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| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


USDA WASDE Report Released The Department of Agriculture released its latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand report Wednesday. USDA says the corn crop is projected at 15.0 billion bushels, up from last year on higher area and a return to trend yield. The yield projection of 179.5 bushels per acre is based on a weather-adjusted trend assuming normal planting progress and summer weather. The season-average corn price received by producers is projected at $5.70 per bushel, up $1.35 from a year ago when much of the crop was marketed at lower prices. The soybean crop is projected at 4.4 billion bushels, up 270 million from last year on increased harvested area and trend yields. With lower beginning stocks, soybean supplies are projected down three percent. The season-average soybean price is projected at $13.85 per bushel, up $2.60 from last year. The outlook for U.S. wheat is for smaller supplies, higher domestic use, lower exports, and reduced stocks and a season-average farm price of $6.50 per bushel. ************************************************************************************ Study Shows Consumer Attitudes on Cultivated Meat Global research released this week shows consumers are open to pivoting to cultivated meat in the future. The study was released by Aleph Farms, a cultured meat startup based in Israel, with an office in the United States. Their research claims many consumers were not familiar with cultivated meat. Yet, upon being presented with a description, the respondents, on average, imagined that cultivated meat could make up about 40 percent of their future meat intake, with conventional meat constituting around 60 percent. The survey included roughly 2,000 U.S. consumers and 2,000 UK consumers. In addition, the study showed patterns of greater openness to trying such products by younger generational groups: 87-89 percent of Gen Z adults, 84-85 percent of Millennials, 76-77 percent of Gen X, and 70-74 percent of Boomers were at least somewhat open to trying cultivated meat. An Aleph farms representative states the organization's vision "is to provide a better alternative to industrial livestock farming.” ************************************************************************************ Report Offers Farmer Insight on Data Collection and Sharing Several challenges prevent farmers from collecting and sharing data on their production practices. However, there is ample opportunity to empower farmer’s digital transition, according to new research from Farm Journal’s Trust In Food initiative and the Sustainability Consortium. Farm-level production data plays a critical role in conservation and sustainability efforts. Previous research shows only eight percent of food and beverage companies who could report data said they have visibility into on-farm practices. More than half of all respondents, 64 percent, said they do not rely on-farm management information systems exclusively. Almost a third of respondents, 28 percent, said their primary data storage method is paper or another non-digitized method. Of those that do not use digital, only half have considered transitioning to digital. Additionally, 73 percent of respondents do not trust private companies with their data, and 58 percent do not trust the government with it. Conversely, 71 percent do trust their financial institutions with data. ************************************************************************************ April 2021 Farm Tractor Sales Grow Over Already-Large 2020 Gains U.S. farm tractor unit sales continue double-digit growth rate in both the U.S. and Canada, and inventories continue to fall, after a strong month of April. U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 22.7 percent in April compared to 2020, which was the first month of the current sales growth trend, while U.S. combine sales fell 3.2 percent. U.S. tractor sales grew across every segment, with the biggest gains in the 100 plus horsepower segment, up 29.2 percent. For Canada, April monthly tractor and combine sales were positive across all segments, with the four-wheel-drive segment nearly doubling, up 93.3 percent to 201 units sold, while total farm tractor sales were up 72.3 percent. Combine sales also grew 23.1 percent. Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services at the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, says, “Seeing the larger row-crop units leading the way in segment gains shows the pull rising commodity prices have been having on equipment sales.” ************************************************************************************ U.S. and Mexico Keep Organic Trade Open Mexico last week agreed to extend the deadline for U.S. organic exports to be certified to its Organic Products Law. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack met with his counterpart, and they agreed to extend the compliance deadline to December 31, 2021. Through 2021, USDA-certified organic products may continue to be exported, but on January 1, 2022, organic products exported from the U.S. to Mexico must be certified to the Organic Products Law standard. Secretary Vilsack this week commented on the deadline extension, “This is another important step for American agriculture and for maintaining positive bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico, one of our most important export markets.” Mexico’s Organic Products Law and regulations for organic production were implemented in April 2017. The regulations require all organic products sold in Mexico to be certified under the Mexican organic standards or to a standard that has been deemed equivalent under an organic equivalency arrangement. ************************************************************************************ Farmers for Sustainable Food Marks Transformation of Conservation Alliance An alliance created five years ago to support and promote farmers in their conservation efforts has reached a new level. The Dairy Strong Sustainability Alliance this week announced its transformation into Farmers for Sustainable Food. The group is a nonprofit organization that provides resources, advocacy, support and empowerment for farmers who are innovating and demonstrating sustainable farming practices. The transition marks a change to a broader focus, more innovative projects, and a diverse set of partners, according to a news release.” Farmers for Sustainable Food President Todd Doornink says, ”Our focus is on uniting stakeholders to collaborate across organizational lines, inspiring farmers to be leaders of change and empowering our partners to meet their goals.” The organization closely supports six farmer-led watershed conservation groups encompassing 211 farms, nearly 300,000 acres and 212,000 cows, hogs and other livestock. The organization and its partners are also developing on-farm initiatives to test ways of measuring sustainability and documenting the impact of conservation practices, both environmentally and financially.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


Washington Insider: USDA Winding Food Box Program USDA this month is winding down a program launched by the Trump administration in an effort to help farmers that saw markets disappear for their products during the pandemic, CNN is reporting. They launched the Farmers to Families Food Box Program at the height of the pandemic and it delivered nearly 167 million boxes of fresh food to families in need and helped farmers sell their produce at a time when supply chain disruptions forced them to dump milk and destroy their crops. The Biden administration initially had not signaled which way it would go on the program, with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack suddenly signaling the agency would end the effort. But the end of the program is one that will also be a challenge as CNN pointed out it needs to be wound down "in a way that doesn't create more problems for those still in need." Surprisingly, the Food Box program was ended even though it had a lot of support on the Hill, including several Democrats. During Vilsack's confirmation hearing, Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., spoke glowingly about the program and how it provided help to families in need and provided them access to nutritious and fresh foods. Another Democrat, Sen. Corey Booker, D-N.J., the chairman of the Senate nutrition subcommittee, is calling on the government to keep a version of the food box program permanent as a way to make sure that needy families are able to get access to fresh fruits and vegetables. The Food Box program was not without its issues. USDA bypassed normal food aid channels in a bid to try and get the aid out quicker and in a more-regional way. Their choice of a firm in Texas to handle a portion of the program that had no experience in food delivery raised more than a few complaints, but their participation in the program was short-lived. The Trump administration injected funds into the program when they were nearly exhausted and warded off ending the program. When food deliveries began to dry up at one point, several stories appeared about recipients and those delivering the food were anxious for it to continue. CNN reported that the Capital Area Food Bank based in Washington, DC, helped deliver more than 1 million of the food boxes to families, making up nearly one-third of the meals it provided during the pandemic. They are among those hoping it will continue. "For our clients, the recovery is a long and slow one," said Radha Muthiah, Capital Area Food Bank's president and CEO. "The most important thing is to provide good, nutritious food for them and we certainly still need USDA as a partner." But politics also came to play in the program. CNN pointed out that in the run-up to the election, former President Donald Trump required that the boxes include a letter from him touting the benefit. While critics argued that it should have deployed the $5 billion spent in the program via the usual nutrition programs, the effort focused on fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy and meat and put it all into one box. In a statement, the USDA said the Food Box program was meant to be a temporary effort. "It served that purpose, although with serious challenges, and now we must make sure people are getting access to food through other, more reliable channels," USDA said. But even in ending the program, Vilsack hinted that it may not be totally dead. Rather, he suggested that USDA would possibly take the "best of" the Food Box effort and incorporate it into existing program. So we will see. The expectation of many had been that the program would see at the very least a new name and some structural changes. But few expected to see it jettisoned as a whole, especially with bipartisan support for an effort launched as an emergency action that became very popular. The Food Box program may be gone by name, but expectations are that remnants will still be present. It is a situation which bears watching, especially one that creates a closer link between farmers and consumers, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


