03-30-20 U.S. EPA Honors 2020 ENERGY STAR® Partners of the Year in South Dakota and Colorado

U.S. EPA Honors 2020 ENERGY STAR® Partners of the Year in South Dakota and Colorado
DENVER, CO – March 30, 2020 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 and the U.S. Department of Energy are honoring three ENERGY STAR partners for their outstanding contributions to public health and the environment. These enterprises have earned ENERGY STAR Awards for demonstrating national leadership in cost-saving energy efficient solutions. They are among the 192 ENERGY STAR Award Winners nationwide honored this year as ENERGY STAR Partners of the Year.
“I salute the 2020 ENERGY STAR award winners,” said Anne Idsal, EPA Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation. “These leaders demonstrate how energy efficiency drives economic competitiveness in tandem with environmental protection.”
Since 1992, ENERGY STAR and its thousands of partners helped American families and businesses save more than 4 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity and achieve over 3.5 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas reductions. In 2018 alone, ENERGY STAR and its partners helped Americans avoid nearly $35 billion in energy costs.

Examples of how Region 8 ENERGY STAR Award Winners have demonstrated leadership:

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03-30-20 CDPHE News: State health department provides update on statewide COVID-19 testing strategy

CDPHE: State health department provides update on statewide COVID-19 testing strategy *CORRECTED*

***INFORMACIÓN SEGUIDA EN ESPAÑOL***

State health department provides update on statewide COVID-19 testing strategy

DENVER, March 30, 2020: Testing for COVID-19 continues to be a top priority for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The Colorado Unified Coordination Group (UCG)  is currently supporting strategic, targeted community testing for health care workers and first responders, and are working to increase the state’s testing capabilities.

There are two primary routes to testing in Colorado today: Continue reading

03-30-20 Weekly USMEF Audio Report: For U.S. Red Meat, Positive Signs Emerging in Key Asian Markets

Weekly USMEF Audio Report: For U.S. Red Meat, Positive Signs Emerging in Key Asian Markets

CLICK HERE to learn more about the USMEF

DENVER, CO – March 30, 2020 – Since January, the coronavirus pandemic has created significant challenges for the food industry in Asia, with in-restaurant dining suspended in some countries for several weeks. But demand for pork and beef has proven resilient at the retail level, with supermarket sales remaining very strong and consumers greatly increasing their use of e-commerce platforms and delivery services. While the restaurant sector still faces a long recovery, U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom says it is showing strong signs of improvement, with more workers returning to a normal routine and restaurant traffic beginning to rebound. Halstrom adds that the impact of African swine fever (ASF) is still being felt across the globe, heightening the need for high-quality protein. He notes that with the U.S. red meat industry in a period of record-large production, it is especially well-positioned to fill this need.

Halstrom COVID-19 Update 3-30-20

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03-30-20 CO Farm Bureau: Ag is Open for Biz, but it’s Not Biz as Usual

CO Farm Bureau: Ag is Open for Biz, but it’s Not Biz as Usual

CENTENNIAL, Colo.—March 30, 2019While agriculture and related industries are considered “critical” and will not be shut down during the Governor’s ‘stay at home’ order, it’s important to remember that it’s not just another day on the farm or ranch. Agriculture is open for business but farmers, ranchers, employees and families are not immune. COVID-19 is affecting us all, and everyone must do their best to prevent it’s spread, particularly in work places that are continuing to operate during this time. Continue reading

03-30-20 NPPC Cancels 2020 World Pork Expo


NPPC Cancels 2020 World Pork Expo

Next Year’s WPX Set for June 9-11, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 30, 2020 –The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) today announced that its board of directors has decided to cancel the 2020 World Pork Expo in June due to COVID-19 human health concerns. World Pork Expo 2021 is scheduled for June 9-11 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

“While deeply disappointed to cancel this year’s Expo, NPPC’s board of directors unanimously agreed it was prudent to make this decision now,” said NPPC President Howard “A.V.” Roth, a pork producer from Wauzeka, Wisconsin. “By eliminating COVID 19-related uncertainty surrounding the event, we allow producers and others across the industry to focus on the essential role we play in the nation’s food supply system at this critical time.”

