05-04-20 EPA Celebrates Air Quality Awareness Week May 4 – May 8, 2020

EPA Celebrates Air Quality Awareness Week May 4 – May 8, 2020

WASHINGTON (May 4, 2020) — This week, as part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) month-long celebration of our nation’s progress in improving air quality over the last 50 years, we are celebrating the 14th annual Air Quality Awareness Week. Over the course of the week, EPA will showcase educational activities and other resources for teachers, students, and families who want to learn more about air quality.
“The United States is a global leader in clean air progress,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “From 1970 to 2018, the combined emissions of the six criteria air pollutants regulated under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards have dropped by 74 percent.” I am proud, as all Americans should be, that we as an agency are continuing this progress.”
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05-04-20 ACE stands ready to assist fuel retailers as USDA rolls out HBIIP details to expand availability and use of higher ethanol blends

ACE stands ready to assist fuel retailers as USDA rolls out HBIIP details to expand availability and use of higher ethanol blends

Sioux Falls, SD – Today, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced further information and details surrounding the application process for its Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP), which makes available up to $100 million in competitive grants for activities designed to expand the sale and use of renewable fuels, $86 million of which is reserved for higher blends of ethanol. The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) is focusing its market development efforts, including the fuel-marketer-focused website flexfuelforward.comon ensuring fuel marketers know about the funding and receive any assistance they need to participate. ACE Senior Vice President and Market Development Director Ron Lamberty provided insight to USDA during the initial HBIIP stakeholder meeting and has been in close consultation with the USDA since. Lamberty released the following statement in response to today’s announcement:

“ACE is gratified to see many policies we recommended to USDA to make the program more accessible to single store and small chain operators were included in the final program. In particular, we appreciate the Targeted Assistance Goal (TAG) which makes approximately 40 percent of funds available specifically for applicants owning 10 fueling stations/locations or fewer. USDA is also offering applicants ‘consideration for geographical diversity and markets underserved by higher blends’ to help establish higher blend retail facilities in a broader geographic area, which ACE identified as critical to widespread E15 use in our recommendations to USDA. Continue reading

05-04-20 Colorado Governor Polis Provides Latest Update on State Response to COVID-19


Colorado Governor Polis Provides Latest Update on State Response to COVID-19 for May 4th



Monday, May 4, 2020

Governor Polis Provides Update on Colorado Response to COVID-19

DENVER – Gov. Polis today provided an update on Colorado’s response to COVID-19.

“During Safer at Home, Coloradans doing their part will be the key to our shared success in protecting our health and the health of our communities. I’m so proud of how our state responded during the Stay-at-Home order, and it’s going to take that same dedication during these next few weeks. That’s why we’re going to be working closely with local officials and community leaders to ensure Coloradans understand Safer at Home requirements and are able to keep themselves and their neighbors safe,” said Gov. Polis. “I’m also excited to be sharing more data with Coloradans about where you can find community testing sites near home.” 

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05-04-20 USDA Secretary Perdue Statement on Economic Injury Disaster Loans Being Available to U.S. Agricultural Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

USDA Secretary Perdue Statement on Economic Injury Disaster Loans Being Available to U.S. Agricultural Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Pandemic

(Washington, D.C., May 4, 2020) – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today applauded the announcement that agricultural producers, for the first time, are now eligible for the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs.

“America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers need the same help that other American businesses need during this unprecedented time,” said Secretary Perdue. “This significant new authority signed by President Trump will make a tremendous difference for America’s agricultural community.”

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05-04-20 USDA Announces $100 million for American Biofuels Infrastructure

USDA Announces $100 million for American Biofuels Infrastructure

WASHINGTON, May 4, 2020 – Approved Insurance Providers (AIPs) may allow organic producers to report acreage as certified organic, or transitioning to organic, for the 2020 crop year if they can show they have requested a written certification from a certifying agent by their policy’s acreage reporting date. USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) made available this flexibility to help those impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Many state and local governments have issued “stay-at-home” orders and have shut down non-essential businesses, resulting in market disruptions and preventing in-person crop insurance transactions.

“As the pandemic continues, RMA is also continuing to add more flexibilities to assist America’s farmers and ranchers,” RMA Administrator Martin Barbre said. “We will ensure that the Federal crop insurance program continues to serve the needs of our nation’s producers.”

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READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, May 4th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Monday, May 4th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Perdue: Meatpackers to Open in “Days,” Not Weeks

Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue says meatpacking plants that have been slowed or shut down due to coronavirus will open again in days, not weeks. Slaughterhouse employees are set to receive additional protective gear and will have access to COVID-19 testing “virtually immediately.” The Hill Dot Com says Perdue expects the shortfall in meat production is likely as high as 30 percent but will drop to between 10 and 15 percent within 10 days. However, Perdue does say that production likely won’t return to the pre-pandemic pace as new safety procedures are put in place to reduce the spread of coronavirus. “There will be some less production, some inefficiency based on line speeds, some employees that will not be able to come back to work,” Perdue says. “We want to assure the workers and their community of their safety.” As the virus continued to spread across the country, more than a dozen meat processing plants have been temporarily shut down due to outbreaks. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union reported at least 6,500 workers who had directly been affected by the coronavirus, as well as 20 deaths at plants across the country. The USDA will require processors to submit plans to operate packing facilities safely and review those measures with local officials.