USDA Reopens Comment Period On Origins Of Livestock Rule For Dairy Under Organic Regs USDA is reopening the comment period for 60 days on a rule published April 28, 2015, relative to the origin of livestock regarding dairy cattle under USDA's organic regulations. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is reopening the comment period "to give all interested parties an opportunity to comment on whether AMS should prohibit the movement of transitioned cows in organic dairy production as part of the final rule." Comments are due July 12, according to the notice in the May 12 Federal Register. USDA initially reopened the comment period on the proposed rule October 1, 2019, receiving around 750 comments at that point. The reopening of the comment period now is to get views on two additional issues on the movement of transitioned animals and the updated economic analysis of the proposed rule.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


Canada Firmly Opposes Any US Attempt To Resurrect COOL Kristen Hillman, Canada's ambassador to the U.S., said Tuesday the country would strongly oppose any new proposals from the U.S. to resurrect mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL) for beef and pork. "We went through this in 2013, 2014 and 2015 and we are very firmly of the view that mandatory country of origin labeling is inappropriate," Hillman said during a Washington Ag Roundtable webinar. "That's an issue that has been fully litigated and I wouldn't want to see us go back to that." Both Canada and Mexico challenge the last U.S. COOL attempt and won a battle at the World Trade Organization. The U.S. appealed and lost before repealing it under threat of $1.4 billion in retaliatory tariffs on a list of U.S. products. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, long an opponent of mandatory COOL, raised the issue last week with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims, the U.S. producer price index and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventory is due out at 9:30 a.m. Traders continue to watch the latest weather forecasts and check for any export news. Weather Dry conditions will cover all primary crop areas Thursday. A warming trend is also in store which will favor planting and early crop development. Eastern Midwest progress will lag due to cooler conditions including some frost and freeze issues. Dry conditions remain stressful in drought areas of the northern Midwest, northern and southwestern Plains, Northwest, and Canadian Prairies. Forecast maps indicate a slow-moving storm system during the first half of next week bringing possibly significant precipitation to central and southern crop areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


12 States Launch Farm Stress Resource Center Midwestern farmers, ranchers, and agricultural workers have direct access to a new tool to help them manage stress, anxiety, depression, or substance issues. A new website, www.FarmStress.org, is designed to help provide the agricultural community with resources and support provided through the North Central Farm and Ranch Assistance Center. “May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s an opportune time to unveil this website that will serve as a clearinghouse for stress and mental health resources for anyone experiencing stress related to the many challenges of farming,” says Josie Rudolphi (Roo-DOLL-fee) of the University of Illinois. The North Central Farm and Ranch Assistance Center is a 12-state collaborative based at the University of Illinois and works to expand access to and knowledge of mental health resources. The website shares available resources and research in a convenient, easy to access location. It also has resources by state and topic, including crisis numbers, telephone hotlines, and training resources. Rudolphi wants to encourage people in the agricultural community to bookmark the site for future reference on the many challenges that they, their families, employees, and clients face in agriculture. ********************************************************************************************** Agriculture Linked to U.S. Air Pollution Deaths Air pollution is the largest environmental mortality risk in the U.S. The National Academy of Sciences says air pollution is responsible for 100,000 premature deaths every year, and one-fifth of those deaths are linked to agriculture. Scientists from five universities noted in the study that air quality is largely ignored in discussions on the health and environmental impacts of food. “Agricultural production in the U.S. results in 17,900 annual air quality-related deaths, 15,900 of which are from food production,” the researchers say. “Of those, 80 percent are attributable to animal-based foods, both directly from animal production and indirectly from growing animal feed.” The study authors also say that dietary shifts toward more plant-based foods that maintain protein content and other nutritional needs could reduce agricultural air quality-related mortality by 68 percent to 83 percent. Agriculture groups like the National Pork Producers Council and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association told the Washington Post that they consider the report’s data and methodology flawed. ********************************************************************************************** Growth Energy on the Colonial Pipeline Incident Growth Energy sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the cyberattack against the Colonial Pipeline. The letter calls for the officials to immediately reduce restrictions on higher ethanol-blended fuels as relief for resulting supply disruptions and rising gas prices. “E15 is now sold at nearly 2,400 locations across the country, including several hundred locations in the Southeast, where the impact of the Colonial is most felt,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “By immediately removing remaining regulatory hurdles and providing greater access to E15, you can help keep fuel prices in check for American consumers and ease concerns about the fuel supply.” The organization asked the officials to make E15 broadly available at all fuel terminals in areas impacted by related fuel shortages. They also want the EPA to finalize the proposed rule that would broaden the availability of existing infrastructure for use with E15 and related labeling concerns. “We also urge you to remove unnecessary misfuelling requirements, including the restrictions on the use of E15 in shared fueling hoses with 10 percent blended fuel and related fuel sampling requirements,” Skor adds. “Finally, we strongly encourage the government to strengthen its use of higher ethanol blends such as E85 in its current flex-fuel fleet.” ********************************************************************************************** ADM Building First Soy Processing Plant in North Dakota ADM says it will build the first-ever dedicated soybean crushing plant and refinery in North Dakota. The goal of the new facility is to meet the fast-growing demand from food, feed, industrial, and biofuel customers, including renewable diesel producers. It will be in Spiritwood, North Dakota, with the approximately $350 million crush and refining complex to feature state-of-the-art automation technology and have the capacity to process 150,000 bushels of soybeans a day. The company is putting the facility in the middle of a major soybean-producing area, which means ADM’s logistics network will enable the facility to access both domestic and global markets for soybean oil. The new plant will be completed before the 2023 harvest. “This project allows us to partner with North Dakota farmers to further advance the role of ag in addressing climate change through the production of low carbon feedstocks for products like renewable diesel,” says Greg Morris, ADM’s President of Ag Services and Oilseeds Business. North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum says, “This plant is a gamechanger for North Dakota farmers, adding value and expanding the market for this important crop closer to home while also supporting the production of products like renewable green diesel right here in the state.” ********************************************************************************************** Drought Emergency Declared in 41 California Counties California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an expanded “drought emergency proclamation” for 41 of the state’s 58 counties. Reuters says he cited above-average temperatures and dry conditions in April and May. Newsom directed the state water board to consider modifying the requirements for reservoir releases and other conservation measures. In addition, the declaration gives California officials flexibility in regulatory requirements to mitigate drought impacts, which Newsom attributed in part to climate change. “We’re working with local officials and other partners to protect public health and safety and the environment and call on all residents to help meet the challenge by stepping up efforts to save water,” Newsom says. The move was criticized by a wildlife protection group called Save California Salmon, which accuses Newsom of favoring big agricultural interests. A statement from the groups says, “California’s antiquated water rights system leaves cities and the environment high and dry while almonds get clean water. Poor water management during the last drought led to 90 percent of salmon dying, and toxic algae bloom in cities’ water supplies.” *********************************************************************************************** Global Pork Production Slowed by Herd Health and Supply Issues Rabobank says hog prices are sharply higher in many markets worldwide as processors are scrambling to find adequate supplies. Higher disease losses in key growing regions, along with the lagging impact of industry liquidation brought on by COVID-19, have limited available hog supplies. “African Swine Fever has proven harder to manage than initially expected in some regions, slowing herd rebuilding efforts in Asia and shifting trade expectations for the rest of the world,” says Christine McCracken, Senior Analyst for Animal Protein at Rabobank. Higher disease-related losses in parts of North America are also contributing to the supply shortfall in the U.S. and Mexico. The re-emergence of Classical Swine Fever in Japan and Brazil is currently expected to have a limited impact on production but still brings new risk to the markets. “We expect a gradual recovery in the herd, yet higher costs of raising animals and demand uncertainty are expected to moderate the pace of growth,” McCracken says. Higher costs in raising hogs are contributing to production slowdowns in certain regions, as the price of feed is up 35 percent year over year. Lower production expectations have left the market short of pork, just as demand is getting stronger.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Mexico to Allow US Organic Products in Through 2021 Trade issues between the U.S. and Mexico have emerged the past week, with the AFL-CIO filing a case under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) on what they say are labor abuses by an auto-parts factory in Mexico. The U.S. has also pushed Mexico to remove its restrictions on imports of U.S. potatoes, but that dispute remains in the hands of the Mexican court system. That one is expected to result in Mexico allowing in U.S. potatoes, but so far that resolution has not yet been put in place. But there has been some action on the part of Mexico that will at least temporarily remove some uncertainty on the trade front in Mexico agreeing to extend an allowance for U.S. organic products to come into Mexico. Mexico put in place its Organic Products Law which would require all organic products sold in Mexico to be certified under Mexican organic standards. Or the rules also would allow those products to be sold if they came from a country where Mexico deems the standards to be equivalent of their rules. Organic products from Mexico have to be certified under USDA organic regulations, with around 24 accredited certifiers in Mexico and more than 1,600 operations in Mexico that have been deemed USDA certified. But therein lies the rub. U.S. products that are USDA certified can be exported into Mexico, but the two sides have not yet reached agreement on whether that USDA certification meets the standards laid out in Mexico. The two sides have been working on that issue for quite some time. According to USDA's Agriculture Marketing Service, "The U.S. and Mexico hope to sign an arrangement to allow USDA-certified product to continue to be sold in Mexico under organic equivalency arrangement." Mexico has put in place a deadline of June 26, 2021, for U.S. products to be certified under its organics law (LPO). Mexico held a seminar on the matter last month. But USDA on Tuesday announced that Mexico has agreed to let those USDA certified organic products enter the country through Dec. 31. "I am pleased to report that on May 7, 2021, Mexico's Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) extended the deadline for U.S. organic exports to be certified to its Organic Products Law (LPO)." USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced. "This is a request that I made directly to Mexico's Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development Victor Villalobos and am grateful that he extended the compliance deadline to Dec. 31, 2021." The U.S. will continue its efforts work with U.S. organic exporters to assist in transitioning to LPO compliance, Vilsack said, "and will continue to provide updates as necessary." In 2017, U.S. exports of selected organic products to Mexico totaled more than $133 million, while U.S. organic imports from Mexico during that same time topped $278 million. The USDA and Mexico's National Service for Animal and Plant Health, Food Safety and Quality (SENASICA) are evaluating each other's systems to determine whether an organic equivalency arrangement could be established between the U.S. and Mexico. While pushing back the deadline is certainly welcome, it still does not resolve the issue that the Mexican regulations could pose. And it underscores that even close trading partners like the U.S. and Mexico do not always see eye to eye on trade and regulatory matters. So we will see. Clearly for organic products this is at least provides some breathing room. And it provides still-more time for the two sides to work out some kind of agreement. But moving the deadline back still does not resolve the issues, nor does the situation address other trade matters between the two sides on ag products. These are developments that producers beyond organic growers should monitor closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


