READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 20th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, May 20th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

USDA Announces Details of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

The Trump administration Tuesday announced the rollout of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program, which will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers. Beginning May 26, the Department of Agriculture will be accepting applications from farmers who have suffered losses of five percent or more. The funds come from the $9.5 billion in appropriated funding provided in the CARES dedicated to agriculture and $6.5 billion from the Commodity Credit Corporation. Farmers will receive a combined total from CFAP and the CCC of 95 cents per bushel for soybeans, and 67 cents for corn. The payment rate for cattle is $247 per-head of slaughter cattle, $171 per-head of feeder cattle over 600 lbs, and $45 for hogs under 120lbs. There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity. Producers will receive 80 percent of their maximum total payment upon approval of the application. The remaining portion of the payment will be paid later. Producers can apply through their local FSA office, and applications will be accepted through August 28, 2020. Additional information and application forms can be found at farmers.gov/cfap.

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CFAP Welcomed, But More Relief Needed

Agriculture groups welcomed the rollout of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program direct payments but say farmers will need more relief. National Corn Growers Association President Kevin Ross says, “This assistance is a first step to getting farmers, and our customers, back on solid footing.” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall calls the program critically important, adding, “long-term effects of this pandemic are still rippling through the farm economy.” AFBF points out that farm bankruptcies increased 23 percent in March 2020 compared to a year earlier, bankruptcies that occurred before the pandemic dropped commodity prices. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Marty Smith adds, “this is just one step and much more needs to be done.” Details behind the $16 billion in direct payments were announced at the White House Tuesday. The Department of Agriculture is expected to utilize an additional $14 billion for relief funds to farmers and ranchers later this summer.

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NCBA Responds to Trump Comments on Beef Imports

President Donald Trump at the White House Tuesday suggested the United States should consider terminating trade deals that bring live cattle into the United States. Most cattle imported into the United States come from Mexico and Canada, thus falling under Trump’s new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. However, a recent Trump administration decision to allow fresh beef imports from Brazil is something the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association urged the President to reconsider. The association says there continue to be concerns with foot-and-mouth disease and USDA’s decision to reopen the American market to Brazilian beef. Approximately 12 percent of beef consumed in the U.S. is imported product, but that product must meet the U.S. standards before allowed into the market. Woodall adds, “We encourage him to re-examine the decision to reopen the market to imports from Brazil, Namibia (Nuh-MIB-be-uh), and any other nation where there are food safety or animal health concerns that could impact American consumers or cattle producers.”

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Survey Reveals COVID-19 School Meal Trends, Financial Impacts

Fresh data from the School Nutrition Association reveals significant concerns about the financial sustainability of school meal programs. The second installment of a survey effort by the association found COVID-19 closures have had a dramatic impact on school meal program budgets. Financial losses to the school nutrition program ranked as respondents’ top concern, cited by 90 percent as a serious or moderate concern. 861 school districts reported combined estimated financial losses of more than $626.4 million. School meal programs routinely operate on extremely tight budgets, funded by cafeteria sales and reimbursements for meals served. With schools closed and stay at home orders in place, fewer meals are served. The survey yielded responses from school nutrition professionals working on the frontlines to feed hungry students in 1,894 school districts nationwide. Conducted from April 30 – May 8, the survey shows 95 percent of respondents were engaged in emergency meal assistance, and combined, these districts reported serving more than 134 million meals in April alone.

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Chesapeake Bay Foundation to Sue EPA

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation and its partners filed a notice of intent to sue the Environmental Protection Agency this week. The Foundation plans to sue the EPA “for its failure to require Pennsylvania and New York to develop implementation plans that will achieve the 2025 Bay restoration goals.” The Attorneys General in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia also filed a notice that they intend to sue EPA as well. CBF President William C. Baker says the EPA has “failed to implement the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint.” CBF has used litigation previously to advance Bay restoration efforts. In 2009, CBF sued EPA for its failure to enforce the Clean Water Act and ensure that Bay restoration succeeds. The settlement of that lawsuit included the science-based limits established by EPA for pollution fouling the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams. The states developed individual plans to achieve those limits and committed to two-year milestones that outline the actions they will take to achieve those limits by 2025.

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Farm Journal Announces New Farm Show

Farm Journal this week announced the launch of a new “COVID-conscious” farm show experience called Farm Journal Field Days, set for August 25-27, 2020, on farms in eastern Iowa and northwest Ohio. The interactive Farm Journal Field Days includes a three-day Virtual Pavilion that runs concurrent with full-day on-farm demonstrations and programming. The on-farm sessions will be hosted August 25 at Blue Diamond Company farm in Jesup, Iowa, and August 27 at Newcomer Farm in Bryan, Ohio. Up to one hundred Top Producers will be voluntarily selected to participate in person on each farm with beyond-recommended social distancing rules, but in a highly personal, interactive experience. The first annual Farm Journal Field Days will encompass equipment, crops, livestock and technology with a focus on bringing buyers and sellers together in different and unique ways. The format will include one-on-one and group settings to observe innovations in practice, as well as interactive educational and sales methods. The on-farm programs and Virtual Pavilion will be promoted across Farm Journal’s digital and broadcast footprint.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service

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