“We will do our part to support the nation’s transition back to normalcy and look forward to making next year’s World Pork Expo better than ever,” added Roth.

World Pork Expo is the world’s largest pork-specific trade show, where more than 20,000 industry professionals gather for three days to showcase innovations, introduce new products and participate in training and educational programs.

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03-30-20 Sorghum Checkoff Board Launches Sustainability Initiative, Hires Everhart-Valentin as Sustainability Director

Sorghum Checkoff Board Launches Sustainability Initiative, Hires Everhart-Valentin as Sustainability Director

LUBBOCK, Texas (March 30, 2020)—The United Sorghum Checkoff Program has launched an initiative to increase market value for growers by positioning sorghum as a sustainable solution for food, feed and energy sectors that serves the global community and its needs for nutrition and environmental health. The board also recently named Kira Everhart-Valentin as the organization’s first sustainability director.

Everhart-Valentin will be responsible for developing and leading the sorghum industry’s sustainability initiatives and will continually assess opportunities for investment and collaboration to increase the value of sorghum for farmers and industry stakeholders.

“We are delighted to have Kira join the Sorghum Checkoff,” Sorghum Checkoff Executive Director Florentino Lopez said. “Her unique skill set and experience will bring a meaningful perspective to developing and maintaining a sustainability strategy that appropriately highlights sorghum’s potential as an environmentally sustainable crop while still respecting the importance of maintaining economic stability for sorghum producers.” Continue reading

03-30-20 EPA Encourages Americans to Only Flush Toilet Paper

EPA Encourages Americans to Only Flush Toilet Paper

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2020) — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging all Americans to only flush toilet paper, not disinfecting wipes or other non-flushable items that should be disposed of in the trash. Flushing only toilet paper helps ensure that the toilets, plumbing, sewer systems and septic systems will continue working properly to safely manage our nation’s wastewater. While EPA encourages disinfecting your environment to prevent the spread of COVID-19, never flush disinfecting wipes or other non-flushable items. These easy steps will keep surfaces disinfected and wastewater management systems working for all Americans.

Preventable toilet and sewer backups can pose a threat to human health and present an extra challenge to our water utilities and their workforce. Flushing anything other than toilet paper, including disinfecting wipes, can damage internal plumbing, local sewer systems and septic systems. Fixing these backups is costly and takes time and resources away from ensuring that wastewater management systems are otherwise working properly. EPA thanks wastewater utilities and their workforce for their courageous efforts at a time when resources may be stretched thin. Having fully operational wastewater services is critical to containing COVID-19 and protecting Americans from other public health risks. Our nation’s wastewater employees are everyday heroes who are on the frontline of protecting human health and the environment every single day.

For more information, visit https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus

03-30-20 U.S. Senator Bennet, Barrasso Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Calling on Federal Government to Help Rural Health Providers

U.S. Senator Bennet, Barrasso Lead Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Calling on Federal Government to Help Rural Health Providers

In Letter to Health and Human Services, 122 Lawmakers Urge Immediate Financial Assistance to Rural Health Care Providers Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Bennet, Barrasso Recently Introduced Legislation to Bring Relief to Rural Hospitals and Providers

Denver – Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet along with U.S. Senator John Barrasso, M.D. (R-Wyo.) led a letter with 41 senators and 81 representatives to the Trump Administration urging them to provide immediate assistance to rural hospitals, clinics, and providers as the spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) increasingly strains hospitals and providers across the country.

The lawmakers specifically called on Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to use the funding included in the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to sustain rural health providers.

In the letter, Bennet and his colleagues highlighted how the vast majority of rural hospitals have stopped performing elective procedures and seeing non-urgent patients. Although these actions are necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus, they threaten the financial viability of many rural hospitals that were already struggling to keep their doors open. Bennet and the lawmakers urged Azar to take immediate steps to provide financial relief for rural providers during this global pandemic.

“We are hearing from rural hospitals from across the country that have only days left of cash on hand – money needed for payroll and supplies,” wrote Bennet and the lawmakers. “Mr. Secretary, our rural providers need your immediate assistance. Congress has provided you with the funding and flexibility. Now it is up to the administration to respond with rapid action to sustain rural providers. Any unnecessary delay will only worsen this situation. Therefore, we request you make the financial relief of rural hospitals a priority. Rural hospitals need access to financial resources immediately and in the most streamlined manner.”