CFAP 2 Payouts Rise Slightly in Latest Week Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) increased to $13.59 billion as of May 9, up from $13.55 billion the prior week. Totals include $6.25 billion in acreage-based payments, $3.44 billion for livestock, $2.63 billion for sales commodities, $1.21 billion for dairy and $58.31 million for eggs/broilers. Payments under CFAP 1 payments were little changed at $10.57 billion. There still is little information available about payments under the CFAP Additional Assistance effort even though USDA has said they are processing payments for "certain applications" filed under that effort.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


COOL On List Of Issues NCBA Raised With USTR Tai National Cattlemen's Beef Association CEO Colin Woodall met with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on Friday (May 7) to "discuss ways to resolve issues surrounding country of origin labeling and agriculture's contributions to meeting the administration's sustainability and environmental goals," according to a readout of the virtual meeting released by the Tai's office. Tai also "committed to monitoring Chinese compliance with the structural commitments of the U.S.-China Economic and Trade Agreement," and the two agreed to continue a dialogue in the future. The issue of country of origin labeling (COOL) has continued to be talked about as the Biden administration has begun its work, something that observers in Canada and Mexico have been following closely. The U.S. removed mandatory COOL from law after losing a case at the WTO and Canada still has the authority to impose $1 billion in retaliation should mandatory COOL be brought back in.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will report on consumer prices at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday with ramifications for interest rates and the U.S. dollar. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly inventory report, including ethanol production. USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports are due out at 11 a.m. CDT, offering new-crop estimates, as well as old. The U.S. Treasury reports on the April budget at 1 p.m. Weather Wednesday will be dry and very cool to cold in the Midwest. Frost and freeze advisories cover much of the region early. The pattern shows a warming trend beginning during the day to more seasonal values. Precipitation will focus on the Gulf Coast and Southeast with a flash flood threat in the lower Delta. Dryness and drought concern continue in the northwestern Midwest, Northern Plains and throughout the western and northwestern U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