Coalition Opposes API Petitions on RFS Obligations

The American Petroleum Institute recently filed a petition with the Environmental Protection Agency requesting a reconsideration of the 2020 Renewable Fuel Standard final rule. A coalition of ethanol and farm groups sent a letter to the EPA last week in opposition to the petition. API claims the EPA needs to reconsider the rule because of the coalition’s recent Tenth Circuit Court victory that overturned the small refinery exemptions illegally granted by the EPA. API also argues in its petition that the 2020 RFS rule should be revised to eliminate measures that prospectively “reallocate” RFS blending obligations expected to be lost to refinery waivers. The Petroleum Institute says the reallocation of expected waivers is no longer needed because the Tenth Circuit Court decision should significantly curtail the number of waivers granted. However, EPA hasn’t confirmed that it will implement the tenets of the court decision nationwide, meaning reconsideration of the 2020 RFS rule would be very premature. “There is no basis for revisiting or modifying EPA’s current approach until EPA acknowledges that the central tenets of the Tenth Circuit Court’s decision are appropriately applied across the country,” the groups say in their letter.


RMA Makes Changes to Forage Seeding, Forage Production Crop Insurance

USDA’s Risk Management Agency made some changes to the Forage Seeding and Forage Production crop insurance programs that will start during the 2021 crop year. The changes will include expanding coverage to new regions and counties, expanding coverage to fall-planted forage, as well as changing the method for loss adjustment. “These changes will expand coverage to new places, better reflect current agricultural practices, and better protect forage producers from losses,” says RMA Administrator Martin Barbre. “This will also enable forage producers to better secure loans and provide continuity to their forage production operations.” The specific changes include establishing coverage of forage seeding for producers in an additional 186 counties. Coverage is expanded to fall-planted forage and aligns forage seeding cancellation and termination dates with the dates of other fall-planted crops in each state. RMA will revise loss-adjustment procedures to rely upon the number of live alfalfa stems rather than the number of live plants for making loss determinations for forage containing more than 60 percent alfalfa. Changes are listed in a final rule on the Federal Register at regulations.gov. Interested people are invited to comment on the rule for 60 days.


Small Farmer Debt Relief Act Introduced in House

Democratic Representatives from New York, Maine, Vermont, and New Jersey introduced the Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act. The legislation would provide one-time debt forgiveness of up to $250,000 for farmers who hold existing loan obligations with the USDA. The Hagstrom Report says the bill would apply that one-time debt forgiveness to three types of USDA loans, including direct-farm operating loans, direct farm ownership loans, as well as emergency loans. Farmers with an average adjusted gross income of $300,000 a year or less over the previous five years would be eligible for the debt relief. The legislation will offer a one-year window for farmers to apply for the relief. Farmers would have to commit to being actively engaged in farming for at least two years after receiving loan forgiveness. The bill has widespread support from a wide spectrum of organizations, including the National Family Farm Coalition, National Young Farmers Coalition, Farm Aid, Family Farm Action, Rural Coalition, Rural Advancement Foundation International, as well as the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Campaign for Family Farms and the Environment.


Early Registration Open for NCGA National Corn Yield Contest

The National Corn Yield Contest is officially underway, and the National Corn Growers Association is encouraging potential entrants to register early and save on entry fees. Fees are reduced to $75 until June 30. NCGA points out that a small-time investment now will save some money later in the summer. The contest has been one of the premier events of every corn-growing season since 1965, with the contest offering challenges and rewards to each of the entrants. In 2019, 7,454 growers accepted the challenge of testing their corn production skills and knowledge by competing with proven winners to reach the ultimate goal of being named champion. NCGA invites American farmers to take advantage of the opportunity to explore new ideas and production techniques while gaining knowledge to enhance future yield potential. Winners will get national recognition in various publications like the NCYC Corn Yield Guide, as well as other rewards from participating sponsors from seed, crop, and chemical companies. State winners will be honored during the NCYC Breakfast at Commodity Classic in San Antonio, Texas. Visit the National Corn Growers website for more information.


American Farmland Trust Helping Farmers Who Sell Directly to Consumers

American Farmland Trust’s Farmer Relief Fund started sending out $1,000 grant checks to 1,000 farmers across the country as America sees unprecedented disruptions to the food system. The funds are going to help small to mid-size producers that sell directly to consumers, foodservice businesses, or institutions. All of the funds from the AFT are being given to farmers directly and with no restrictions on how to use them, only that they use the money to support modifications to their business model that will get them through until normal markets return. Direct-to-consumer farmers have been severely impacted by “social distancing” policies and closures that have kept them from selling to their usual customers and necessitated they make dramatic shifts in the way they do business to stay afloat. “We’re helping in a small way where the need is huge,” says American Farm Trust President and CEO John Piotti (Pee-AHT-tee). “We believe the farmers who sell directly to consumers were the most immediately impacted when the pandemic set in.” He says farmers who sell directly to consumers were also hurt because there is no federal safety net in place to help them during tough times.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service