04-16-20 US Senators Gardner, Bennet, and Governor Polis Make Unified Request for CARES Act Changes to Benefit Coloradans

US Senators Gardner, Bennet, and Governor Polis Make Unified Request for CARES Act Changes to Benefit Coloradans

“We share the common goals of keeping thousands of small businesses across Colorado and the nation with the ability to retain as many workers as they can, our hospitals and health care providers equipped with what they need, and state and local governments and tribes with the ability to respond during this pandemic.”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Colorado Governor Jared Polis are urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to make critical improvements to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act with the focus on the areas under negotiation in Washington to better support Coloradans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The statewide leaders in Colorado are calling for additional funding and critical modifications to the Paycheck Protection Program to support small businesses in Colorado and $500 billion in relief to states.

“Colorado is representative of America,” wrote the senators and the governor. “We have remote rural communities and large urban areas. We depend on the agriculture industry, but we also have some of the most cutting edge technology companies in the world. We are known for our restaurants, hotels, and outdoor recreation. Those industries are supported by countless plumbers, electricians, and contractors. And like America, we have our differences, but above all, Coloradans are pragmatic—we do what works. The ideas laid out in this letter reflect what Coloradans have told us is needed to make these programs work. We should waste no time in adopting them.”

In addition to requesting specific changes to the CARES Act to benefit more Colorado entities, the Colorado statewide leaders are requesting additional funding to support frontline health care providers, the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Program, states, local governments, and tribes, and increasing overall SNAP benefits by 15 percent to alleviate pressure on hardest-hit families in Colorado during the crisis.

“We believe that we share the common goals of keeping thousands of small businesses across Colorado and the nation with the ability to retain as many workers as they can, our hospitals and health care providers equipped with what they need, and state and local governments and tribes with the ability to respond during this pandemic,” they wrote.

The full text of the letter is available here and below: Continue reading

04-16-20 Press Briefing with United States Coronavirus Task Force: Opening Up America Again Plan Revealed

Press Briefing with United States Coronavirus Task Force – April 16, 2020

Opening Up America Again LogoOpening Up America Again

President Trump has unveiled Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts. These steps will help state and local officials when reopening their economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives. CLICK HERE TO VIEW

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04-16-20 State and Colorado Hospital Association release data illustrating recovery rate and COVID-19-related demand on health care system

State and Colorado Hospital Association release data illustrating recovery rate and COVID-19-related demand on health care system

DENVER, April 16, 2020: The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA) are partnering to release enhanced COVID-19 related data, including current hospitalizations, daily discharge of patients who no longer need hospitalization, and number of facilities anticipating potential resource shortages due to COVID-19.

Together, the data help provide a picture of the level of demand that the pandemic disease is placing on hospitals across the state. The discharge data provides a general estimate of the number of patients who have recovered from the most severe symptoms of COVID-19.

The data can be found at covid19.colorado.gov/hospital-data and includes information that hospitals report daily to the state of Colorado Unified Command Group (UCG) : Continue reading

04-16-20 USDA Invests More Than $200 Million in Partner-Driven Projects that Protect Natural Resources

USDA Invests More Than $200 Million in Partner-Driven Projects that Protect Natural Resources

WASHINGTON, April 16, 2020 – USDA’s Natural Resources Service (NRCS) today announced it is investing in 48 conservation projects across 29 states through its Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). NRCS will award $206 million for these 48 RCPP projects while leveraging nearly $300 million in partner contributions.

“I’m excited to announce the first RCPP awards under the 2018 Farm Bill,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. “Through collaboration and aligning our resources toward a common goal, we’re making an impact for natural resource conservation that could never have been realized on our own.”

RCPP uses a partner-driven approach to fund innovative solutions to natural resource challenges. Through RCPP, NRCS and partners work together with private landowners and producers to implement a variety of conservation activities, including land management practices and systems, short-term land rentals, conservation easements and watershed structures. The mix of conservation activities carried out under each project is dependent on a project’s goals, objectives and conservation benefits.

These projects offer impactful and measurable outcomes. They will support diverse agricultural and natural resource objectives, from helping farmers and ranchers improve water quality, soil health and drought resiliency to protecting drinking water supplies and enhancing wildlife habitat.