Canadian National Railway Purchasing 1,000 Grain Cars Canadian National Railway has placed an order for 1,000 new generation, high-capacity grain hopper cars. The new railcars, to be built in Mexico, will help meet the growing needs of North American grain farmers and the demands of grain customers. The order is part of a larger program to build and renew a fleet of 6,000 hopper railcars over the next three years. CN recently made a formal offer to acquire Kansas City Southern. The combination would extend the span of CN’s network from Canada and the U.S. into Mexico, making it the first railroad to link North America’s three national economies. CN President and CEO JJ Ruest states the railcars "will help move more grain across the CN rail network, which continues to make CN the embodiment of a true USMCA railroad.” The railway also noted that support for its Kansas City Southern proposal is expanding, with more letters of support being submitted to the Surface Transportation Board. ************************************************************************************ Vilsack Tours Colorado Wildfire Recovery Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited Colorado Friday, surveying wildfire recovery efforts. Joined by Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado, and others, Vilsack visited two sites in the Cameron Peak Fire area, the largest fire in Colorado history, burning 208,913 acres. After, the group held a roundtable discussion on climate change mitigation and adaptation, drought, conservation and soil health, the agricultural workforce, and other issues. Senator Bennet says, “We have to protect our forests and invest in our watersheds —these are national assets. Secretary Vilsack understands that, and I'm glad he was here to see Colorado’s efforts.” Vilsack continued his trip Monday, focusing on ensuring children have access to safe and healthy food with a visit to a school in Aurora. USDA says the Biden Administration is committed to ending child hunger and has taken steps to expand healthy and free school meals. As a result, hunger has fallen by 43 percent since December thanks, in part, to these investments. ************************************************************************************ Impossible Foods Gains School Nutrition Label Impossible Foods recently secured Child Nutrition Labels, clearing a path towards entering the K-12 market this fall. Child Nutrition Labels are voluntary food crediting statements authorized by the Department of Agriculture. The labels make it easier for schools participating in federal Child Nutrition Programs to determine how much a particular food contributes to federal meal pattern requirements for nutritionally balanced meals for children each school day. With the Child Nutrition labels secured, Impossible Foods is kicking off K-12 pilot programs this month with school districts across the United States. Participating schools are using the product in dishes ranging from Impossible Street Tacos to Impossible Frito Pie, to Spaghetti with Impossible Meat Sauce. School district pilot participants also surveyed kids after using the Impossible items to gauge their interests. Jessica Appelgren, Vice President of Communications at Impossible Foods, says, “Our CN Label launch is just the beginning of Impossible Foods engaging this next crucial generation.” ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Launches New Consumer Campaign Growth Energy last week launched a new consumer campaign to encourage drivers to choose biofuels. During the organization’s 12th Annual Executive Leadership Conference, Growth Energy announced the effort that seeks to raise awareness about biofuels’ positive environmental benefits. Through a series of targeted digital content, advertising, and digital media, the Get Biofuel campaign aligns biofuel benefits to an empowerment message titled “Fuel Beyond.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “Our industry’s passion for showcasing the benefits of biofuels is unparalleled, and I’m thrilled to unveil this new initiative.” The website, getbiofuel.com, outlines the benefits of biofuels and encourages drivers to choose biofuel blends at the pump. The website tells consumers biofuel cuts greenhouse gas emissions by 46 percent. The pilot campaign for the initiative launched on Earth Day, April 22, 2021, in the Raleigh, North Carolina and Salt Lake City, Utah media markets, and is slated to expand nationally in fall 2021. ************************************************************************************ USDA: Develop a Food Safety Plan for Hurricane Season The Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service urges residents along coastal areas to have a hurricane food safety plan. USDA says when a hurricane hits, prolonged power outages and flood damage are two of the biggest risks to food. The recommendations including buying ice packs and coolers days before a hurricane arrives, and freezing containers of water to make ice. Additionally, USDA says to use an appliance thermometer to determine the safety of your perishable foods. Meat, poultry, fish and egg products must be kept at 40 Fahrenheit or below and frozen food at zero degrees or below. Illness-causing bacteria grow in temperatures between 40 and 140 Fahrenheit. Bacteria that develop at these temperatures generally do not alter in a noticeable way. During a power outage, a refrigerator will keep food safe for up to four hours, and a full freezer will hold temperatures for 48 hours or 24 hours if half full. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Veteran Coalition Issues Grants to Small Farmers The Farmer Veteran Coalition announced grants last week to support veterans in their early years of farming and ranching. More than 100 farmers are being awarded equipment thanks to the Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund. FVC Executive Director Jeanette Lombardo says, “We directly purchase a piece of equipment the farmer has identified as being critical.” Over 11 years, more than 700 veterans have benefitted with $3.5 million in equipment distributed. The 2021 class includes representatives in nearly 40 states and 47 females. Equipment will soon be delivered to farms starting now and into the summer. Grantees anxiously await greenhouses and grow tents, walk-in coolers and cold storage units, milking systems, water filtrations, and honey extractors. Other unique requests include a mushroom substrate steamer and a lavender bud stripper. Funding is made possible through sponsored support. Some of this year's grantees have been mentored by other farmer veterans throughout their careers, and many intend to hire veterans as they expand their own businesses.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US Labor Brings First USMCA Challenge The U.S. labor union AFL-CIO has filed a complaint against a Mexican auto-parts factory over working conditions at the plant that is just across the border from Brownsville, Texas. The Tridonex plant in Matamoros is facing the first complaint brought under provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The groups are utilizing what is called a rapid-response mechanism that was put into place as part of the USMCA deal that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). "USMCA requires Mexico to end the reign of protection unions and their corrupt deals with employers," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. The AFL-CIO said workers at the plant had been "harassed and fired over their efforts to organize with an independent union, SNITIS, in place of a company-controlled union," according to the New York Times. Susana Prieto Terrazas is a Mexican labor lawyer and leader of SNITIS and was jailed last year. Prieto was only released after she agreed to internal exile in another Mexican state and was banned from appearing in labor court. Under USMCA, the Times reported that Mexico was required to make major changes to its labor system which the paper said included actions like putting "sham collective bargaining agreements known as protection contracts" in place, actions which lock in low wages. Under the rapid-response system that was put in place by USMCA, complaints about labor violations can be brought against an individual factory and penalties can be applied to that factory. Under USMCA, Mexico was pushed to improve labor conditions and pay for workers in Mexico, something which backers of the provisions said would aid American workers as it would not encourage companies to shift operations to Mexico with cheaper labor. Tridonex is a subsidiary of U.S.-based Cardone Industries, controlled by Canadian-based Brookfield Asset Management. Cardone moved its brakes division to Mexico in 2016 and laid off some 1,300 workers in Philadelphia, the Times noted. Agriculture is among the industries that have been eyeing the USMCA for action, with an initial complaint filed against Canada over their dairy import actions and implementation of provisions in USMCA that would grant the U.S. more access to the Canadian market. That case is still pending. Under USMCA, the dispute settlement processes put in place have a relatively short timeline for resolution. So neither the labor complaint nor the dairy complaint are expected to become protracted actions that take months or even years to resolve. Indeed, the rapid-response mechanism on labor was billed in a fact sheet for the agreement as "providing for monitoring and expedited enforcement of labor rights to ensure effective implementation of Mexico's landmark labor reform at particular facilities while respecting sovereignty and due process." And from the U.S. side, one of those intimately familiar with those provisions is none other than U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. She was chief counsel for the House Ways and Means Committee when the Trump administration worked with Congress to put together the implementing language for USMCA. And, Tai has made clear that U.S. trade policy under the Biden administration will be more worker oriented. So we shall see. The administration now has two complaints to manage under USCMA even though they are disparate issues--labor and dairy. Still, these represent some of the initial examples of how the new trade deal will run. Ag interests should follow both of these cases closely as they unfold, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


Friction Between Food Suppliers and Retailers Increasing Big buyers including Walmart and Sysco are starting to fine suppliers over late food deliveries or incomplete orders, as tight labor conditions, supply constraints and higher freight costs course through distribution channels, the Wall Street Journal reported. The paper said that penalties revive programs that were suspended during the pandemic, when sudden upheaval in consumer buying patterns triggered widespread supply shortages. Retailers say they are trying to keep shelves stocked in a rebounding U.S. economy, but suppliers like Pillsbury owner Hometown Food say their supply chains are still challenged by soaring raw materials costs and tight transportation capacity. The higher costs are filtering through to consumers. A new reading on inflation at the consumer level will arrive this week along with an update on wholesale inflation levels.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


Bipartisan Carbon Tax Bill Would Replace Federal Fuel Taxes A bipartisan bill in the House would tax carbon emissions, send 70% of the revenue to the Highway Trust Fund and eliminate the federal gas tax. According to text obtained by CQ Roll Call, the bill would levy a $35 per-metric-ton tax on fossil fuels--specifically coal, oil and gas--a charge that would begin in 2023 and increase by 5% every year, indexed to inflation. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa., and Salud Carbajal, D-Calif., introduced the bill in the previous Congress. The bill's reintroduction Friday comes as some conservative-leaning industry groups have warmed to the prospect of pricing carbon emissions while elected GOP politicians continue to drift away from the concept. The measure calls for the remaining 30% be spread across other projects. The bill would also extend tax credits under Treasury's so-called 45Q program for carbon-capture technology, a method of trapping emissions before they enter the atmosphere, from 2026 to 2028.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no official reports on Tuesday's docket, but traders will be watching the latest weather forecasts and any for any news of export sales or grain imports into the U.S. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for much of the Southern Plains through the Delta Tuesday. The rain offers moisture benefit for wheat and cotton. Some flash flooding is also likely in the lower Delta. Other crop areas will be dry with frost and freeze potential early morning in the northern Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


