06-10-20 USDA Seeks Farmers and Crop Insurance Professionals for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors

USDA Seeks Farmers and Crop Insurance Professionals for the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation Board of Directors

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2020 – USDA is looking for farmers and crop insurance professionals to serve on the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) Board of Directors. The board makes decisions that impact producers nationwide. FCIC introduces new federal crop insurance policies, modifies existing plans, and performs other oversight functions. More recently the FCIC Board made adjustments to help farmers during the pandemic, updated forage and malt barley policies, and increased the maximum coverage level for specialty crops to 85%.

There are several positions opening on the board this fall, including two farmers (one of whom must be a specialty crop producer), one insurance agent and one crop insurance industry position. These are all four-year term appointments which begin in the late fall of 2020. Anyone who is interested can email the FCIC Board Secretary, Robin Anderson, at robin.anderson2@usda.gov.

The deadline for applications is Monday, June 15 – so interested parties should contact RMA as soon as possible!

You can learn more about the FCIC Board of Directors and find great crop insurance tools online at https://www.rma.usda.gov.

06-10-20 USDA Ensures All Kids Can Get Free Meals This Summer as Nation Reopens

USDA Ensures All Kids Can Get Free Meals This Summer as Nation Reopens

Department Extends Additional Flexibility for Feeding Children
(Washington, D.C., June 10, 2020) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a nationwide extension of another key flexibility for USDA’s child nutrition programs. This waiver allows local partners, who have been working overtime serving meals to kids during the health crisis, the ability to continue serving free meals to all children – regardless of where they live – for the remainder of the summer. This action is part of USDA’s ongoing commitment to making it as easy as possible for local program operators to get food to children impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As our nation reopens and people return to work, it remains critical our children continue to receive safe, healthy, and nutritious food. We are extending one of the significant flexibilities provided in March during the coronavirus national emergency to schools, summer sites, and other folks who operate our programs so they can best adapt to the situation on-the-ground and serve our children well,” said Secretary Perdue. “This nationwide flexibility ensures America’s kids will continue to be fed this summer.”   
Since the start of the national public health crisis, FNS has used a whole of America approach to ensure those in need have access to one or more of the 15 nutrition assistance programs under USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service’s (FNS) umbrella. To date, FNS has approved over 2,800 flexibilities and will continue to work with states and other partners as the nation turns its focus to reopening in a safe way.
Background:  Continue reading

06-10-20 CSU SEA Extension: To Mask or Not to Mask, That is the Question!

CSU SEA Extension: To Mask or Not to Mask, That is the Question!

While it may not be quite as philosophical as Shakespeare’s “to be or not to be,” I
find myself in constant struggle trying to determine whether facemasks are really
helping slow the spread of COVID-19. It seems there are experts on both sides. So
who do I believe? Continue reading

06-10-20 USDA Farm Service Agency County Committee Nominations Open June 15th

USDA Farm Service Agency County Committee Nominations Open June 15th

#LeadYourFSA and be the Voice of Farmers in Your Community

WASHINGTON, June 10, 2020 – USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will begin accepting nominations for county committee members on Monday, June 15, 2020. Elections will occur in certain Local Administrative Areas (LAA) for these members who make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. All nomination forms for the 2020 election must be postmarked or received in the local FSA office by Aug. 1, 2020.

“I encourage America’s farmers, ranchers and forest stewards to nominate candidates to lead, serve and represent their community on their county committee,” FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce said. “There’s an increasing need for diverse representation, including underserved producers, which includes beginning, women and minority farmers and ranchers.”

Continue reading

06-10-20 USDA Expands Farmers.gov Feature to Help Manage Conservation Activities

USDA Expands Farmers.gov Feature to Help Manage Conservation Activities

New self-service features on farmers.gov will help farmers and ranchers manage their conservation activities online. You’ll now be able to view, download, and e-sign documents, request conservation assistance, view technical references and submit questions, access information on current and past conservation practices, and view detailed information on all previous and ongoing contracts, including the amount of planned and received cost-share assistance. These conservation features join several others already available through the authenticated farmers.gov portal.


READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 10th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Wednesday, June 10th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Farmers Can Still Use Dicamba Under Certain Guidelines

The Environmental Protection Agency says farmers and applicators who possessed one of three dicamba herbicides on June 3, 2020, can still use those products. Farmers may use those herbicides, following label instructions, and other state regulations, through July 31, 2020. That guidance follows a court decision last week vacating the registrations for Bayer’s XtendiMax, BASF’s Engenia, and Corteva’s FeXapan. June 3, 2020, is the effective date of the court ruling. The ruling does not include Syngenta’s Tavium. Distribution or sale of the three herbicides is prohibited except for ensuring proper disposal or return to the registrant. While the guidance from the EPA allows farmers to utilize dicamba on crops already planted this year, the future for dicamba is uncertain. EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler says the action, “has threatened the livelihood of our nation’s farmers and the global food supply.” Companies, such as Bayer, are currently working with the EPA for the registration of products for 2021 and beyond. 