Projects selected for this round of funding include: Continue reading

04-16-20 CDPHE: COVID-19 Media Briefing Audio for April 16th

CDPHE: COVID-19 Media Briefing Audio for April 16th

APRIL 16, 2020 – To comply with social distancing guidance, support transparency,  and keep the media informed, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) held a remote press conference for inquiries regarding the state response to COVID-19, featured:

  • Scott Bookman, Incident Commander for state COVID-19 response
  • Dr. Rachel Herlihy, State Epidemiologist, CDPHE

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Media Questions asked: Continue reading

04-16-20 USDA: A message from the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE)

USDA: A message from the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE)

Friends,
During this trying time, the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement (OPPE) remains ready to assist our customers. We are diligently working to connect individuals, communities, and organizations to USDA resources and to businesses and associations with the willingness to help.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue is taking swift action to ensure kids and families are fed during the pandemic and that all of your USDA COVID-19 questions are answered. Additionally, USDA developed the COVID-19 Federal Rural Resource Guide for rural leaders looking for federal funding and partnership opportunities to help address this pandemic. Continue reading

04-16-20 STAKEHOLDER ANNOUNCEMENT: USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Residents, Businesses and Communities Affected by COVID-19 *Updated April 15, 2020*

STAKEHOLDER ANNOUNCEMENT: USDA Implements Immediate Measures to Help Rural Residents, Businesses and Communities Affected by COVID-19 *Updated April 15, 2020*

*Updated April 15, 2020*

WASHINGTON, April 15, 2020 – USDA Rural Development has taken a number of immediate actions to help rural residents, businesses and communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural Development will keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated as more actions are taken to better serve rural America.

Read the full announcement to learn more about the opportunities USDA Rural Development is implementing to provide immediate relief to our customers, partners, and stakeholders.

SOURCE

04-16-20 Inside the BARN with NACD President-elect Michael Crowder…

Inside the BARN with NACD President-elect Michael Crowder…

COVID-19 Impacts. Increased Funding Request, Pollinator Guide & Conservation Education Hub, Envirothon Cancelled & More

(BARN Media / FarmCast Radio – Briggsdale, CO) April 16, 2020 – Within this month’s interview with the National Association of Conservation Districts… First Vice-President Michael Crowder discusses several issues pertinent to the agriculture, locally-led conservation efforts and to the NACD, including:

  • NACD & the COVID-19 situation
  • NACD requests increased funding during Virtual Advocacy Day
  • NACD submits letter to Congress requesting support and funding for America’s conservation districts in future stimulus bills
  • NACD’s requests Congress through the annual appropriations cycle to invest in greater conservation
  • NACD’s Pollinator Guide and Conservation Education Hub
  • NACD cancels 2020 NCF-Envirothon competition
  • Important CACD event Information too
  • & MORE

041620_NACD-MichaelCrowder_WavePadRecording_13m8s

Learn more about NACD First Vice President Michael Crowder

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04-16-20 ACE: States’ RFS waiver request illegitimate, fuel demand drop already waiving blending volumes and EPA must adjust RVO upward

ACE: States’ RFS waiver request illegitimate, fuel demand drop already waiving blending volumes and EPA must adjust RVO upward 

Sioux Falls, SD – In response to governors of five U.S. states requesting a nationwide waiver exempting oil refiners from their Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) blending obligations due to the coronavirus, American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings pointed out that ACE’s letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) earlier this month provides the counterpoint — EPA must adjust the percentage of renewable fuel volume obligated parties must use in 2020 upward to offset the nosedive in gasoline use as a result of coronavirus, otherwise EPA will be violating the RFS statute which amounts to an illegal waiver of blending volumes. Jennings released the following statement in reaction:

“Not only should EPA dismiss the oil-state governors’ RFS waiver request, the Agency should act swiftly to increase blending obligations in 2020 because the economic fallout from COVID-19 is destroying demand for ethanol below statutory levels. ACE’s recent letter to EPA is the counterpoint to the governors’ RFS waiver request. Unless and until EPA increases the percentage of renewable fuel volume obligated parties must use in 2020, it is already handing oil refiners a nationwide waiver illegally.