Bennet and his colleagues also called on the administration to host a teleconference with members of Congress by April 3, 2020 to provide an update on how they intend to assist rural providers and hospitals across the country.

The text of the letter is available HERE and below. Continue reading

03-30-20 NACD Announces $8.5 Million in Grants to Conservation Districts

NACD Announces $8.5 Million in Grants to Conservation Districts

WASHINGTON – Today, the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) announced the award of $8.5 million in new technical assistance grants to over 300 conservation districts in 49 states and territories.

This is the third year of the Technical Assistance Grants program, created with funds from the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), to help increase staffing at the field level to provide conservation services to farmers, ranchers, forestland owners and local communities across the U.S.

“Even in this time of a national emergency, landowners have conservation concerns that need to be addressed,” NACD President Tim Palmer said. “We’re proud to provide funding to America’s conservation districts that allows for more boots on the ground, providing support for their individual landscapes and resource concerns.” Continue reading

03-30-20 Colorado Governor Polis Provides Update on State Response to COVID-19

PART #2 – Q&A WITH MEDIA

PART 1

Colorado Governor Polis Provides Update on State Response to COVID-19

***INFORMACIÓN SEGUIDA EN ESPAÑOL***

DENVER – Gov. Jared Polis provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19 as well as information on current cases in Colorado, including the number of cases, hospitalizations, and fatalities. Gov. Polis was also joined by Dr. Marc Moss, head of pulmonology at the University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus and a doctor at UC Health who came to represent the thousands of medical professionals working on the front lines in Colorado.

While the virus is still spreading rapidly in Colorado, our community will start to see the effects of the recent steps we’ve taken in the coming days and weeks. In the near-term, it is crucial that we all stay home whenever possible to avoid jeopardizing the health of their friends, family, and community,” said Governor Jared Polis. “During this challenging time, though we must be distant physically from one another for our health, I encourage Coloradans to remain close to our loved ones through different forms of communication like telephone and video chat and through acts of kindness.”

“As a pulmonary specialist, I have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re seeing this virus significantly impact Coloradans of all ages and we are now caring for an unprecedented number of critically ill patients,” said Dr. Marc Moss. “Our health care system is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. We continue working alongside our fellow health care workers to ensure we are doing everything we can to care for our patients.” Continue reading

03-30-19 Temporary Adjournment of General Assembly Continues

Temporary Adjournment of General Assembly Continues

Senate Democrats follow the guidance of public health experts and refrain from gathering

Denver, CO – Today the Senate President procedurally convened the chamber in order to extend the legislature’s temporary suspension due to the ongoing public health crisis.

On March 14, 2020, the General Assembly voted to temporarily adjourn the legislative session until March 30, in the interest of public safety. With the increase of COVID-19 cases in Colorado, as well as the Governor’s standing statewide stay-at-home order, it remains clear that it is unsafe to resume lawmaking at this time. Therefore, the General Assembly has decided to continue the suspension.

In accordance with the guidance of public health experts, Senate Democrats made the decision to refrain from gathering in the Capitol today.

“In the face of unprecedented risk to our community, the best thing we can do is support our medical professionals by staying home. We need to lead by example and honor the courageous work being done on the frontlines, not rigidly cling to technicalities,” said Majority Leader Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder. “There will be a time to return to do the people’s work that gets Colorado back on its feet, but for now we need to listen to our public health experts and work to ensure they have the resources and equipment they need to save lives.” Continue reading

03-30-20 CDPHE News: State Works to Increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Beds Statewide

CDPHE: State Works to Increase Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Beds Statewide

DENVER, March 30, 2020: The Colorado State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) is working with communities across the state to prepare for an expected major increase in the need for intensive care unit (ICU) beds as a result of COVID-19.

The SEOC is partnering with local public health organizations, health care facilities, the Colorado Hospital Association, and federal and state agencies to prepare for a potential medical surge by: Continue reading

03-30-20 USDA Extends ReConnect Application Deadline to April 15th

USDA Extends ReConnect Application Deadline to April 15th

WASHINGTON, March 30, 2020 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand today announced that USDA has extended the deadline for ReConnect Pilot Program applications to April 15.

