substantial environmental benefits that increased blends of low carbon, high octane ethanol can deliver.” ************************************************************************************ TFI Releases Fertilizer Industry Economic Impact Study The Fertilizer Institute Thursday released the Fertilizer Industry Economic Impact Study. The study highlights the U.S. fertilizer industry's importance and economic contributions to the national, state and local economies. The study found that the fertilizer industry contributed over $130 billion and nearly 500,000 jobs to the U.S. economy in 2019. TFI President and CEO Corey Rosenbusch responds, “The fertilizer industry doesn’t just help grow the food on your dinner table, we also help grow the U.S. economy.” Deemed an essential industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, fertilizer manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers and distributors have a sustained positive impact on communities all across the nation. Additionally, Rosenbusch says the movement of fertilizer alone benefits the economy to the tune of nearly $9 billion annually. The publication of the study, conducted for TFI by John Dunham and Associates, is the culmination of months of compiling data from the entire fertilizer supply chain. ************************************************************************************ Midwest lawmakers Seek Funding for Missouri River Navigation Lawmakers from Lower Missouri River states this week penned a letter urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide additional funding for navigation projects along the river. The lawmakers say many farmers, industries and small businesses in the Midwest rely on the Missouri River to transport goods. High water levels and record flooding in 2019 have prevented the Corps of Engineers from completing repairs on water infrastructure projects, which has led to dangerous accidents that have significantly disrupted commerce on the river. The lawmakers write, “there is a critically dire situation related to navigation challenges in several areas along the Missouri River where serious barge traffic accidents have occurred.” The Corps’ Kansas City District has received $20 million in emergency supplemental funds to conduct work along the navigation channel. However, the lawmakers estimate the need at $200 million. The Corps estimates that high water in the last three years damaged 50-75 percent of the 7,000 river training structures that make up the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project. ************************************************************************************ State and County Fair Support Gaining Momentum in Congress A bill providing support to state and county fairs is gaining momentum this week. Senator Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat, introduced companion legislation to a House bill that would establish funds to offset revenue losses for state and county fairs. The Protecting Fairs During Coronavirus Act, introduced in the House by Representative Josh Harder, a California Democrat, would establish a $5 billion federal grant program for state and county fairs. The fund would offset fair revenue losses during the Coronavirus pandemic and would be available for both 2020 as well as 2021. States could apply for aid from the Department of Agriculture and then distribute the funds to fairs in their state. Senator Jones says, “State and county fairs are not just an important part of our social fabric, they’re also a key part of the agriculture business.” Harder stated, “Working together, we will continue pushing to get our fairs the relief they need to weather this storm.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 25, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fed Inflation Approach Criticized Bloomberg is reporting this week that the Fed's new “hot” approach to the economy is raising questions “in some quarters.” Asset managers who've guarded against inflation during a decade of easy money and ballooning deficits have little to show for their efforts. That's still not stopping some from hedging that risk, Bloomberg says. Thirty-year market veteran Matthew McLennan of First Eagle Investment Management is among those warning that price pressures are coming down the road. He's betting easy money and further hits to productivity will spark inflation, making bigger companies with pricing-power and competitive advantage a good wager. He's also piling into gold as a pure hedge against the erosion of value caused by inflation. However, Bloomberg thinks McLennan is in the minority. The Federal Reserve's aim to let inflation run hot draws mostly derision across Wall Street after the central bank has failed to lift prices toward its 2% target for years. Even Fed officials themselves made clear Wednesday that they can't do it all, stressing that fiscal stimulus is critical to sustaining the economic recovery. Even so, some still see increased potential for inflation bubbling up. “If you think about what the Fed's inflation averaging means, it means they might be happy to see inflation move over time from 1% to 2% to 3% to 4%, while interest rates remain close to zero,” said McLennan, head of the global value team at First Eagle, which manages about $101 billion in assets. “That also means that real interest rates go down more.” What might make things different this time is that secondary impacts of the pandemic may add to growing productivity bottlenecks and America's deficit keeps surging, says McLennan. Add to that the fact that the U.S. dollar is losing its luster, he said. The fresh wave of deglobalization underfoot and second phase pandemic impacts both bode poorly for productivity, said McLennan, who was co-portfolio manager of the global equity partners group at Goldman Sachs Asset Management in London prior to joining First Eagle in 2008. That means, for him, that inflation reignites amid a backdrop of slow economic growth. Continued weakness in the dollar, with the Bloomberg Spot Dollar Index down about 9% from this year's high in March, buoys inflation through rising import prices as well. Among the array of products McLennan helps manage is the $43 billion Global Fund, which had gold as its biggest holding at about 13%, according to Bloomberg data as of Aug. 31. Another one he steers, the U.S. Value Fund, had Oracle Corp., Comcast Corp and Colgate-Palmolive Co. as it top three holdings. The Fed targets inflation as measured by the personal consumption expenditure price index. It also pays close attention to a core reading of that gauge which strips out volatile food and energy prices. Both barometers have plummeted since the pandemic. There are other notable investors and corporate heads warning on inflation, also, Bloomberg observes. Earlier this month Stan Druckenmiller said there's a chance that inflation could hit 5% to 10% in the next four to five years. Druckenmiller was the founder and manager of Duquesne Capital – and managed the Quanturn Fund with George Soros. McLennan prefers gold over other favored fixed-income hedge vehicles like Treasury inflation-protected securities, given there's a limited supply of the shiny metal. The Fed's monetary stimulus already pushed key measures of the U.S. money supply up by double digits. “The rate of supply growth of gold is less than 2% a year, bringing us back to the idea of scarcity value,” McLennan said. Traders see consumer price inflation averaging about 1.6% over the next 10 years, based on so-called breakeven rates garnered by TIPS and nominal Treasuries. That's down from an 8-month high on Sept. 1. Gold prices have also ebbed, both likely driven lower in part on the inability of Congress to agree on a phase four fiscal stimulus package. The global recovery also risks losing steam as virus cases rise and some nations roll back reopening measures, Bloomberg said. And, it sees the U.S. presidential election as another wild card. “If we get a Democrat clean sweep it's more likely than not we are going to see more rapid growth in the federal register and regulation” which tend to reduce productivity, McLennan said. Slow grow and rising inflation are probable with “these productivity bottlenecks coming with a Fed that's willing to let inflation run hot.” So, we will see. Clearly, inflation is a trend deeply feared by many who remember bouts in the recent past. However, the current priorities are economic growth and jobs recovery and the Fed is likely to push for its inflation targets to achieve those goals — trends producers should watch closely as these economic debates intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 25, 2020 |


WTO Members Press U.S. On Farmer Aid The U.S. Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and Market Facilitation Program (MFP) efforts have caught the attention of WTO members, as Canada, the EU, India, Australia, Brazil, Paraguay, New Zealand, Uruguay, Paraguay and Colombia used a WTO session this week to criticize the U.S. efforts. They are calling on the U.S. to explain the around $34 billion in what they consider trade-distorting payments in 2019. The WTO cap for those “amber box” subsidies is $19.1 billion. The countries also raised the latest up to $14 billion CFAP 2 program announced last Friday. But countries also raised questions about aid the EU is providing to its farmers in response to the COVID-19 situation, indicating that all countries have taken actions to help their farmers in the wake of the pandemic.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 25, 2020 |