China Trade with U.S., Australia, Growing Despite Tensions Chinese exports hit higher numbers in April than anticipated as global demand for the country’s goods remained high despite other countries’ dealing with coronavirus recovery. A CNBC report says Chinese exports to the U.S. rose 31 percent in April, compared to a year ago, to $43.05 billion, while imports from the U.S. rose 52 percent to $13.94 billion. China’s trade with its major partners grew despite tensions. China and the U.S. levied tariffs on each other worth billions during the trade war with the Trump Administration. Tensions between China and Australia took a wrong turn late last week as Beijing suspended further high-level economic negotiations between the two countries. Economist Joseph Capurso of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia says the improvement in trade between the U.S. and China is due to President Biden’s fiscal stimulus. “The recovery in U.S.-China trade has reversed much of the trade war slump, even though few restrictions on trade have actually gotten removed,” he says. “China has also bought Australian products despite restrictions, most of which are on farm goods.” Chinese imports from Australia rose 49 percent to $40 billion, while imports jumped 43 percent to $26.79 billion. ********************************************************************************************** Coalition Asks Tai to Consider Rejoining Pacific Trade Group A bipartisan coalition of House and Senate members sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Hagstrom Report says the letter points out that President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the agreement was wrong and asks her to investigate the “pros and cons of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which was signed by 11 other TPP countries in 2018 without the U.S.” The legislators say in the letter that “our current trade policy in the Asia-Pacific region needs a strategic direction that includes robust engagement with our allies in the region, similar to what was envisioned by the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership.” They also say that withdrawing from the trade agreement was a missed opportunity to strengthen U.S. leadership in the global economy and reinforce America’s commitment to a rules-based system for international trade. “The stakes are exceptionally high,” the letter continues. “The region is home to China, one of America’s biggest rivals, whose values and interests are much different from our own.” They say that China’s trade practices have violated international rules and the fundamental principles of fairness, causing harm to U.S. businesses and workers. ********************************************************************************************** PLC Seeks Proposals to Address Public Lands Issues The Public Lands Council has released a Request for Proposals on subjects related to the public lands ranching industry, economic viability, natural resource stewardship, and other issues. Each year, the PLC Board of Directors identifies priority areas that will help address scientific and practical challenges that affect cattle and sheep producers across the West. The PLC board identified several issues for consideration, including carbon storage. They want to know how livestock grazing interacts with carbon storage, organic matter volume, and other environmental metrics on public lands. Another topic is livestock and wildlife, with the board wanting to know if there are demonstratable interactions between public lands grazing and wildlife habitat or migration patterns. They also are looking for input on multiple-use challenges and education for public lands, as well as wildfire challenges and how grazing affects the development of fires. The PLC awards grants for the Fiscal Year 2022 that will help support projects designed to answer some of these questions and solve some problems when it comes to public land grazing. For more information, go to www.publiclandscouncil.org. ********************************************************************************************** AEM Talks Record-High Equipment Sales Curt Blades, the Senior Vice President of Ag Services with the Association of Equipment Manufacturers, says, “We’re operating in a very interesting market right now.” In the first quarter of 2021, total farm tractor unit sales are up more than 50 percent in the U.S. and nearly 60 percent in Canada. Those numbers come from the recent AEM Ag Tractor Combine Report that comes out every month. “For the last 12 months, we’ve seen a dramatic rise in the under-40 horsepower, or small tractor sales in North America, both the U.S. and Canada,” he says. “This is due largely to a lot of the industries that have done well during COVID-19, like luxury items or things that have to do with the home.” Small tractors fall into that category. Small tractor sales are spiking as they head to suburbs with larger lots to help homeowners haul rocks and dirt, work around trees, and improve their property. Later in 2020, larger row-crop and articulated four-wheel-drive tractors also enjoyed rising sales numbers. Over the last five years, the average age of the ag fleet grew in both the U.S. and Canada. As commodity prices rose and trade difficulties eased, not only is the replacement market doing well, but farmers are upgrading their operations with newer technology. *********************************************************************************************** April Food Price Index Up 30 Percent Over Last year The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index is a measure of the monthly change in international prices of a basket of food commodities. The index shows a significant price increase for food compared to 2020. The newest Food Price Index averaged 120.9 points in April, two percent higher than March and almost 31 percent higher than the same point last year. It’s the eleventh-consecutive monthly rise in the value of the index, which has reached its highest level since May 2014. The April rise was led by strong increases in the prices of sugar, followed by oils, meats, dairy, and cereals. The FAO Sugar Price Index averaged 100 points in April, four percent higher than March and almost 60 percent higher than the same month last year. Another big jump took place in the Dairy Price Index, which averaged 118.9 points in April, up two percent from March, the eleventh-straight month of increases. The dairy index is also 24 percent higher than the same time in 2020. ********************************************************************************************** FFA Continues to Support Next Generation’s Leaders FFA awarded more than $1.5 million in scholarships to 974 recipients with the help of more than 300 sponsors and donors. The FFA scholarships were available to students pursuing two-year or four-year degrees, or vocational certification, or specialized training programs. The average recipient had a GPA of 3.7 on a 4.0 scale. This year is the 37th year for the scholarship program, which began in 1984 with only 16 scholarships. Since then, more than $50 million have gotten awarded in scholarship funds through the National FFA Organization. The selection process considers the whole student, including FFA involvement, work experience, supervised agricultural experiences, community service, leadership skills, academic performance, and financial need. “We know that our FFA members are the next generation of leaders who will change the world,” says Michele Sullivan, senior manager of local engagement. “These scholarships are just one more way to support them on the next steps in their educational journeys.” More information is available at www.FFA.org. New information on the 2022 FFA Scholarships will be released on November 1.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Cyberattack Shuts Down Key Pipeline Politico is reporting that the pipeline system that feeds much of U.S. East Coast fuel supplies was shut down Friday as a cyberattack hit the Colonial Pipeline. The company said on Sunday it had no estimate on when it could restart the 5,500-mile pipeline that it shut Friday after a cyberattack. The pipeline supplies about 45% of the gasoline and diesel that is consumed on the U.S. East Coast from the hub of refineries near Houston. It remains offline for now, the company said in a statement, though it restarted some smaller lines that run off the main arteries. Prices for wholesale gasoline in the financial futures market jumped as much as 4% in Sunday evening trading to their highest level since 2018, the report said. Colonial also confirmed that hackers used ransomware to shut down its internal computer business networks. That prompted the company to shut down the systems that control the pipeline as a precaution, and it has brought in third-party cybersecurity firms and is trying to restore its IT system, the Georgia-based company said, according to Politico. "It's an all-hands-on-deck effort right now," Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said of the government's response during a Sunday television interview. "And we are working closely with the company, state and local officials to, you know, make sure that they get back up to normal operations as quickly as possible and there aren't disruptions in supply." The trade group American Petroleum Institute said it was closely monitoring the pipeline situation and that cybersecurity is a top priority for the energy industry. The Department of Transportation issued waivers on Sunday allowing fuel truck drivers in 17 states to work additional hours to try and supply products. And several media outlets reported that a Russian group has links to the situation with CNN reporting that the Russian group "Darkside" is believed to be responsible for the ransomware attack. The situation has exposed one of the biggest fears that is nearly unspoken -- the U.S. energy sector is one of the biggest potential targets for cyberattacks. The situation hinges on how long the pipeline stats shuttered. And with the Memorial Day holiday ahead and U.S. drivers likely champing at the bit to break free of the pandemic even for a few hours, the cost of such an activity could be key. While the situation unfolded Friday, there was little news that emerged on the situation until Saturday when major newswires were covering the matter. So we shall see. The U.S. energy infrastructure is one that farmers also depend on. And with planting activity still ahead in some areas of the country, costs that are rising for fuel could become a factor that farmers will have to deal with in and that could create additional turbulence for the sector just at a time when prices were rising for their products.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