Meatpacking Facilities Near Full Operation of 2019 Capacity

The Department of Agriculture says U.S. meatpacking facilities are operating at more than 95 percent of average capacity when compared to 2019. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue applauded the data, attributing the operations to the safe reopening of the facilities. USDA says beef facilities are operating at 98 percent, pork facilities are operating at 95 percent, and poultry facilities are operating at 98 percent of their capacity compared to the same time last year. Secretary Perdue thanked the industry and its workers, for “quickly getting their operations back up and running.” USDA says the facilities are safely resuming operations following an executive order by President Donald Trump to implement safety guidelines to protect workers from COVID-19. The closures led to shortages at grocery stores and a backlog of animals ready to slaughter, creating depressed prices for farmers, yet higher prices for consumers. USDA says it will continue to work with safety officials to keep the facilities open while maintaining worker safety.

USDA Announces Livestock Risk Protection Program Improvements

The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced changes to the Livestock Risk Protection insurance program for feeder cattle, fed cattle and swine starting this summer. USDA’s Risk Management Agency says changes include moving premium due dates to the end of the endorsement period and increasing premium subsidies to assist producers. RMA Administrator Martin Barbre says the changes will “make these policies more usable and affordable for livestock producers.” Specifically, the changes allow premiums to be paid at the end of the endorsement period, putting it in line with other policies. USDA will increase the premium subsidy for coverage levels above 80 percent. Those with an 80 percent or higher coverage level will get a five-percentage point subsidy increase. Producers may buy the insurance throughout the year from Approved Insurance Providers, with coverage prices ranging from 70 to 100 percent of the expected ending value of their animals. At the end of the insurance period, if the actual ending value is below the coverage price, producers will be paid an indemnity for the difference.

Farm and Biofuel Leaders Demand Answers on Retroactive EPA Exemptions

The biofuels industry Tuesday called on the Environmental Protection Agency to offer answers on what they call a new effort to undermine the Renewable Fuel Standard. During a Senate hearing last month, administration officials confirmed their consideration of retroactive small refinery exemptions covering previous years. The “gap-filings” are designed to reconstitute a continuous string of exemptions for select oil companies, “thus circumventing court limits on new oil industry handouts at the expense of farmers and biofuel producers.” However the ‘gap filings’ “appear to be little more than the latest in a string of oil industry tactics designed to subvert the law and sidestep a court order to uphold the RFS,” according to the letter from ten biofuels and farm groups. The groups say, “Backfilling SREs to circumvent a court decision would exacerbate market uncertainty at a time when rural communities already face unprecedented economic challenges.” The letter comes as more than 100 biofuels plants idled or cut production during the COVID-19 pandemic.

University of Missouri Updates Ag Baseline Projections

The June update to baseline farm economic projections by the University of Missouri suggests a $3 billion decline in net farm income. The University’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute Released the June update Tuesday. The forecasted decline in net farm income comes as farmers will receive a record total of government payments at $33 billion and total farm support reaching $50 billion in the current fiscal year. Given projected market developments and the assumption of no new government payment programs, both net farm income and net cash income are forecasted to decline again in 2021, with net farm income falling below $80 billion. The report projects 2020 corn-planted area at 96 million acres, second only to 2012, but one million acres below the March intentions report. The forecast expects corn prices received by farmers at $3.06 a bushel. Projected soybean-planted area is 84.5 million acres in 2020, up eight million acres from 2019 and one million acres from the planting intentions report. The report projects soybean prices for farmers to fall to $8.21 a bushel.

USDA Releases 2018 Puerto Rico Census of Agriculture

The Department of Agriculture just released the 2018 Census of Agriculture data for Puerto Rico. The data shows that the total value of the island’s agricultural production reached $485 million in 2018, a decrease of about $63 million from 2012 when the last Census of Agriculture was conducted. In September 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated the island, largely accounting for the 37.5 percent decrease in the number of farms and the 16.6 percent decrease in land in farms.  Due to the conditions caused by Hurricane Maria, NASS delayed the Puerto Rico Census of Agriculture from 2017 to 2018. The data show that popular crops like plantains and coffee experienced steep declines in value. In 2018, the value of plantain production dropped 47.5 percent and coffee dropped 83.7 percent from 2012. The new data shows that grains now represent a large portion of the total value of production in Puerto Rico, with an increase from $8.5 million in 2012 to $74.4 million in 2018.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service