USDA's Perdue Likes China Ag Buys, But Wants to See Shipments USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue this week said he is hopeful that China can meet its purchase commitments of U.S. farm products via the Phase One trade deal by February, the end of the first year of the deal. Perdue said “it is going to be tough to meet those numbers ($36.5 billion first year). This is just purely a guess; we may reach it by the end of January before Brazil and South America come back into the marketplace.” While there are hefty export sales on the books, Perdue said he wants to see shipments, saying China is known for booking and later cancelling sales. “It does appear they are trying, but it remains to be seen if we will make those numbers or not.” Data for the week ended September 17 from USDA included the following export sales figure for China for 2020/21: Net sales of 566,427 metric tons of corn, 262,400 mt of sorghum, 1,879,091 mt of soybeans, 39,482 running bales of upland cotton, but net reductions of 600 metric tons of wheat. For 2020, USDA reported net sales of 3,396 metric tons of beef and 8,161 metric tons of pork. Shipments of U.S. ag products to China also continues, with exports the week ending September 17 including 58,370 mt of wheat, 204,368 mt of corn, 71,552 mt of sorghum, 769,309 mt of soybeans, 117,690 running bales of upland cotton, 1,200 mt of beef and 10,943 mt of pork.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 25, 2020 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday's official reports include U.S. durable good orders for August at 7:30 a.m. CDT and USDA's monthly cattle on-feed report, due out at 2 p.m. CDT. Other market interests include the latest weather forecasts for the U.S., Black Sea region and South America, as well as any trade news that develops. Weather Friday will again be dry and open for row crop harvest and winter wheat planting in primary crop areas. Temperatures will be above to much above normal, adding to crop drying. Rain will be confined to the far southeastern U.S. with harvest disruption and possible crop quality impact.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 24, 2020 |


Farm Groups Applaud CCC Agreement The decision by House lawmakers to include Commodity Credit Corporation funding in the continuing resolution demonstrates their support for America’s farmers, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation. The stopgap measure provides nearly $8 billion for nutrition assistance programs, replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation, and stipulate some Congressional oversight of spending through CCC. Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “While we were disappointed it recently became a political flashpoint, we are pleased lawmakers on both sides of the aisle recognize that these funds help to sustain conservation programs and stock America’s pantry.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew stated, “We are relieved that the House has come to an agreement.” The agreement, passed by the House 359-57, keeps the federal government funded through December 11. Republicans and some House Democrats representing rural areas were critical of the original House proposal that didn’t include CCC funding. Democrats were seeking accountability in the program, referring to a White House proposal that would have used CCC funds for oil companies. ************************************************************************************ Cattle Market Transparency Act Introduced The Cattle Market Transparency Act introduced this week seeks to restore transparency and accountability in the cattle market. Senator Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, introduced the bill. Fischer says, “The past few years have been very difficult for producers.” Fischer noted the Tyson Foods plant fire in Kansas, and supply chain challenges due to COVID-19. The bill would establish regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. It requires the Secretary of Agriculture to establish regionally sufficient levels of negotiated cash trade, seek public comment on those levels, then implement. The legislation also requires USDA to create and maintain a library of marketing contracts between packers and producers, and require packers to supply the information to USDA. The bill also would mandate that a packer report the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days. This requirement already exists for the swine industry. ************************************************************************************ Senate Hearing Focuses on Changes to the Endangered Species Act A Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing Wednesday focused on efforts to modernize the Endangered Species Act. The Endangered Species Act Amendments Act of 2020 reauthorizes the ESA for the first time since 1992. Florida rancher Liesa Priddy says the legislation, “will be better for ranchers, better for states, better for the federal authorities, and better for the species.” Priddy testified on behalf of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council. The organizations support the legislation that they say empowers states to lead recovery efforts and gives stakeholders, like ranchers, who make significant investments in voluntary conservation a more meaningful seat at the table in recovery discussions. Senator John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican, says state and local experts need to be leading efforts to protect local wildlife. His legislation will increase local input and improve transparency in the listing process. Barrasso says the bill also protects endangered species and helps communities invest in more conservation and recovery activities. ************************************************************************************ Ethanol and Farm Groups Call on EPA to Reject Remaining Waivers A coalition of farm and ethanol groups want the Environmental Protection Agency to take the “next step” in denying waivers under the Renewable Fuel Standard. While the groups say EPA’s recent announcement that it has denied 54 petitions for “gap year” small refinery exemptions under the RFS was indeed a big step forward, “there is more work to be done to fully restore integrity to the RFS.” There are 50 exemption petitions still awaiting a decision, and EPA still has not released the 2021 RVO proposal. The Renewable Fuels Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, National Corn Growers Association and National Farmers Union worked together and won a unanimous federal court decision in January that they say should have put an end to EPA’s abuse of the refinery exemption program. There are 17 gap-year petitions remaining and 33 pending exemption requests for 2019 and 2020. In a press conference Wednesday, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper stated, “EPA needs to reject those the second they come through the front door,” from the Department of Energy. ************************************************************************************ Cross-Industry Collaboration Launches Million-Acre Grazing Initiative The Walmart Foundation, Cargill and McDonald's are investing more than $6 million in an initiative led by the World Wildlife Fund that aims to improve the grasslands of the Northern Great Plains. The new program, known as the Ranch Systems and Viability Planning, or RSVP network, will support ranchers across the ecoregion-focusing primarily on Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. The Network will provide technical expertise, training and tools to help advance grazing practices that improve the health of the land. By improving management of one million acres over five years and avoiding conversion, the effort will increase carbon storage and sequestration, improved water infiltration, and better biodiversity outcomes. Kathleen McLaughlin of the Walmart Foundation says, "Collaborative efforts like this can accelerate innovative, sustainable solutions and support ranchers in the beef supply chain." The World Wildlife Fund will work with ranchers on private and tribal lands to provide extension services in one-on-one and group workshops, offer ongoing technical expertise and provide cost-share and monitoring to help ranchers design, document and implement ranch plans. ************************************************************************************ General Mills to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions General Mills announced a pledge to reduce absolute greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent across its full value chain - from farm to fork to landfill - over the next ten years. The company also committed to a long-term goal to achieve net-zero emission levels by 2050. The absolute greenhouse gas commitment was calculated using methodologies approved by the Science Based Target Initiative that model a level of emission reductions that science suggests is necessary to sustain the planet's health. The framework focuses on advancing regenerative agriculture across the company's sourcing footprint on one million acres by 2030. General Mills says up to one-third of greenhouse gases stem from the food system, and an estimated 80 percent of which comes from agriculture. In 2019, General Mills committed to advancing regenerative agriculture on one million acres of farmland by 2030. The company defines regenerative agriculture as holistic, principles-based farming and ranching that seeks to strengthen ecosystems and community resilience.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 24, 2020 |