Beyond Meat Reports Loss on Slower Restaurant Sales Beyond Meat reported a bigger loss in quarterly earnings than expected, sending shares in the company down 7% after the report. The company blamed sluggish sales to restaurants, increased freight and storage costs that dented the earnings picture. The company said slow sales had built up supplies of pea protein and that raised warehousing costs. The firm reported net revenue of $108.2 million in their first quarter that ended April 3, below expectations it would be nearly $114 million. They registered a net loss of $26.8 million compared with a profit of $1.8 million one year ago.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


House Democrats Join Those Concerned About Stepped-up Basis The latest pushback from President Joe Biden's tax plans come from 13 House Democrats via a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and other House Democratic leaders asking for an exemption for family farms from the stepped-up in basis tax hit. "The requirement to recognize capital gains at death runs the risk of forcing farms and ranches to sell part, or all, of a farm that may have been passed down for several generations in order to pay the tax burden," wrote the Democrats, who include some that are viewed as potentially being vulnerable incumbents. According to the Penn Wharton Budget Model, estimates that raising the top capital-gains tax rate to 43.4% would shrink federal revenue by $33 billion over 10 years, a smaller hit than the Tax Foundation's projected loss of $124 billion. To compensate, the Biden administration has proposed a $1 million cap on the "step-up in basis," which excludes unrealized gains from taxation at death. The Wall Street Journal labeled it a "backdoor death tax," and Penn Wharton estimates the change would raise up to $113 billion over a decade. USDA pledged that the Biden plan included exempting agriculture from the capital gains/stepped up basis, but clearly those assurances are not enough for the Democratic lawmakers penning the letter to leaders. It also underscores the Biden tax plan faces potential issues ahead relative to having enough support. Based on history, the farm family carveout is likely the first of many requests ahead.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets After six consecutive weeks of higher corn prices, traders will keep watch over the latest weather forecasts and perk up at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has another corn sale from China to report. USDA's weekly grain export inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store Monday for the southwestern and far Southern Plains along with the lower Delta. We'll also see a few light showers in portions of the northern Midwest and Southeast. Other primary crop areas will be dry. The southwestern Plains rainfall is timely and beneficial for developing winter wheat. During the past weekend, beneficial moderate to locally heavy rain was also noted in portions of the dry Northern Plains and the western Midwest. Temperatures stay cool one more day before trending to more seasonal ranges.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


Biden Administration Announces America the Beautiful Proposal The Biden administration Thursday announced its so-called 30x30 plan, renamed America the Beautiful proposal. The plan seeks to collaboratively work to conserve and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife that support and sustain the nation. The recommendation report outlines a locally-led and voluntary nationwide conservation goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The proposal outlines eight principles that should guide the nationwide effort, including a pursuit of collaborative approaches; a commitment to supporting the voluntary conservation efforts of farmers, ranchers, and fishers; and honoring of Tribal sovereignty and private property rights. The American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall responded, stating AFBF appreciates the report address the organization's concerns and includes input from agriculture. However, Duvall adds, “The report is a philosophical document that emphasizes important principles such as incentive-based voluntary conservation, protecting personal and property rights and continued ranching on public lands, but it lacks specifics.” ************************************************************************************ Record-Breaking Performance for U.S. Beef and Pork Exports in March U.S. red meat exports ended the first quarter on a high note. The U.S. Meat Export Federation reports March beef and pork exports each posted the highest monthly value on record. Pork exports and shipments of beef muscle cuts also set new volume records in March. Beef exports totaled 124,800 metric tons in March, up eight percent from a year ago. Export value broke the $800 million mark for the first time at $801.9 million, up 14 percent year-over-year. March highlights for U.S. beef included record exports to China, Honduras and the Philippines and strong results in South Korea, Chile and Colombia. March pork exports were record-large at 294,700 metric tons, up one percent from last year's strong total, and set a new value record at $794.9 million, up four percent. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom says, "It's very gratifying to see such an outstanding breakout month for U.S. beef and pork exports.” ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Seek Level Playing Field for U.S. Pork Producers in Vietnam More than 70 U.S. lawmakers sent a letter this week to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai seeking her support for enhanced Vietnamese market access for U.S. pork. Vietnam represents a tremendous opportunity for U.S. pork exports. National Pork Producers Council President Jen Sorenson says, “Vietnam represents a significant opportunity for U.S. hog farmers, yet we’re hamstrung by unjustified tariff and non-tariff barriers.” Vietnam’s domestic pork production industry is struggling with African swine fever, yet unwarranted tariff and non-tariff barriers restrict the United States from supplying this major pork-consuming nation with pork. The letter states, “Domestic pork producers need a level playing field to compete in this critical market, particularly after being devastated by trade retaliation and the global pandemic.” Last year, Vietnam took an initial step forward in addressing the U.S. pork tariff disadvantage when, from July-December 2020, it temporarily reduced its Most Favored Nation tariff rates from 15 percent to ten percent for frozen U.S. pork products. ************************************************************************************ Ag Group Urge Biden Administration to Appeal Chlorpyrifos Court Decision A coalition of agriculture groups urge the Biden administration to appeal a circuit court decision related to chlorpyrifos (Klohr-PEER-uh-fohs). The court ruling requires the Environmental Protection Agency to either write a new rule to allow for the safe use of chlorpyrifos or halt all food residue tolerances of the insecticide, which would effectively ban its use. The Ag Retailers Association along with dozens of agriculture groups oppose the court ruling because “it will set a bad precedent for EPA's registration review process for all agricultural chemicals.” The groups say the ruling sets the precedent of allowing petitioners and the federal courts to impose their decision-making process in reviewing the science over EPA's long-standing regulatory authority as established by Congress. The letter states, “We urge EPA to pursue all available legal review avenues to protect the science-based and risk-based regulatory process.” Chlorpyrifos is a widely used pesticide for use on crops, livestock and buildings to control insects and worms. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Breakthrough for ASF Vaccine Candidate The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced that an African Swine Fever Virus vaccine candidate has been adapted to grow in a cell line. The announcement means those involved in vaccine production will no longer have to rely on live pigs and fresh cells for vaccine production. The discovery overcomes one of the major challenges for manufacturing of an African Swine Fever Virus vaccine. The newly developed vaccine, grown in a continuous cell line — which means immortalized cells that divide continuously or otherwise indefinitely — has the same characteristics as the original vaccine produced with fresh swine cells. USDA Agricultural Research Service scientist Manuel Broca says, “This opens the door for large-scale vaccine production.” No commercial vaccines are currently available to prevent the virus from spreading. There have not been any outbreaks in the United States, but it is estimated that a national outbreak could cost at least $14 billion over two years, and $50 billion over ten years. ************************************************************************************ Drought Conditions Driving Lowered Missouri River Runoff Forecast Very dry conditions in April resulted in low runoff in the upper Missouri River Basin. Runoff was 44 percent of average, the 9th driest April in 123 years of record. The updated 2021 upper Basin runoff forecast is 17.8 million acre-feet, 69 percent of average, the 22nd lowest calendar year runoff volume. John Remus of the Army Corps of Engineers says, “The extremely dry April, current drought conditions, and below-normal mountain snowpack has led our office to significantly lower the 2021 calendar year runoff forecast.” Mountain snowpack in the upper Basin has peaked and melting is underway. The mountain snowpack peaked above Fort Peck in late March at 86 percent of normal, and the Fort Peck to Garrison reach peaked in late April at 96 percent of average. Gavins Point Dam releases will provide full-service navigation flow support through July 1. That, in combination with the Bank Stabilization and Navigation Project, is generally sufficient to provide an adequate channel.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Biden Tax Plans Continue to Worry Farmers President Joe Biden's plan proposing tax increases on the wealthy also contains potential tax changes many in U.S. agriculture are very concerned about. The elimination of stepped-up basis is one of those provisions. That would end the current allowance that says when a farmer/landowner passes away, heirs receive the land based on its current value. If the stepped-up basis is done away, heirs would face capital gains taxes based on the value when it was originally acquired by the farmer/landowner. When announcing the proposed changes, several officials including USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, touted the fact their plan has an exemption for farms that remain family owned and operated after the owner passes. USDA said that would mean 98% of farms would be exempt from the decision. But that has not yet eased concerns. That is evidenced by a bipartisan group of House members who wrote to House leaders and urged them when compiling the legislation to put Biden's plan in motion they make sure farms and small businesses are exempt from the Biden plan. "The repeal of stepped-up basis for capital gains and immediate taxation could especially hurt family farms, some of which have been in families for generations; therefore, we strongly urge you to provide full exemptions for these family farms and small businesses that are critical to our communities," the Democratic lawmakers wrote. The use of the phrase that the exemption would apply to land that remained family owned and operated has also raised questions about whether that would apply to land inherited by those who do not farm the land. That is another potential worry point for agriculture where a rising number of landowners potentially have no heirs that are actively farming the ground, and that has those wondering if the loss of stepped-up basis and higher capital gains taxes would still apply in those situations. Another component of the Biden plan would end another tool farmers have already seen reduced -- 1031 exchanges. The tax package approved in 2017 narrowed the use of the Section 1031 exchanges to apply only to real estate. Previously, 1031 exchanges were allowed on personal property such as farm equipment and livestock. It allowed farmers to exchange their old tractors and upgrade to new ones without being taxed on their traded-in equipment. The 2017 tax law kept Section 1031 exchanges in place for real estate. That allows a farmer to sell land that perhaps would be located near an expanding city and take the resulting money and purchase land further out without paying capital gains on the sold farm ground. Similarly, some have used it sell an operation in one area with more-stringent regulations on farm practices and purchase ground in another location with fewer restrictions. The Biden plan would cap the level of profits that can be deferred tax-wise to $500,000, a limit that could effectively eliminate the 1031 exchanges on farm ground. The administration already had shelved another possibility that would also have set off alarm bells for agriculture. The initial talk was that the Biden plan was going to include an increase in the estate tax. Ag interests have led a successful campaign over the years to keep the estate tax from being increased. While they have also succeeded in raising the exemption level that determines when the estate tax kicks in, they have yet to see success in totally eliminating what they label the "death tax." So, we shall see. The Biden team has gone to great lengths to insist farmers would not be affected by the changes relative to capital gains and stepped-up basis. But the effort by a group of Democratic lawmakers makes clear they want more than just assurances; rather they want it in legislative language. And the 1031 issue also could remove another tool farm farmers' tax toolbox. All are items that bear watching for a sector that is asset-rich but at times, cash-poor, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