“EPA has no other choice than to reject this most recent ploy to waive the RFS based on precedent from previous waiver appeals in 2008 and 2012 which require EPA to determine that the RFS itself must be proven to be the cause of severe economic harm to justify a waiver, not outside factors such as coronavirus or a drought. The RFS is clearly not the cause of the economic catastrophe brought on by coronavirus and the Saudi-Russian oil price war, and the oil industry should direct its blame elsewhere.

“We remind the Administration that oil refiners are not the only ones suffering from the economic fallout of the current situation. Ethanol producers, and the farmers supplying them corn, are suffering a proportional economic disaster. EPA should in fact do the opposite of the governors’ request and issue an interim rule to increase the RVO for 2020 to the percentage necessary to ensure that the full 20.09 billion gallons required by law are used.” Continue reading

04-16-20 NFU REMINDER: USDA Service Centers Move to Remote Operations

NFU REMINDER: USDA Service Centers Move to Remote Operations
U.S. Department of Agriculture Service Centers are encouraging visitors to take proactive protective measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
USDA Service Centers will continue to be open for business by phone appointment only and field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. While Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program delivery staff at the Service Centers will continue to come into the office, they will be working with producers by phone, and using online tools whenever possible.
Producers can find their Service Center’s phone number here and more information about Coronavirus and USDA Service Centers here.

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04-16-20 NFU: USDA Extends Deadlines for Local Food System Grant Programs

NFU: USDA Extends Deadlines for Local Food System Grant Programs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is  extending the deadline for programs that fall under the Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP), including the Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP), the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP), as well as the new Regional Food System Partnerships program (RFSP). Applications for these programs are now due May 26, 2020. The extension is modest to ensure AMS still can issue grant awards on time, while offering some extra time for applicants to consider how the COVID-19 pandemic might alter the contents of their applications.

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04-16-20 NFU: Some Farmers Eligible for Paycheck Protection Program

NFU: Some Farmers Eligible for Paycheck Protection Program
The recently enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds several new financial assistance programs that are available to farmers and ranchers who have been affected by the pandemic.
One such program is the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides forgivable loans to help “businesses keep their workforce employed.” PPP loans have a maturity of 2 years and an interest rate of 1 percent. Loan payments are deferred for the first six months, and loans will be fully forgiven if at least 75 percent of the funds are used for payroll or income costs, and the remainder is used for interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. For businesses with employees, forgiveness is based on the employer maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels. Forgiveness will be reduced if full-time headcount declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.

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04-16-20 RFA: Oil State Governors Wrong to Target Renewable Fuel Standard, Rural Jobs

RFA: Oil State Governors Wrong to Target Renewable Fuel Standard, Rural Jobs

The governors of five oil states—Texas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Utah and Louisiana—sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency late Wednesday asking the agency to waive renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the oil industry. Geoff Cooper, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association, offers the following response:
“Apparently toilet paper isn’t the only thing in short supply in oil states these days—clearly, these governors are experiencing an acute shortage of facts and reality too. It’s clear they know absolutely nothing about how the Renewable Fuel Standard actually works. They outrageously claim that a waiver is needed because of ‘depressed demand for transportation fuel.’ But because EPA translates the RFS into a percentage each year, the renewable fuel blending requirements already adjust in tandem with changes in gasoline and diesel consumption. So, if COVID-19 causes 2020 gasoline and diesel demand to drop 15 percent, for example, the renewable fuel blending requirements drops by the exact same amount.

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USDA – FAS Weekly Export Sales Report for April 16th

USDA FAS - Foreign Agricultural Service header

Weekly Export Sales for April 16th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 16th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, April 16th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

White House Economic Revival Group Includes Ag Representatives

The White House economic recovery group includes agriculture leaders. Announced this week, the Great American Economic Revival Industry Groups will “chart the path forward toward a future of unparalleled American prosperity,” according to a White House press release. The panel on agriculture includes American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, along with processor and packer representatives from Tyson Foods, Cargill, Archer-Daniels-Midland, and others. The plan includes a separate food and beverage industry panel, as well. There are 16 panels in all, representing most of the U.S. economic sectors. Crop and livestock markets are plunging during the COVID-19 pandemic, with industry losses worth billions of dollars. The National Pork Producers Council called the pandemic a “financial disaster” for pork producers. The nation’s hog farmers face a collective $5 billion loss for the remainder of the year, according to the organization. Nearly all agriculture sectors are requesting relief from the White House and the federal government to help farmers through the pandemic.