Washington Insider: House Passes Stop Gap Funding Bill The House passed a stopgap funding measure “through Dec. 11” on Wednesday night, overcoming a fight over farm and nutrition aid and preparing for a frantic lame duck session at the end of the year. The bill now heads to the Senate, where its “chances of passage are good” after Republicans got the farm aid they demanded. The stopgap would provide $21 billion spending authority by accelerating the reimbursement of USDA's Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). It also would provide almost $8 billion in funds to feed children who normally receive school lunches — an increase from the $2 billion Democrats had earlier considered. Lawmakers from agriculture-heavy states, including some centrist Democrats, pushed for the farm aid measure after President Donald Trump last week announced $13 billion in “farm aid” through the Commodity Credit Corporation. On Monday, Democrats had released a version of the measure that did not contain the farm bailout provision, enraging Republicans and putting passage of the bill in doubt — and thus raising the chances of a government shutdown. It also became apparent that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., did not have the votes to pass it. Democrats have complained that Trump administration farm relief has favored southern states such as Georgia — a key swing state and home of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue — and larger producers. “The Trump Administration has proven they cannot be trusted to distribute payments fairly,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee. She added that the Agriculture Department doesn't need the authority to meet farm bill obligations. But other Democrats, including endangered House incumbents in states like Iowa and Minnesota, pressed for the farm aid, the Washington Post reported. The stopgap funding bill also comes as negotiations on a huge COVID-19 relief bill remain stalled and as the Capitol has been thrust into an unprecedented political drama with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, which has launched an intense election-season Senate confirmation fight. The spending proposal, called a continuing resolution, or CR, in Washington-speak, would keep every federal agency running at current funding levels through Dec. 11, which will keep the government afloat past the election and possibly reshuffle Washington's balance of power. Appropriators have committed to trying to pass an omnibus spending measure by Dec. 11, Speaker Pelosi said on Wednesday. Bloomberg called that “an ambitious goal in less than three months, indicating lawmakers could assemble a few large packages, if not a single 12-bill omnibus measure.” The House passed 10 of its 12 bills, but Senate appropriators have not marked up or release any appropriation bills. “We'll proceed with what we have accomplished on the floor of the House, they'll post what their bills might be, our appropriators will go to conference,” Pelosi said, adding that appropriators have a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to try to have an omnibus “finished by Dec. 11.” The continuing resolution released and passed yesterday doesn't follow an earlier agreement to leave coronavirus measures out of the stopgap funding bill — but Democrats got a substantial amount of food aid funds in return, Pelosi said in the interview yesterday. “The definition of a clean CR on the Republican side is, 'What we want should go in there, what you want shouldn't,'” she argued. In a side note, Bloomberg noted that Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is vowing to bring back earmarks, with new transparency requirements, if she's chosen as the next House Appropriations chairwoman, according to a plan she released for the 117th Congress. She is up against Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn. and Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, among Democrats in the race to succeed retiring Chairwoman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. DeLauro and Kaptur both have more seniority but Wasserman Schultz has sought to garner support through specific proposals to change how the panel operates — including a July plan to create an advisory panel on inequity in federal spending. Under Wasserman Schultz's proposal, in addition to reviving earmarks, the full committee would “hold hearings outside of appropriations season,” in order to expand its overall level of work; start an advisory committee with members from key caucuses; hold freshman orientation and “Appropriations 101” workshops; reestablish the House Appropriations Select Intelligence Oversight Panel; and expand the chairwoman's member services team. Wasserman Shultz proposed making the earmark process more transparent than it was before it was banned by House Republicans in 2011. Those changes include prohibiting earmarked funds from going to for-profit businesses, posting earmarks publicly, creating an online database of earmarks, and calling for an annual earmark audit by the Government Accountability Office. So, we will see. Almost everything is toxic these days, and the fog of battle is unusually dense, observers say. However, the battles are increasingly important and should be watched closely by producers as the process intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 24, 2020 |


Reuters: USDA Making COVID Aid Payments To Tobacco Farmers From New Account USDA will be making payments to tobacco farmers under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) effort via a new account established under the office of the secretary, according to a report from Reuters. The payments of up to $100 million to tobacco farmers will not come from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) funding but from this new account established in the wake of how Congress divvied up money to USDA in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. A change in law in 2004 prevented CCC funds from being used to make payments to tobacco farmers, and USDA told the news service it is tracking the money. The CARES Act provided $9.5 billion in relief funding for agriculture, allocating those funds to the office of the agriculture secretary.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 24, 2020 |


Senators Call for Removal of Trade Program's Rice Tariff Barriers A group of U.S. senators are calling on the Trump administration to reform the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the largest and oldest trade preference program. The lawmakers want the reforms to level the playing field for American rice producers. GSP provides duty-free treatment to goods from developing countries to promote economic growth in those nations. In recent years, highly subsidized rice growing competitors have taken advantage of this program to increase rice exports to the U.S. at the expense of American producers, rice proponents note. In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer — authored by Sen, John Boozman, R-Ark., and others — the members shared their support for the USA Rice Federation's petition to remove all rice tariff lines from the list of commodities eligible for duty-free import under GSP.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 24, 2020 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday morning's 7:30 a.m. CDT reports include USDA's weekly export sales, weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Traders will watch for a possible export sale at 8 a.m., followed by a report on U.S. new home sales at 9 a.m. CDT and natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. The latest weather forecasts will also be checked and USDA's quarterly hogs and pigs report is out at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Showers and thunderstorms are in store for the northern Midwest and the Mid-South Thursday, causing harvest disruption. A few scattered showers will also be noted in the southern Plains and western Midwest. Dry conditions will be in effect elsewhere to favor row crop harvest and winter wheat planting.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 23, 2020 |