USDA to Press on With Minority Farmer Debt Relief Plan USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was asked to weigh in on a legal challenge launched by a group of white farmers contesting USDA's debt relief efforts on behalf of Black farmers and other selected minorities. The American Rescue Plan set aside $4 billion for the initiative, which provides unconditional USDA-held loan forgiveness for certain minority farmers along with extra funds to cover any potential taxes that arise. The lawsuit, filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, alleges the move violates equal protection rights because it excludes white farmers solely on the basis of race. Vilsack said the debt relief moves aim to address past USDA discrimination against socially disadvantaged farmers -- defined under the legislation as Black, Hispanic, Native American and other racial minorities. "We have reimbursed people in the past for those acts of discrimination, but we've never absolutely dealt with the cumulative effect," he explained. Vilsack said USDA will press forward with the debt relief program, even with the pending litigation. "I understand that litigation is going to be what it is, and we'll obviously have the Department of Justice and others do what they do," he commented. However, Vilsack said the legal actions will not affect ongoing implementation of the effort in the meantime.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


Vilsack Acknowledges Carbon Bank May Need Congressional Action USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday at a White House press briefing acknowledged a USDA carbon bank will likely need some action from Congress to get off the ground. However, he also noted farmers expressed support and interest in the bank and USDA's broader climate-smart ag push during a session this week alongside Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan. A reporter pressed Vilsack on whether a proposed USDA carbon bank would require congressional approval -- something Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., and others have asserted. "Well, it needs congressional approval in the sense that you have resources in all of these programs that require funding," Vilsack responded. "We have a lot of flexibility already at USDA, and we're going to be utilizing that flexibility in a way that creates more, new and better markets," he added, though he did not elaborate on what specific flexibility he was referring to. This indicates USDA's ability to establish and run a carbon bank using authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) is not at all assured with Vilsack's indication that some congressional action will be needed.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, the U.S. Labor Department will report on non-farm payrolls and the unemployment rate in April. Traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. A report on U.S. consumer credit in March follows at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Isolated to scattered showers are expected across the eastern Midwest and up and down the Plains on Friday. Other areas will be dry. This will promote fieldwork and planting for much of the country while providing some soil moisture as well. Winds across the Northern Plains have raised red flag warnings and threats for fires. Lower temperatures will remain in place across the Midwest, unfavorable for crop progress.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


