06-24-20 USDA Provides Flexibilities to Ensure Kids Receive Meals This Fall

USDA Provides Flexibilities to Ensure Kids Receive Meals This Fall

Local schools and childcare providers are empowered to adapt meal service operations for the upcoming school year

Washington, D.C., June 25, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced a range of nationwide flexibilities to ensure America’s children receive the nutritious food they need throughout the upcoming school year. These waivers give states, schools, and childcare providers time to plan for how they will serve children in the fall, including allowing for new and innovative feeding options as the nation recovers from the coronavirus.
“As the country re-opens and schools prepare for the fall, a one-size-fits-all approach to meal service simply won’t cut it,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. “The flexibilities announced today give states, schools, and child care providers the certainty they need to operate the USDA child nutrition programs in ways that make sense given their local, on-the-ground situations and ensure America’s children can count on meal service throughout the school year.”  

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06-25-20 USDA Adds Digital Options for Farmers and Ranchers to Apply for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

USDA Adds Digital Options for Farmers and Ranchers to Apply for Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

Online portal, e-signature tool enable producers to apply from anywhere

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2020 – USDA’s Farm Service Agency will now accept applications for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) through an online portal, expanding the options available to producers to apply for this program, which helps offset price declines and additional marketing costs because of the coronavirus pandemic. FSA is also leveraging commercial document storage and e-signature solutions to enable producers to work with local service center staff to complete their applications from home.

“We are doing everything we can to serve our customers and make sure agricultural producers impacted by the pandemic can quickly and securely apply for this relief program,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “In addition to working with FSA staff through the phone, email and scheduled in-person appointments, we can now also take applications through the farmers.gov portal, which saves producers and our staff time.”

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06-25-20 USDA Highlights Accomplishments in Rural High-Speed Broadband Deployment Under American Broadband Initiative

USDA Highlights Accomplishments in Rural High-Speed Broadband Deployment Under American Broadband Initiative

June Progress Report Shows USDA Played Key Role in Connecting 430,000 Rural Americans, Improving Investment Data, and Cutting Red-Tape

WASHINGTON D.C.  – June 25, 2020 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture joined its government partners to release a Progress Report (PDF, 337 KB) detailing the accomplishments of the American Broadband Initiative (ABI) one year after the release of the initial ABI Milestones Report. The Progress Report released today shows significant achievements across government in removing regulatory barriers to broadband deployment, leveraging public resources for broadband expansion, and maximizing the impact of federal broadband funding.

“High-speed broadband internet connectivity, or e-Connectivity, is a cornerstone of healthy and prosperous communities,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “Under the leadership of President Trump, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to America’s rural communities in deploying this essential infrastructure because we believe that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios added, “President Trump has made expanding rural broadband access a top priority, and Americans nationwide are seeing results. Since its launch last year, the American Broadband Initiative has made important progress in removing barriers to broadband deployment and spurring investment in network buildout. The Trump Administration remains committed to ensuring all Americans can connect to our 21st century economy.”

The Progress Report highlights USDA’s Accomplishments in the last year in deploying high-speed broadband across rural America: Continue reading

06-25-20 Wheat Industry Applauds Bipartisanship Around the Grain Standards

Wheat Industry Applauds Bipartisanship Around the Grain Standards

Washington, D.C. – On June 24th, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture held a business meeting to markup the United States Grain Standards Reauthorization Act (GSA) of 2020. The National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) applaud the Committee for their bipartisan work to move the bill forward and reauthorize the GSA through September 30, 2025.

“Thanks in part to the advantage and premium international buyers place on the grain inspection system, U.S. wheat continues to maintain its competitiveness in the international market. Given the current uncertainty in trade agreements and many of the bearish factors working against U.S. wheat exports, it is critical we maintain one of our key advantages,” said National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) President and Cass City, Mich., farmer Dave Milligan. “To avoid any disruption in inspection services and keep the flow of grain moving NAWG encourages Congress to act quickly to reauthorize the Grain Standards Act before expiration in September.”

The United States Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020, introduced by Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), extends the authorization for the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to continue providing inspection services and to maintain an official marketing standard for certain grains and oilseeds. On July 31, 2019 Kansas wheat farmer Brian Linin testified to the Senate Committee on Agriculture on behalf of NAWG in support of reauthorization of GSA. Linin also serves on the Kansas Wheat Commission and is a U.S. Wheat Associates board member.

“Our exports markets are critical to U.S. wheat farmers’ bottom lines as they see 50 percent of U.S. wheat exported each year,” said U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Chairman and Paulding, Ohio, wheat farmer Doug Goyings. “The grain inspection system is one of our key advantages over our competitors that has helped wheat and other U.S. commodities grow export markets. Our overseas customers value the independent system in place through the Grain Standards Act.” Continue reading



Executives say federal government has not done enough to support the industry

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on an industry that represents 12 percent of the U.S. manufacturing sector, according to a new survey released today by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). While equipment manufacturers are adjusting to the changing economic conditions, three quarters of U.S. equipment manufacturers say that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the overall economy is still very negative. In addition, six out of 10 executives say that the federal government has not done enough to support the industry as it continues to face decreased demand and disrupted supply chains.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to negatively impact equipment manufacturers and the 2.8 million men and women of our industry,” said Dennis Slater, president of AEM. “We have seen some improvements to the operations and financial outlook for our member companies, but the industry still faces a long road back to normal. Even as our industry continues to help build, feed, and power our country, far too many of our member companies are running out of time.”