Biden Campaign Blames Trump for Ethanol Crisis During a virtual press conference Tuesday, the Joe Biden campaign utilized farmers blaming President Donald Trump for the ongoing ethanol industry crisis. The farmers noted how the administration has given oil companies dozens of waivers, reducing demand for ethanol and forcing the closure of refineries across the country. Jim Nichols, owner of a 500-acre corn and soybean farm in Minnesota, stated, “Corn farmers are in terrible shape due to President Trump’s betrayal,” adding, “we need change now.” Chris Gibbs, a farmer from West-central Ohio and president of the Rural America 2020 board of directors, stated, “Rather than supporting corn farmers and making E15 ‘America’s Fuel,’ Trump has consistently undercut this industry and hurt our farmers. Rural America 2020 is a nonprofit that advocates for policies that benefit agriculture and rural America, supporting Joe Biden for president. Last week, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency announced it would deny petitions for small refinery exemptions for past compliance years, the so-called “gap-filling” petitions for the 2011-18 compliance years. ************************************************************************************ Agreement Reached to Include CCC Funds in CR After days of partisan politics, a continuing resolution passed the House of Representatives Tuesday night including funds for the Commodity Credit Corporation. The White House and Congressional Republicans reached an agreement with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to include the funding, while prohibiting oil companies from accessing CCC funds. The Trump administration was exploring a plan to use up to $300 million of CCC funds for the oil industry, but dropped the proposal this week. In a statement, Pelosi says, “We have reached an agreement with Republicans on the CR to add nearly $8 billion in desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry schoolchildren and families. We also increase accountability in the Commodity Credit Corporation, preventing funds for farmers from being misused for a Big Oil bailout.” Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, previously critical of Democrats withholding the funds, stated, “Democrats have heard our call, and the calls from farm country, to not ignore rural America when funding the government.” The CR funds the government through December 11. ************************************************************************************ NCGA Exploring Short Term Demand Growth The National Corn Growers Association is actively working to rebuild demand by exploring new incremental opportunities for America’s corn farmers. In partnership with AimPoint Research and primary customer segments, NCGA is developing a short-term demand growth plan that sets the table for long-term success. NCGA President Kevin Ross says, “I don’t have to tell you, this year is unlike any other I’ve experienced in my career, which is why we have to think outside the box and deliver quick wins for corn farmers.” The process of evaluating potential market opportunities started with an intelligence briefing and level setting exercise. In the coming weeks, committees will do a deep dive to develop potential solution sets with analysis for each potential market for corn. By December, a full marketing plan by segment will be unveiled. The primary areas of growth potential are ethanol usage domestically and internationally, expanded export markets for corn and co-products, and industrial segments such as biobased plastics. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol Launches Nationwide Grower Recruitment Campaign American cotton growers now can join the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, a new standard for verifying the sustainability progress of U.S. cotton. As consumers continue to demand eco-friendly products, enrolling in the Trust Protocol will help growers ensure markets for their cotton by verifiably demonstrating the sustainability record of American cotton in the global market. Protocol President Gary Adams says, “growers will now be able to better document their current sustainability programs using a quantifiable, digital platform and that data is assessed and verified by a third-party audit.” The Protocol helps U.S. growers document and showcase their land management and environmental stewardship practices while helping them achieve continuous improvement related to environmental sustainability measurements. Each participating grower commits to documenting and tracking their progress toward improving soil carbon health while seeking year over year reductions in soil erosion, overall land use, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. By 2025, the Trust Protocol seeks to have more than 50 percent of all U.S. cotton registered as Trust Protocol Cotton. ************************************************************************************ Army Corps Repairing Missouri River Navigation Channel Multiple issues along the Lower Missouri River's navigation channel are under repair by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps’ Kansas City District is addressing priority areas of concern and the damages to river structures that have accumulated during nearly three years of high water. An extended period of high water on the Lower Missouri River, including devastating flooding in 2019, damaged 50-75 percent of the 7,000 river training structures that make up the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project. The damage caused navigation restrictions as the river returned to normal levels this summer. A District official says USACE is addressing the restrictions and restoring the channel to its nine-foot depth. However, officials say there is insufficient funding to repair all the structures damaged by the 2019 flood. Lack of funding is impacting the ability to make the repairs, and officials say time will be necessary for the structures to fully scour the channel to return it to its authorized nine-foot by 300-foot condition. ************************************************************************************ U.N. Launches Green Cities Initiative to End Hunger A plan by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization seeks to transform agri-food systems, end hunger and improve nutrition in and around cities in a post-COVID-19 era. The Green Cities Initiative and Action Plan announced this week aims to improve the livelihoods and well-being of populations in at least 100 cities around the world in the next three years, looking to have 1,000 cities join by 2030. In particular, the initiative is focused on improving the urban environment, strengthening urban-rural linkages and the resilience of urban systems, services and populations to external shocks. Ensuring access to a healthy environment and healthy diets from sustainable food systems, it will also contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation and sustainable resource management. The new initiative also includes the creation of a "Green Cities Network", where cities of all sizes - from large to medium to small - will exchange experiences on best practices, successes and lessons, as well as build city-to-city cooperation opportunities.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 23, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Fed Increases Push For Coronavirus Relief The Hill is reporting that Fed chair Jerome Powell will offer testimony this week in what will likely be his last chance to try to push Congress toward another coronavirus relief bill before Election Day. Bloomberg also is reporting that Powell said the U.S. economy “has a long way to go before fully recovering from the coronavirus pandemic and will need further support. The path forward will depend on keeping the virus under control and on policy actions taken at all levels of government.” He appeared before the House Financial Services Committee yesterday. While a recovery is underway, “both employment and overall economic activity, however, remain well below their pre-pandemic levels, and the path ahead continues to be highly uncertain,” he said. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin also appeared, Bloomberg said and that he and the White House “continue to seek an agreement with both parties in Congress” on another fiscal relief package. The Secretary said that “the President and I remain committed to providing support for American workers and businesses,” he said in a release. “I believe a targeted package is still needed, and the administration is ready to reach a bipartisan agreement.” The hearing with key officials is a quarterly exercise mandated by the Cares Act passed by Congress in March which appropriated about $2 trillion to help speed the U.S. recovery. The pair faced questions about their use of the Act's funds and about what else should still be done. However, Bloomberg also noted that prospects for another round of fiscal support have dimmed somewhat amid spiraling partisan tension over the battle to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, with just 42 days remaining before the U.S. election. As expected, Powell and Mnuchin fielded numerous questions about the troubled Main Street Lending Program, a $600 billion Fed facility backed by Treasury funds aimed at providing credit to small-and mid-sized companies, Bloomberg said. It has so far only purchased $1.5 billion in loans. The two officials diverged on the advisability of lowering the minimum loan size for the program with Mnuchin embracing that potential while Powell said smaller loans would require a brand new approach and would be more appropriately managed through the Paycheck Protection Program, which extended forgivable loans to small firms. On the question of whether the Main Street program was taking enough risk, the Treasury chief said he expected the Main Street backstop would take some losses. He didn't speak to reports that the Treasury had advised banks to target zero losses on the loans. Mnuchin also made clear he's eager to reallocate funds initially appropriated under the Cares Act to act as a buffer for Main Street and other emergency lending programs that may no longer be needed. “We would like to spend that money on other areas of the economy that could be better served,” Mnuchin said. “Unfortunately, we do need Congressional authority to use it in other areas.” He also wrote that investors should “prepare for the likelihood Congress won't have the time or the will to pass more fiscal stimulus before the end of the year — and for an even more contested election in the wake of the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The Fed's Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Robert Kaplan, who dissented at last week's policy meeting, told The Hill that he doesn't want to commit the U.S. central bank to too much monetary stimulus once the economy has recovered from the coronavirus pandemic. Separately, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said that the U.S. economy has enough momentum to continue its recovery from the coronavirus slump even if Congress fails to pass additional taxpayer support. “I don't think there is as much of an imperative about a new fiscal package as there might have been” in July or August, Bullard said. “It seems like, at least in some broad macroeconomic type of calculation, we have enough resources to cover this.” In addition, there is criticism of the Fed's Main Street Lending Program. Bharat Ramamurti, a member of the congressional oversight commission for the coronavirus response, has called the Main Street Lending Program “a failure,” citing the reported reluctance of banks to furnish loans to struggling companies eligible for the facility. And Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., a member of that commission and the Senate Banking Committee, where Powell will appear Thursday, has called on the Fed to close down programs for purchasing corporate bonds amid a rapid recovery in financial markets. So, we will see. In spite of the widening view that the crisis has passed efforts to move the Congress to offer additional assistance can be expected to continue and possibly to intensify — fights producers should watch closely as they emerge Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 23, 2020 |