“In light of the COVID-19 National Emergency, USDA is extending the application deadline for round two of ReConnect Pilot Program funding to give rural businesses, cooperatives, and communities extra time to apply for this critical assistance that will help bring high-speed broadband connectivity to rural communities,” Brand said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA has made deploying this critical infrastructure in rural America a top priority, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
For additional information, see page 17530 of the March 30 Federal Register (PDF, 269 KB).
Background:

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03-30-20 CLA: Court Denies R-Calf’s Motion

CLA: Court Denies R-Calf’s Motion

On March 27, 2020, District Court Judge Brian Morris upheld Magistrate Judge John Johnston’s January 29, 2020 Findings and Recommendations in the RCalf vs. USDA checkoff lawsuit.

The Court’s Order denies RCalf’s motion for summary judgement. RCalf may still appeal the decision to the 9th Circuit Court.

“Thanks for all of your help defending the Beef Checkoff.  We’re fortunate to have had Colorado’s livestock industry groups work together to ensure that valuable demand building programs can continue uninterrupted,” Todd Inglee, Colorado Beef Council, Executive Director, regarding the district court judge’s decision in Montana.

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03-30-20 CLA: Livestock Industry Sends Letter to Ag Secretary Perdue Urging Aid for U.S. Livestock Producers

Environmental Stewardship Award Program 2018

CLA: Livestock Industry Sends Letter to Ag Secretary Perdue Urging Aid for U.S. Livestock Producers

Following final passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act by the U.S. House of Representatives, CLA was one of 45 signers on a letter sent today urging United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue to “take immediate action to provide much-needed relief to cattle producers who have been negatively impacted due to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic.”

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03-30-20 CLA: Statewide Stay At Home Order and Agriculture

CLA: Statewide Stay At Home Order and Agriculture

Starting Thursday, March 26, 2020 the Governor issued a statewide order for Coloradans to stay at home to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
The order directs all Coloradans to stay at home, subject to limited exceptions such as obtaining food and other household necessities, going to and from work at critical businesses, seeking medical care, caring for dependents or pets, or caring for a vulnerable person in another location.
Agriculture is designated as a critical business as well as critical manufacturing. Continue reading

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, March 30th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, March 30th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

House Approves Coronavirus Relief Bill

The House of Representatives approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act on Friday. The bill, which the Senate had already approved 96-0, now goes to President Donald Trump, who’s already promised to sign it. The Hagstrom Report says the measure passed the House by voice vote, with just a few voices in opposition. Democrats in the House praised Senate Democrats and House leadership for making changes in the bill, while House Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady says, “Senate Democrats, aided by (House) Speaker Nancy Pelosi, recklessly delayed this bill for days and used this crisis to try and advance a frivolous political agenda. That failed, while the Senate found unanimous, if not perfect, ground.” Mike Rogers of Alabama told the House that the bill was particularly important to rural hospitals that need to buy supplies and build infrastructure to provide medical information and advice online. Washington state Republican Dan Newhouse told his colleagues before the vote that the bill would “support hardworking farmers and ranchers who provide food for the nation.” Pelosi herself called for a large vote so that Americans would realize the government is there to help.

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USDA Accepts Over 3.4 Million Acres in General CRP Signup

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue says his agency accepted over 3.4 million acres into the general Conservation Reserve Program signup that recently wrapped up. It’s the first general signup for enrollments since 2016. County offices will begin to notify producers with accepted acres no later than April 3. “The Conservation Reserve Program is one of our nation’s largest conservation endeavors and is critical in helping producers better manage their operations while conserving valuable natural resources,” Perdue says. “The program celebrates its 35th anniversary this year and we’re quite pleased to see one of our largest signups in many years.” For the past 3.5 decades, the CRP has addressed multiple concerns while ensuring the most competitive offers are selected by protecting fragile and environmentally-sensitive lands, improving water quality, enhancing wildlife populations, providing pollinator forage habitat, sequestering carbon in soil and enhancing soil productivity. Seventy percent of the nation’s land is privately owned, and America’s farmers and ranchers have stepped up to protect the environment and natural resources through this program. Farmers and ranchers get an annual rental payment for establishing long-term, resource-conserving plant species, such as approved grasses or trees, to help control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland.