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06-25-20 NFU Welcomes Charlie Michel as Education and Outreach Coordinator

NFU Welcomes Charlie Michel as Education and Outreach Coordinator

National Farmers Union (NFU) is pleased to welcome Charlie Michel to its team. In his role as Education and Outreach Coordinator, Charlie supports membership development and the NFU Foundation’s general education programs. He also manages the Local Food Safety Collaborative, a cooperative partnership between NFU and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that facilitates training, education, and outreach through a nationwide network of food and agriculture organizations. Charlie began his tenure with NFU as an intern and looks forward to continuing to make positive introductions to the organization through that program. Prior to joining NFU, Charlie volunteered on farms in six states through Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms and worked a season on a peach orchard in Palisade, Colorado. He was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and attended school in-state, earning a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Ashland University and a master’s in operations research from Case Western Reserve University. In his free time, you’ll find Charlie out running, tending his vegetable garden, or immersed in a good film noir.

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USDA – FAS Weekly Export Sales Report for June 25th

USDA FAS - Foreign Agricultural Service header

Weekly Export Sales for June 25th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 25th

READ the NAFB’s National Ag News for Thursday, June 25th

Sponsored by the American Farm Bureau Federation

Senate Ag Committee Passes Grain Standards Reauthorization

The Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday passed the United States Grain Standards Reauthorization Act of 2020 by a voice vote. The bill extends the authorization for the Federal Grain Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture to continue providing inspection services and to maintain an official marketing standard for certain grains and oilseeds. The bill now heads to the full Senate to consider the five-year reauthorization. Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican, says, “the entire federal grain inspection system needs the certainty, predictability, and transparency” the reauthorization bill provides. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Committee, says the bill “protects the interests of American farmers and ensures our credibility as a reliable producer of high-quality crops.” Roberts says the bill has wide industry support. The National Association of Wheat Growers voiced its support of the reauthorization, stating, “Our overseas customers value the independent system in place through the Grain Standards Act.”

Farm Groups Support Carbon Market Bill

Farm groups offered their support for a climate bill that would give farmers access to carbon offset markets during a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing Wednesday. The Growing Climate Solutions Act would create a certification program at the Department of Agriculture to help solve technical barriers to participation in carbon credit markets for farmers and forest landowners. The bill would also provide the Agriculture Secretary with an advisory council of agriculture experts, scientists, producers, and others, to ensure the certification program works for all participants. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the bill “builds upon American agriculture’s strong foundation of environmental stewardship and innovation.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew suggested several additions to strengthen the bill, including mechanisms to prevent farm-level consolidation, robust funding for public climate research, and protections for farmers from bad actors or faulty market efforts. The National Pork Producers Council says the bill rewards contributions by pork producers and other sectors of agriculture to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Federal Agents Seize Almost 10 Tons of Illegal Meat at California Port

Officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports it has intercepted 19,500 pounds of prohibited pork, chicken, beef and duck products arriving from China. The products were intercepted at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. According to an official statement, most of the animal products were mixed in boxes of headphones, door locks, kitchenware, LCD tablets, trash bags, swim fins, cell phone covers, plastic cases and household goods. Border protection agriculture specialists identified, examined and seized 12 shipments containing a total of 834 cartons that lacked the required USDA entry documentation. The National Pork Board says that in the first five months of fiscal year 2020, the interception of prohibited meats from China at the LA/Long Beach Seaport has increased 70 percent compared with the same period a year ago. The work by border patrol is critical to maintain secure borders from foreign animal diseases, including African swine fever.

Bayer Announces Roundup and Dicamba Litigation Settlements

Bayer Wednesday announced a series of agreements that will substantially resolve major outstanding Monsanto litigation. The announcement includes a settlement on U.S. Roundup product liability litigation, dicamba drift litigation and PCB water litigation. According to Bayer, the main feature is the U.S. Roundup resolution that will bring closure to approximately 75 percent of the current Roundup litigation involving approximately 125,000 filed and unfiled claims overall. The company will make a payment of $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to resolve the current Roundup litigation, including an allowance expected to cover unresolved claims, and $1.25 billion to support a separate class agreement to address potential future litigation. Bayer also resolved dicamba drift litigation for payment of up to $400 million and most PCB water litigation exposure for payment of approximately $820 million. Bayer CEO Werner Baumann adds, “As we work to put this major litigation behind us, Bayer can set a course for the future and tackle the global challenges we face in both health and nutrition.”

Apple Growers Seek Access to Pandemic Relief

Apple producers in the United States seek access to federal aid included in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Washington State U.S. Representative, Republican Dan Newhouse, led an effort in asking the Department of Agriculture to include apple growers in the CFAP. The group of 25 lawmakers in a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue wrote, “Steep price declines clearly makes apple growers eligible for CFAP payments.” CFAP provides financial assistance to producers who have suffered a five-percent-or-greater price decline or who had losses due to market supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. The losses must have occurred between mid-January and mid-April because of the COVID-19 pandemic to be eligible for CFAP funds. The lawmakers are demanding USDA reverse its decision based on data from the apple industry, showing that apple price losses ranged from 6.5 percent to as much as 24.9 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to USDA data there are approximately 5,000 commercial apple growers in 32 states.

Environmental Working Group Says Farm Nitrate Runoff Increasing

The Environmental Working Group says nitrate pollution from crop fields is getting worse in farm country. Wednesday, the group released a new report and interactive map detailing nitrate levels in water supply systems. EWG obtained water testing data under public records laws between 2003 and 2017. The tests detected elevated levels of nitrate in the tap water supplies of more than 4,000 community water systems in the states with the most widespread contamination, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas and Wisconsin. The data, EWG says, includes tap water supply systems for more than 45 million Americans. Each of the systems was contaminated with nitrate at or above three milligrams per liter, at least once in those 15 years. The Environmental Protection Agency considers three milligrams per liter in groundwater used for drinking water an indication of contamination above naturally occurring levels. The interactive map is available on the Environmental Working Group website, ewg.org.

SOURCE: NAFB News Service