EPA Still Shows Pending Gap-Year SRE Requests, Slight Uptick For 2019, 2020 The level of small refinery exemptions (SREs) still shown as being pending at EPA has declined dramatically, with the agency data now showing 17 remain pending for the 2011-2018 compliance years as of September 17. There are two each pending for the 2011, 2012 and 2018 compliance years, three each for 2013 and 2015, four for 2014 and one for the 2016 compliance year. The big reduction is due to EPA announcing they would deny the requests that they had received recommendations from the Department of Energy on. But that did not cover all of the pending gap-year requests. As for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years, EPA data now shows 33 SREs pending for the two years combined, an increase from August data showing there were 31 SREs pending for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 23, 2020 |


Small Refiner Exemptions from RFS Requirements Remains in the News USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue in Illinois Monday said that there are “no plans” to use the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to make payments to refiners that are denied small refiner exemptions (SREs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). “We don't think that qualifies under Charter 5 of the Commodity Credit Corporation Act, and we've informed them of that,” Perdue remarked. “So we'll have to see what happens.” Perdue said President Trump is trying to be fair to both sides on the issue of small refinery exemptions. “He thinks that denying those waivers and complying with the RINs (Renewable Identification Numbers), and that, has hurt some of the small, independents (refiners). That may be the case, but if they need to get that, then they need to find another way to do that.” Meanwhile, Reuters reported, citing two sources, that the Trump administration has dropped a plan to use CCC authority to make payments to refiners denied SRE requests. The administration had been considering paying some $300 million to refiners and tap the CCC authority to do so. But after outcry from Midwest lawmakers and even from refiners, the administration has shelved the plan, according to the report. Late Tuesday, the House of Representatives also passed a short-term funding bill for the federal government that would prevent CCC funds from being used for oil refiners.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 23, 2020 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets On Wednesday morning we will get a manufacturing Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) report. At 10:30 a.m., Fed Chairman Jerome Powell will speak on the coronavirus. We will of course be watching for new sales of corn and soybeans to China at 8:30 a.m. central, and we'll watch weather in both the Black Sea and South America. Weather Moderate to locally heavy rain from former Tropical Storm Beta is in store for the Delta Wednesday. The rain will disrupt harvest and may damage open-boll cotton. A few showers will also form in the far northern Plains. Dry and warm conditions elsewhere will allow for continued row crop harvest and winter wheat planting.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 22, 2020 |


CFAP2 Signup Period Underway The signup period for CFAP2, the additional Coronavirus Food Assistance Program relief, is underway. The signup period opened Monday and extends through December 11. Producers interested in signing up can do so at Farm Service Agency county offices. A Market Intel analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation details the CFAP2 provisions, which provides nearly $14 billion in relief to farmers and ranchers suffering losses or increased cost after April 15, stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. Of the $14 billion in CFAP2 support, USDA's cost-benefit analysis estimates corn producers will receive $3.5 billion, or 25 percent of the total CFAP2 resources. Following corn, beef cattle producers are expected to receive $2.8 billion, or 20 percent of CFAP2 funding. Dairy farmers are expected to receive $2 billion, or 14 percent of the available support. Hog producers are estimated to receive $1.7 billion or 12 percent of CFAP2. Soybean producers are estimated to receive $1.4 billion, or ten percent of the funds. Wheat, flat-rate crops, eggs and other commodities are expected to receive $2.5 billion, or 18 percent. ************************************************************************************ Peterson Weighs in on Second CFAP Program from USDA House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson of Minnesota overall approves the second Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, but says more sectors need help. Peterson responded to the Department of Agriculture’s CFAP2 announcement stating, “There are some good things in this second CFAP plan,” but adds, “I still want to see help for the ethanol industry that has been hurt by the drop in fuel demand." Peterson also wants the program to include textile mills that are helping to create COVID-19 medical supplies and more support for pork and poultry producers that had to depopulate due to plant closures and support for contract growers who have faced a loss of income. Of note, Peterson welcomed actions in the CFAP2, including simplifying the application process for specialty crop growers and making sure livestock producers, like turkey growers have what they need. Peterson also applauded expansion of the program to all classes of wheat, a request by industry groups. ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends WIC COVID-19 Flexibilities The Department of Agriculture Monday announced the extension of more than a dozen nutrition program flexibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The extension ensures participants in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, continue receiving the food and health support during the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA is providing the extension of the waivers throughout the national public health emergency. USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has made maximum use of existing program flexibilities and the waiver authority provided by Congress to make it as easy as possible for children and families to participate in WIC, and all of the department’s nutrition assistance programs, during the COVID-19 health emergency. The WIC waivers being extended allow for participants to be approved for WIC without being physically present in a local office, remote issuance of benefits to any participant, flexibility in food package requirements, including dairy, grains, vegetables, and infant foods; and additional options for pick-up of food packages. ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks Comments on Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Rainfall Index Insurance Program The Department of Agriculture seeks public comments on recommended improvements to the Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Rainfall Index Crop Insurance Program by November 5, 2020. USDA’s Risk Management Agency contracted for an independent evaluation of the program to determine its effectiveness as a risk management tool for livestock producers. RMA Administrator Martin Barbre says, “We want to be sure that the recommendations RMA implements are good for the industry and good for livestock producers.” In addition to the PRF program, the recommendations could be applied to other Rainfall Index programs such as beekeeping and Annual Forage. RMA will review all comments and determine what recommendations should be implemented for the 2022 crop year. The independent evaluation includes several recommendations, including adjusting the County Base Value productivity range, better targeting of indemnities, and focusing on viable forage production areas. Other recommendations include focusing on coverage on risk-reducing intervals and taking an alternative approach to reducing frequent shallow losses. ************************************************************************************ USDA Partners with Midwest Community Colleges to Teach Agricultural Conservation The Department of Agriculture is partnering with nine Midwest community colleges to support hands-on student learning about conservation and to foster conservation-minded farmers and ranchers. On Monday, Community College Alliance for Agriculture Advancement representatives and USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service signed a memorandum of understanding. Through the memo, they agree to enhance and accelerate training and adoption of technologies and best practices for improved agricultural productivity and natural resources stewardship. The agreement aims to reach not only agriculture students but also the broader community, through events such as field days. NRCS and the member institutions are developing local plans to address regional and statewide challenges and to support student internships and other training opportunities. All member institutions have college farms where they can implement conservation practices to educate and inform students and producers. Community colleges in the program include institutions in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and Ohio. More information about the partnership is available at nrcs.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ Walmart Sets Goal of Becoming Regenerative Company Walmart just announced the company is doubling down on addressing the growing climate crisis by targeting zero emissions across the company's global operations by 2040. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are also committing to help protect, manage, or restore at least 50 million acres of land and one million square miles of ocean by 2030 to help combat the cascading loss of nature threatening the planet. Walmart CEO Doug McMillon says, "The commitments we're making today not only aim to decarbonize Walmart's global operations, they also put us on the path to becoming a regenerative company." Walmart seeks to harvest enough wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources to power its facilities with 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. The company also seeks electrifying and zeroing out emissions from all of its vehicles, including long-haul trucks, by 2040. Additionally, Walmart plans to transition to low-impact refrigerants for cooling and electrified equipment for heating in its stores, clubs, and data and distribution centers by 2040.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 22, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Tensions With China Intensify China's war rhetoric is pushing Taiwan to boost its U.S. economic ties. A Bloomberg report reflects the emergence of Taiwan once again as the center of dangerous military tensions. Bloomberg says it is “hard to find a world leader who's had a better 2020 than Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen” on the basis of her recent landslide re-election win and her management of “one of the world's best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.” She is also credited with overseeing an economic recovery that has boosted Taiwan's stock exchange to record heights. The central bank last week revised its 2020 growth target up to 1.6%, making it an outlier among global peers as most major economies shrink. Still, she has a major problem: The Communist Party is threatening her life, with its Global Times newspaper saying over the weekend she would be “wiped out” in a war if she violated China's anti-secession law. The warning in a tweet Saturday described her dinner with Keith Krach, the most senior U.S. State Department official to visit Taiwan since 1979, as “playing with fire.” People's Liberation Army aircraft last week repeatedly breached the median line between Taiwan and China and the PLA Air Force released a video showing H-6 bombers making a simulated strike on what looked like a U.S. military base on the nearby island of Guam. Bloomberg notes that while China's military dwarfs that of Taiwan, an amphibious invasion across the 100-mile-wide strait separating the two “could easily backfire on the world's number-two economy.” Not only do “many observers” think the U.S. would come to Taiwan's aid if China were to launch an attack but Tsai's government is actively taking steps to increase economic ties between the unofficial allies to provide more incentives for American policy makers to intervene. “If we lessen our economic reliance on China, it won't be able to politically blackmail us,” Kolas Yotaka, presidential office spokeswoman, told Bloomberg. “By establishing closer economic ties with other countries, we'll be able to uphold regional peace through shared prosperity.” Right now, he said, the economic relationship is heavily tilted toward Beijing. Exports to China accounted for 42.3% of Taiwan's total in the first half of this year with only 1.5% going to the U.S. during the same period. Taiwanese investment in China in the first eight months of this year was up 50% year on year, totaling $3.9 billion, according to Taiwan's economic ministry. Tsai's government, however, has sought to reverse those trends in particular by encouraging companies to bring their tech supply chains out of China to Taiwan and places like Southeast Asia. In late August, she also lifted a ban on certain U.S. pork and beef products—the major obstacle to a trade agreement with the U.S.. “We must accelerate our linkage to economies around the world, in particular strengthening our ties with our most steadfast partner,” Tsai said at the time. Through July, American government data show Taiwan as its ninth-largest trade partner, up from eleventh last year. The Krach visit marked another milestone in that effort. Tsai hosted a dinner Friday night for him that also included Morris Chang, founder of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the main chipmaker for Apple Inc. The presence of Chang, whose company recently announced it would build a $12 billion facility in Arizona, highlighted the importance of Taiwan's cutting-edge semiconductor industry, which the U.S. is looking to wall off from Chinese companies such as Huawei Technologies Co. On Sunday, Taiwan's economic minister, Wang Mei-hua, announced she had met with Krach's delegation for talks to prepare for a formal economic dialogue. Any serious discussions would be helmed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who negotiated the phase-one deal with China signed earlier this year, Bloomberg said. While it's unclear if Taiwan is on the USTR's list of priorities, any agreement would go a long way toward bringing Taiwan out of its diplomatic isolation, according to Tiffany Ma, senior director at Bower Group Asia. A bilateral trade agreement “would further benefit Taiwan's security by giving momentum — and political cover — for other countries to pursue similar arrangements with Taiwan,” she said. The U.S. formally cut ties with Taiwan's government in 1979 in order to establish relations with Beijing. Four decades later, however, U.S. ties with China are getting worse by the day while trade and official exchanges with Taiwan are on the rise. Despite the military saber-rattling over the weekend, China doesn't appear ready to give up on economic engagement with Taiwan. Wang Yang, the Communist Party's No. 4 official, on Saturday pledged to “further improve policy measures and arrangements” that benefit Taiwanese people. “We need to have a longer-term vision,” said Liu Guoshen, director of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, which sits across the strait. Even so, China's recent military maneuvers near Taiwan signal that it is watching carefully and possibly willing to escalate. Not only has the Communist Party never ruled Taiwan but polls show the vast majority of Taiwanese citizens don't want it to. Now, President Xi Jinping has vowed to take it by force if necessary. “Beijing fears a slippery slope,” said Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “It worries that the U.S. has abandoned its one-China policy and won't respect China's red lines.” So, we will see. These are extremely uncertain times for the U.S. and for much of the globe — trends producers should watch closely as the debates and fights intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 22, 2020 |