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State Department to Accelerate H-2A Approvals

The U.S. State Department will speed up approvals of H-2A farmworkers by waiving interviews for many applicants. An Agri-Pulse report says the move is applauded by many of the country’s major ag groups, who were worried that embassy cutbacks due to the coronavirus outbreak would leave farmers without the labor they need to run their operations. Late last week, the State Department said consular officers have the option to go ahead and “waive the visa interview for first-time and returning H-2A applicants who have no potential ineligibility.” The State Department’s expansion of the waiver process also quadruples the period in which returning workers may qualify to have their interview waived. That timeframe used to be a year, but applicants who’ve had visas expire anytime during the last four years now won’t need to be interviewed if they are applying for the same visa classification and didn’t need an interview the last time they applied. A State Department document says the new approval process will only be valid during the current calendar year. The Western Growers’ Association issued a statement saying that the move will ease the flow of guest workers into the country during a time when our farmers are doubling their effort to provide the country with safe, healthy, affordable, and abundant food.

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Valero Closing Down Two Ethanol Plants

U.S. fuel ethanol producer and refiner Valero is shutting down two of its ethanol plants, one in Nebraska and the other in Iowa. They’re also declaring “force majeure” (mah-ZHURE) on shipments for dried distillers’ grains or corn purchases, which means they won’t be able to meet contracted demands because of unforeseeable conditions. The force majeure is because of a lack of storage availability for corn or ethanol as demand for fuel drops and storage remains limited due to the excess supply. The coronavirus outbreak is causing Americans to drive considerably less than usual, so the low demand and excess supply are forcing Valero to close plants in Albion, Nebraska, and Albert City, Iowa. An Independent Commodity Intelligence Services website article says the supply of fuel ethanol remains ample while some producers are switching to industrial ethanol production as demand from that sector continues to climb. The state of the summer driving season is also uncertain, which is limiting fuel demand. The peak demand for fuel ethanol is during the summer. Fuel ethanol demand is almost cut in half as the people who account for 45 percent of the overall demand are currently on stay-at-home-orders in the U.S., with those order numbers continuing to climb.

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Less than Half of U.S. Dairy Farms Signed up for DMC

Fewer dairy farmers chose to opt into the Dairy Margin Coverage Program that was authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. At the beginning of this year, the forecast was for an improving dairy economy and the USDA prediction tool that showed either low or no DMC payments this year. However, the rapidly-evolving situation brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak is a reminder about how important safety net programs can be in agriculture. DMC is a voluntary, insurance-style program that makes payments when the national average income-over-feed-cost margin falls below a coverage level selected by each farmer. Coverage is available from $4 a hundredweight to as much as $9.50 per hundredweight. At the time of the 2020 program year signup, the all-milk price was expected to remain well above the levels of the previous four years. Projections had the price as high as $19 a hundredweight during 2020. Like other industries, dairy has been hit by the pandemic. Class 3 and Class 4 milk futures have sharply declined. One bright spot is fluid milk sales. Those numbers have jumped higher as Americans shift food dollars away from restaurants and more into at-home spending on food.

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Farm Machinery Giants Feeling the Pinch of Coronavirus Fallout

Tractors would likely be moving at a quicker rate this year as farmers across rural America need to replace some aging machines. However, Bloomberg says there is very little movement of farm machinery in the U.S., plus European production is being hampered by shortages across the industry supply chain. Trade war uncertainties and low crop prices kept farmers from shelling out cash to replace their implements. Now the uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic is only making matters worse as no one can say for certain how long it will last or how much it will damage the economy. Both Deere & Co and AGCO Corporation say they’ll be cutting back their operations. The move by Deere comes just a month after it announced an unexpected boost in earnings and maintained its early-year positive outlook for stabilization in the ag economy. Now that they can’t forecast the future with as much confidence, the company has changed direction. Large-tractor sales are already down 50 percent below their peak level, which Bloomberg says is normally a sign that farmers have a significant need to replace their equipment. As the U.S. shuts down to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Deere will be reducing some operations and closing others. In Europe, production has already been significantly reduced or suspended in several AGCO facilities as the virus spreads across the continent.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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