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Ag Aid Package Coming Soon

The Department of Agriculture may roll out a plan to provide relief to farmers this week. Reuters reports the plan may be unveiled soon, as part of the billions of dollars in funding made available to farmers and ranchers through the CARES Act. USDA sources say the initial plan will include direct payments to farmers, using CARES Act funding, and other resources. The CARES Act includes $9.5 billion in dedicated disaster funding, along with $14 billion to replenish the Commodity Credit Corporation. However, USDA previously indicated the CCC funding cannot be used until later this summer. The CCC has $6 billion in borrowing authority left out of $30 billion allowed annually, until June 30. The $9.5 billion is expected to be used to assist livestock producers, along with fruit and vegetable growers, and those who sell direct to consumers. USDA expects to announce additional aid phases as funding becomes available later this summer.

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Coronavirus-Related Cattle Industry Losses Estimated at $13.6 Billion

A study released this week estimates cattle industry losses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will reach $13.6 billion. The study was commissioned by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and conducted by a team of agricultural economists. The study shows cow-calf producers will see the largest impact, with COVID-19-related losses totaling an estimated $3.7 billion, or $111.91 per head for each mature breeding animal in the United States. Without offsetting relief payments, those losses could increase by $135.24 per mature breeding animal, for an additional impact totaling $4.45 billion in the coming years. Researchers who contributed to the study say the current situation is very fluid and uncertain, and additional damages are likely. NCBA hopes the results will assist USDA in determining how best to allocate CARES Act relief funds to cattle producers. NCBA CEO Colin Woodall says the study shows relief funds provided by Congress were a good first step. However, “there remains a massive need for more funding to be allocated as soon as members of Congress reconvene.”

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Consumer Concerns Remain High Amid Pandemic

Consumer concerns remain high amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Research by the Consumer Brands Association shows that for the sixth week, American attitudes have remained largely consistent, as 91 percent of Americans say they are generally concerned about the virus. Preparedness also held steady from last week, with 76 percent of Americans reporting they feel prepared for the coronavirus’ impact on their life. As manufacturers ramp up production and grocery stores implement item limits to prevent overbuying, 55 percent of respondents reported seeing more availability and restocks of high-demand items. Access concerns over finding shelf-stable food and beverage items, as well as over-the-counter medicines, both dropped. The most notable decrease was in food and beverage items, where high-demand items are reportedly coming back in stock across the country. For many Americans, a return to normalcy can’t come soon enough. A majority, 60 percent said they are concerned about their ability to pay bills and afford necessities.

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Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Program Announced

The Wisconsin Dairy Industry Wednesday announced the Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Program. Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin, and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection have joined forces with the state’s leading anti-hunger organization, Hunger Task Force, by connecting milk to emergency food organizations throughout the state. With the substantial support of the local individual donor community during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hunger Task Force will commit up to $1 million to the newly created Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Program. Wisconsin dairy farmers will be paid to supply milk to farmer-owned dairy cooperative Kemps, who will process the milk. Hunger Task Force will distribute milk to free and local partner food banks and food pantries through the Hunger Relief Federation of Wisconsin. The $45.6 billion dairy industry in Wisconsin is dealing with a sudden loss of business in schools and restaurants that account for nearly half the market. Without action, the groups say the entire state will feel the consequences and additional losses from a dairy and supply chain perspective.

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United Fresh Start Foundation Awards $25,000 Through COVID-19 Donation Program

The United Fresh Start Foundation has infused the fresh produce industry with 25 $1,000 COVID-19 Rapid Response FRESH Grants. The funds will help increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for children and families in need, while also creating opportunities for foodservice distributors experiencing lost markets. The 25 grant recipients will provide fresh fruits and vegetables to children and families in need, reaching them in schools, community centers, and other emergency feeding sites. Chair of the United Fresh Start Foundation Board of Trustees, Lisa McNeece, says, “We praise all of the companies across the supply chain working within their communities to broaden access to fresh fruits and vegetables, despite their own economic hardships.” The program is funded through the generosity of individuals who have agreed to donate their prepaid registration fees for the United Fresh 2020 Convention in San Diego to the United Fresh Start Foundation. Additional donations will allow the Foundation to build upon its efforts. More information is available on UnitedFresh.org.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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