Commerce Rescinds Review of Antidumping Duties On Indonesian Biodiesel The Commerce Department is rescinding its administrative review of antidumping duties on Indonesian biodiesel for the period of review April 1, 2019-March 31, 2020 at the request of the National Biodiesel Fair Trade Coalition. The Commerce Department had received a petition from the group for an administrative review on five Indonesian biodiesel producers and/or exporters, but on September 1, the group withdrew its request

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 22, 2020 |


CFAP 2 Signup Starts With USDA Funding in Limbo Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) started Monday and runs through December 11. USDA expects that when payment limits are taken into account, payouts under the $14 billion program should total $13.2 billion. USDA is expected to release a payment calculator soon that would help producers figure their benefits under the program. But the program enrollment began as Congress continues to work on a continuing resolution (CR) that would fund the government through December 11. Included in an agreement reached between Republicans and Democrats in the House Friday was a replenishment of the borrowing authority for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). In exchange for supporting the CCC replenishment, there was agreement to continue a nutrition program created during the pandemic to provide school lunches to children. However, as of Monday, the CCC and school lunch provisions were stricken from the bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 22, 2020 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday is the first official day of autumn, but grain prices may be in no mood to celebrate after Monday's broad-based selling. A report on U.S. existing home sales is due out at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by USDA's monthly cold storage report at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather forecasts for the U.S. and South America will be looked at as will any trade news that develops. Weather Central crop areas will be dry Tuesday, offering favorable conditions for row crop harvest and winter wheat planting. Tropical Storm Beta will bring moderate to heavy rain into portions of the Delta, southeastern Oklahoma and eastern Texas.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 21, 2020 |


USDA Announced Second Round of CFAP Details President Trump and Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue announced an additional $14 billion in aid for agricultural producers who continue to face market disruption and costs associated with COVID-19. The producer signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) at the USDA Farm Service Agency’s county offices starts on September 21 and runs through December 11. In a news release, the Ag Secretary says, “America’s agriculture communities are resilient, but still face many challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” Perdue notes that the agency “listened to feedback” from farmers, ranchers, and agricultural organizations about the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s farms and ranches, and they developed a program to better meet the needs of those impacted. USDA will use the funds being made available from the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to support row crops, livestock, specialty crops, dairy, aquaculture, and many additional commodities. The Hagstrom Report says Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee Chair John Hoeven of North Dakota said he’d talked about the program this week with Perdue and Budget Director Russ Vought, who had to approve the assistance. “Our producers don’t quit,” Hoeven says, “and Congress must match their resolve with measures to help them through a difficult time.” *****************************************t***************************************************** Agriculture Groups React to CFAP 2 Ag groups reacted positively to the USDA’s announcement that additional support is coming for farmers and ranchers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association VP of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, “We’re pleased to see that USDA is using unspent funds in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program to provide further relief to cattle producers during COVID-19. Many producers are still reeling from disruptions brought on by the pandemic.” Assistance during the first round of CFAP only covered losses through April 15. “We don’t know when the pandemic will end and are still feeling the effects of trade imbalances and severe weather,” says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “This lifeline will keep farmers and ranchers afloat as they continue to keep American pantries stocked with food.” National Farmers Union is grateful for the assistance but is concerned about the distribution method. “The first round of funding was greatly appreciated, but not without its flaws,” says NFU President Rob Larew. “Not only did it favor large farmers over smaller ones, but it also sent millions of dollars to foreign-owned operations while excluding some farmers entirely.” The NFU is asking USDA to rectify those issues and make sure payments go to those who need it most. ********************************************************************************************** EPA Finalizes Interim Rules on Atrazine Use by Farmers Atrazine is a widely used herbicide that farmers can apply before and after planting to control broadleaf and grassy weeds. It’s used primarily on corn, sorghum, and sugarcane, and to a lesser extent on residential lawns and golf courses. The Environmental Protection Agency released the Interim Registration Review Decision for atrazine, as well as propazine and simazine. With the rule, EPA finalized mitigation measures to protect human health, mitigate potential ecological risks, and provided farmers with the valuable tools they rely on to control weeds in their crops. “Today’s decision is another example of the administration taking action to support America’s farmers, one of the strongest allies in our mission to protect public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler during a roundtable discussion in Missouri on Friday. “The benefits of atrazine in agriculture are high, so these new protections give our nation’s farmers more clarity and certainty concerning proper use.” EPA did a thorough review of the best available science and carefully considered scientific peer review and public comments to determine which mitigation measures are warranted for the three herbicides to properly address human health and ecological risk. ********************************************************************************************** USDA’S Censky Returning to ASA After serving as the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Agriculture since 2017, the man who led the American Soybean Association for 21 years is returning to familiar territory. Stephen Censky is leaving USDA to return to the helm of the grower group as Chief Executive Officer. Censky will officially join ASA on November 9 and resumes his post after the departure of Ryan Findlay, who’s credited with helping the organization restructure internally and establish an independent government affairs office in Washington, D.C. Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says, “There is no doubt that I personally, as well as the whole USDA family, will miss Steve’s experience, preparedness, and steady leadership. During his tenure, we accomplished a great deal in a short time, even in the face of serious challenges in American agriculture.” He adds that Censky’s roots are in agriculture and he’s one of the best and most professional public servants America has. Censky says, “It’s a privilege to return to ASA and represent our nation’s soybean growers. ASA is in many ways home, and I’m excited about working with both new and familiar faces in St. Louis and D.C. and building on the great changes made since I was last there.” ********************************************************************************************** Negative Reaction to Trump’s Refinery Bailout Plan Lawmakers from both sides of the political fence spoke out against the idea of using USDA funds to bail out refiners that are denied exemptions from the nation’s biofuel blending laws. Reuters issued a report saying the administration is considering up to $300 million in financial relief to refiners who are denied waivers from the Renewable Fuels Standard, which requires them to blend biofuels into their fuel or to purchase credits for the 2019 compliance year. Five anonymous sources said the funds could come from within the USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation. The idea isn’t sitting well with lawmakers because those funds are supposed to assist farmers and not the oil industry. Ranking Senate Ag Committee member Debbie Stabenow called the idea “outrageous” during comments on the Senate floor. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who sits on the other side of the political fence from Stabenow, says the USDA funds were meant for struggling farmers. “It’s not a surprise that Big Oil is looking elsewhere for government handouts,” a Grassley spokesman says. Refinery groups say the administration should instead focus on making the cost of the Renewable Fuels Standard less burdensome on refiners. ********************************************************************************************** Grassley, Ernst Ask for Additional USDA Support for Iowa Farmers Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both members of the Senate Agriculture Committee, are asking the USDA to take action to provide Iowa farmers with additional support and relief. Iowa farmers are continuing to rebuild their livelihoods after a derecho storm system and drought impacted different parts of the state. Grassley and Ernst are asking Secretary Perdue to provide further assistance to farmers and producers in the aftermath of the derecho, including a deadline extension for crop insurance premium due dates. They’re also asking for a streamlined application process to replace grain bins damaged from the storm and ensuring future USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments are issued for base acres, not harvested acres. While visiting Iowa, Secretary Perdue announced his approval of Governor Kim Reynolds’ request for a Secretarial Disaster Designation for 18 counties impacted by the storm, which allowed producers to access USDA disaster programs and Farm Service Agency loans. The senators also sent a letter asking the Secretary of Commerce to lift Section 232 tariffs on steel that add millions to the costs for Iowa’s recovery, especially for farmers needing to replace machine sheds and grain bins.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 21, 2020 |


Washington Insider: Regarding the US-China Trade War While much of the debate in Washington has quickly turned to the Supreme Court and efforts to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Bloomberg has raised a different concern — it says that after four years of “relentless” effort by the President to push back against China, questions remain about that policy's effectiveness. It calls efforts to ban new downloads of WeChat — China's ubiquitous messaging and payments app — and the wildly popular video-sharing app TikTok — as merely diversions. The report goes further — it says that “the final scorecard is already in: On just about every metric that matters, China is ahead.” The article lists several details. It considers the trade balance and notes that the president “seems to regard that as “the most important measure of success” in its effort to get China to play by global trading rules. It says that metric “has grown almost 25% since the start of the administration's tariff war and cites Jim McCormick of NatWest Markets. Also, China is nowhere near on track to meet its target of increasing imports from the U.S. under the current partial deal the signal accomplishment of the administration's “tariff tit-for-tat.” Bloomberg then considers China's powerfully resurgent GDP, the result of its vastly more effective response to the pandemic that began there. China, McCormick notes, is the only country among 48 to have reported a second-quarter GDP number that was higher than at the end of 2019. In the U.S., the worst country when it comes to the coronavirus (as measured by death and infections), the economy shrank 9.5% in the second quarter, a drop that equals an annualized pace of 32.9% — its sharpest downturn since at least the 1940s, Bloomberg says. And now the Chinese currency is surging, the report says. It climbed for the eighth week in a row, its longest run of gains since February 2018. Global bond funds are pouring into the country — ones that still offers yields. Meanwhile, the dollar is slumping. Behind these headline numbers Bloomberg also sees “deeper industrial trends, which again work in China's favor, helping it pick up global market share in the aftermath of COVID-19 lockdowns.” Increasingly, China is supplying the kind of sophisticated machinery that German manufacturers once dominated, like high-end tunnel borers and hydraulic valves and pumps used in wind turbines. “It's only a matter of time until Chinese firms are No. 1,” Ulrich Ackermann, managing director for foreign trade at Germany's VDMA Mechanical Engineering Industry Association told Bloomberg. So, Bloomberg asserts that the administration's assaults on WeChat and TikTok are “distractions” and argues that there are “better ways to mitigate the national security risk Chinese companies may pose” by gaining access to U.S. personal data. In any case, lashing out at Chinese tech companies will only slow, not derail, Beijing's efforts to dominate the 21st century economy, the report says. As an example, it describes the race to develop batteries, a key to the future of transport, defense and other industries. By 2025, China will have battery facilities with maximum production capacity of about 1.1 terawatt-hours' worth of cells annually, almost double the rest of the world combined. The White House response? So far, only inertia, Cathy Zoi, chief executive officer of charging-network operator EVgo who was an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Energy under President Barack Obama, says. The report argues that the “net result” of administration efforts to decouple the U.S. and Chinese economies is to push China even further toward self-sufficiency, a strategy set to be enshrined in China's new five-year plan at a meeting of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee next month. This new economic direction is described by the official phrase “dual circulation,” an ambiguous reference to the outward and inward drivers of the Chinese economy. The report argues that China “looks set to make a drive to reduce dependence on imports, particularly of high-end manufacturing equipment and inputs,” writes economist Alicia Garcia-Herrero. “Dual circulation,” she said, is import-substitution by another name. The report also argues that the Democratic political contender's ideas, no less than the administration's, would grapple with a China set on global domination of 21st century industries by deploying old-fashioned mercantilism, among other retrograde trade policies. It asks, “how could it do better?” Robert Zoellick, the former U.S. trade representative and World Bank head has this advice for the former U.S. vice president, should he win in November: “Foreign policy should start at home,” focusing on domestic issues like public health, immigration and inclusive economic growth will both signal U.S. leadership and appeal to allies, Zoellick wrote in Foreign Affairs. He sees that as a “new base of cooperation,” and thinks that “the U.S. and its partners will be better positioned to address two overarching challenges: the future of free societies and competition with China.” So, we will see. While there are wide disagreements regarding many of the current indicators, certainly the continuing competition with China will be fierce and likely will persist. How well Bloomberg has captured the current “state of play” as well as the future prospects remains to be seen, but certainly should be watched closely by producers as these trends intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 21, 2020 |


USDA Approves Contracts Under Third Round Of Food Box Effort USDA approved another $1 billion in food box contracts for a third round of deliveries through the end of October. The department says it has taken steps to fix shortfalls in the relief program that drew criticism from lawmakers and some food banks in recent months. The third round of contracts are under the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA said the combination boxes of fresh produce, dairy products, fluid milk and meat products “will be distributed to every county in America.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 21, 2020 |


NPPC Focusing On Next Farmer Aid, Help For Euthanized Livestock The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is focusing on the coming second round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) help (see previous item) and are urging Congress to provide USDA the authority to use the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to provide financial help to livestock producers have had to euthanize livestock due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The group wants no limits on the CFAP 2 effort, but USDA will still impose pay caps on the funds. The group also wants more funding to boost the number of U.S. inspectors at U.S. borders, citing the appearance of African swine fever (ASF) in Germany as a key reason more inspectors are needed as they are the “first line of defense,” officials with the group told reporters in a call Thursday. The group is working to try and get the inspector funding in the coming continuing resolution to keep the government funded past September 30, but officials were uncertain whether such funding could be added to the plan.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 21, 2020 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from another weekend, traders will brush up on the latest weather forecasts for the U.S. and South America and watch for any new export sales. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Row crop harvest progress and winter wheat planting progress will be the report's highlights at 3 p.m. Weather Dry conditions will dominate the primary crop areas Monday, offering favorable harvest and winter wheat planting conditions. Rain will focus on the lower Delta and Gulf Coastal Bend due to Tropical Storm Beta with flooding and storm surge threat. The Australia 30-day Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) value remains in weak La Nina category at positive 9.01.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 18, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 17, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 16, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 15, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 14, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 11, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 10, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 9, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 8, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 4, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 3, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 2, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 1, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 31, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 28, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 27, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 26, 2020 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 25, 2020 |


Rural Mainstreet Index Inches Up in August; Still Negative The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index increased slightly in August from July’s weak index number. A monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region that depends on agriculture and energy shows the August index is the sixth-straight month of a number below growth-neutral. The August index showed a slight increase at 44.7, up from July’s 44.1. However, that number is still in a recessionary economic zone. It was still a significant increase from the record-low in April of 12.1. The index ranges from 0 to 100, with an index of 50 representing growth neutral. “Farm commodity prices are down by 10.4 percent over the past 12 months,” says Dr. Ernie Goss, who oversees the Rural Mainstreet Index. “Despite the input of $32 billion in USDA farm support payments this year, only eight percent of bankers reported their area economy had improved compared to July, while 18 percent say economic conditions have gotten worse.” Along those same lines, the farmland price index rose above growth neutral for only the second time in the last 81 months, with the August reading at 50.1, up from July’s 45.6. The August farm equipment-sales index dropped to 32.8 from 34.4 in July. ********************************************************************************************** Peterson Wants Clarification on CFAP Payment Methodology Late last week, House Ag Committee Chair Collin Peterson sent a letter to Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. He’s asking for clarification on how USDA determined the eligibility of different crops, livestock, and poultry species under CFAP. In the letter, Peterson contends that the data used by USDA to calculate CFAP payments was limited to only the earliest parts of the pandemic, missing the full extent of damage to specific commodities. “Some would argue that the full agricultural market impacts of the closure of schools, restaurants, catering, and agricultural processing facilities due to COVID-19 were not fully realized during the CFAP covered period, with losses for many commodities extending well into the second and third quarters of this year,” writes Peterson. The ag chair also took issue with the reasons that certain commodities were denied payments. “Hundreds of commodities were denied eligibility for ‘insufficient data’ and ‘lack of information,’ though it would seem that the well-documented shutdown of school meals, restaurants, and foodservice demand would have impacted those food crops, and the loss of export, landscape, and retail markets for no-food crops and livestock/poultry,” he adds. “I trust USDA is working to assist producers who’ve been denied to this point.” ********************************************************************************************** Lighthizer Promises Help for Southeast Tomato Growers U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer promises tomato growers in the southeast United States that he will address their concerns about imported Mexican tomatoes. Trade Vistas Dot Com says American producers are upset about the surging numbers of Mexican tomato imports under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade. The United States is the second-largest producer of tomatoes in the world, but with each American eating an average of more than 20 pounds of tomatoes every year, imports are necessary to satisfy the high demand. Mexico is the largest exporter in the world and the top international supplier to the U.S. Fresh produce growers in the Southeast U.S. say Mexico is continuing to undercut their prices, dumping cheap fruits and vegetables into the U.S. market during their peak harvest time. The USDA and the Department of Commerce recently held two hearings to collect feedback on whether trade policies are harming America’s seasonal produce growers. Following those hearings, Lighthizer says he is working with Ag Secretary Perdue and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to come up with a plan to address grower concerns by September 1. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Programs Ready to Assist Those Impacted by Tropical Storms Marco and Laura The USDA is reminding communities, farmers and ranchers, families, and small businesses in the