CME Group Permanently Closing Physical Trading Pits CME Group announced this week it will not reopen its physical trading pits that were closed last March due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the trading pits for corn, wheat, soybeans and other ag commodities. Contracts for ag commodities will be traded only electronically. However, CME Group’s Eurodollar options pit, which was reopened last August, will remain open, allowing these contracts to continue to trade in both open outcry and electronic venues. The once busy trading floors saw traffic decline as electronic trading became popular. The ongoing transition led to trading pits closing in Chicago and New York in 2015. The Chicago Tribune reports that when CME Group temporarily closed its 11 trading pits last March, about 450 traders, clerks, and employees were on the trading floor most days. CME Group also announced it will delist its full-size, floor-based S&P 500 futures and options contracts following the expiration of the September 2021 contracts. ************************************************************************************ White House Announces New Vaccine Goals, Funding for Rural Communities The White House this week announced a new national vaccine administration goal of 70 percent of all Americans by July 4. President Joe Biden is also taking additional steps to get vaccines to rural communities. The administration is sending new vaccine allocations to rural communities, along with granting $100 million in funding to rural health clinics. The funding will be used to assist rural residents in accessing vaccinations as well as education and outreach efforts around the benefits of vaccination. Additionally, the Health Resources and Services Administration is providing nearly $860 million in funding to help rural health clinics and rural hospitals. The funding will help broaden rural care providers COVID-19 testing and mitigation to slow the spread of the virus in their communities. HRSA will provide up to $100,000 per clinic to each of the 4,600 federally designated rural health clinics and up to $230,000 per hospital to 1,730 small rural hospitals. ************************************************************************************ NBB Requests Meeting with EPA Administrator Regan The National Biodiesel Board this week sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan requesting a meeting to present the findings of a new study. The study, according to NBB, assesses and quantifies the public health benefits and resulting economic savings of using 100 percent biodiesel in U.S. communities near heavy transportation corridors. The organization says heavy transportation corridors are an emerging area of concern for the EPA. Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs, writes in the letter, "We believe that including biodiesel and renewable diesel in the administration's plans to address carbon is fully consistent with your agency's focus on environmental justice.” The study shows switching to 100 percent biodiesel would result in 340 fewer premature deaths, 46,000 fewer lost workdays and $3 billion in avoided health care costs. Additionally, the study says the switch would bring a 45 percent reduction in cancer risk for communities near heavy-duty transportation corridors. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Union Members Advocate Immediate Climate Action Through Days of Advocacy, an event pairing National Farmers Union members with lawmakers, the organization is advocating legislative solutions to address climate change. NFU members are participating in virtual meetings this week and next with members of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees. They are advocating for voluntary, incentive-based programs and market initiatives that help farmers implement climate-friendly practices and install on-farm renewable energy systems. NFU President Rob Larew says, “While we’re really encouraged by the strong, bipartisan support for climate action, we want to ensure these efforts take farmers’ unique needs and interests into account.” To ensure such programs are executed smoothly, they will also promote robust funding for technical assistance. Additionally, participants and other Farmers Union members will sit down with Department of Agriculture officials to learn more about the administration’s climate initiatives. The members attending the meetings sit on NFU’s Climate Change Policy Advisory Panel, through which they advise the organization’s climate-related efforts. ************************************************************************************ NCGA Yield Contest Opens Farmers can now enter the National Corn Growers Association’s yield contest for this year. NCGA says entrants contribute to a pool of shared knowledge that helps all corn farmers in challenging years. The National Corn Yield Contest offers challenges and rewards to each entrant. In 2020, the organization says 7,844 growers accepted the challenge, enjoyed the friendly competition with fellow farmers and helped provide information that will lead to future innovations. This year, to add transparency and visual confirmation to high-yield entries, the contest requires a photo inclusion to be submitted online with the recheck yield results. Winners will receive national recognition in Progressive Farmer's Best in the Field Winner's Guide in mid-February. State winners will be honored at the 2022 Commodity Classic in New Orleans, Louisiana. Contest winners will be announced on December 15. For the 2021 Entry and the Harvest Rule Book, along with information on changes this year and other resources, visit NCGA.com. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $92.2 Million in Grants for Local, Regional Food Producers The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced $92.2 million in competitive grant funding under the 2018 Farm Bill’s Local Agriculture Market Program. The program grants are funded through the Farmers Market program as part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative. USDA launched the initiative in March to address shortfalls and disparities in how assistance was distributed in previous COVID-19 assistance packages, with a specific focus on strengthening outreach to underserved producers and communities and small and medium agricultural operations. The grants support the development, coordination and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing, local and regional food markets and enterprises and value-added agricultural products. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “These grants will help maximize opportunities for economic growth and ingenuity in local and regional food systems to kickstart this transformation.” USDA encourages projects that assist underserved local and regional agricultural businesses, producer networks and associations, and local and tribal government in responding to COVID-19 disruptions and impacts.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Debt Limit Issue Again on the Horizon The issue of the nation's debt limit is set to return as something that Congress will have to deal with in coming months. The New York Times reports that the issue is again coming to light after the 2019 action by a then-bipartisan Congress to suspend the debt limit until July 31. The suspension was aimed at putting the budget issue off until after the elections and keeping it out of politics. But now the matter is fast approaching as lawmakers will have to address. While the U.S. Treasury can take what are labeled "extraordinary measures" to avoid hitting the debt limit, the agency is warning that they are not sure this time around how long they can use those tools before the debt limit is hit. "In light of the substantial COVID-related uncertainty about receipts and outlays in the coming months, it is very difficult to predict how long extraordinary measures might last," the agency said in a section of its so-called quarterly refunding statement on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg. "Treasury is evaluating a range of potential scenarios, including some in which extraordinary measures could be exhausted much more quickly than in prior debt limit episodes." Some of those extraordinary measures can suspending sales of state and local government series Treasury securities and suspending reinvestment of the Exchange Stabilization Fund, the Times said. Treasury can also redeem existing investments of the Civil Service Retirement and Disability Fund and the Postal Service Retiree Health Benefits Fund and suspend reinvestment of the Government Securities Investment Fund. In a briefing, a Treasury official would not commit to how long those tools could be tapped, again pointing to the uncertainty over the COVID situation. "If Congress has not acted by July 31, Treasury, as it has in the past, may take certain extraordinary measures to continue to finance the government on a temporary basis," said Brian Smith, Treasury's deputy assistant secretary for federal finance. "In light of the substantial COVID-related uncertainty about receipts and outlays in the coming months, it is very difficult to predict how long extraordinary measures might last." While Treasury could also prioritize what debts they will pay and which ones they will not, Smith simply said, "Congress needs to raise or suspend the debt limit, that's the way to resolve this issue." With Democrats in charge of the House and Senate, they may opt to use budget reconciliation to push through an increase in the debt ceiling. But even then, they will have to count on all 50 Senate Democrats and nearly every House Democrat to even use that option. If that approach is not used, the Times warned that Republicans could use it as leverage for spending cuts as they did several years ago. While not an immediate issue, the matter will become one later this year. And with the level of debt piling up, the interest payments on that debt will be very important. The current level of interest rates has reduced the cost to service the debt. But if conditions which the market fear relative to inflation manifest themselves near the time the debt ceiling issue has to be addressed, that will add to the cost servicing the debt. Plus, fears the U.S. could default on its obligations could send shockwaves through financial markets, another unwelcome development. So, we will see. But producers will need to follow this issue closely as the deadline for action approaches. It could easily become a more-protracted fight than most would like. And a fight on that front could spill into several areas of the government, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


US Ag Export Value Shot Higher in March Along With Imports The value of U.S. ag exports rebounded sharply higher in March to $15.34 billion after slipping to $13.87 billion in February. But the big rise in exports was nearly equaled by sharp boost in the level of imports which hit a record $14.56 billion in March after having fallen to $11.86 billion in February. The result was a trade surplus of $774 million, a sharp decline from the $2 billion surplus in February and marked the first surplus under $2 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021. The export mark also means U.S. ag exports have been valued at $15 billion or more five out of the six months so far in FY 2021. This brings cumulative FY 2021 ag exports to $92.42 billion against imports that total $76.87 billion, for a cumulative surplus of $15.5 billion. USDA in February forecast U.S. ag exports at a record $157 billion against imports at $137.5 billion which would also be a record. USDA will update its forecast for U.S. ag exports May 26. Historical patterns are for U.S. ag import values to increase in the next few months while export values have typically softened

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


GAO Embarking On Extensive RFS Exam The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week published a notice in the Federal Register that they are turning over information to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the Renewable Fuel Standard, including data that could be considered confidential business information (CBI) relative to small refinery exemptions (SREs). EPA said they will disclose to GAO "all documents, information, and data related to all small refinery exemption petitions received by EPA from the start of the RFS program through the present." EPA said GAO will either return the information to EPA or destroy it when their study is done, and they noted there are rules preventing "any further disclosure" of such information. That suggests GAO is embarking on a major exam of the RFS and SREs in particular, most likely coming at the request of a lawmaker or lawmakers. It is not clear when the study will be completed, but this could be a key report on what has been a dicey subject in the biofuels arena.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, along with weekly U.S. jobless claims, a report on U.S. productivity in the first quarter and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Energy Department will release its weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. CDT. Trader attention will stay glued to the latest weather forecasts. Weather Cool and dry conditions will cover northern and central crop areas Thursday. Precipitation will be confined to showers in portions of the eastern Midwest. The cooler pattern is unfavorable for crop progress. There is also an extreme wildfire threat in the northwestern Midwest and northeastern Plains later Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


Ag Economy Barometer Mostly Unchanged from April The April Ag Economy Barometer was 178, virtually unchanged from a month earlier. Last month, the index stood at 177, and just five points below its all-time high of 183 set back in October. Compared to March, however, there was a small change in producers’ perspective on the ag economy as they became more optimistic about the future, while their appraisal of the current situation waned. In April, the Index of Future Expectations rose five points to 169, and the Index of Current Conditions moved down seven points to 195. Ag producers continue to report expectations for solid financial performance on their farms and expect farmland values to continue to rise over the next year. However, producers were a bit less optimistic about the long-term outlook for farmland values, suggesting there might be some concern that recent farmland price rises might not be sustainable. And 95 percent of producers surveyed say they are concerted over new tax changes being considered. ************************************************************************************ Dairy Checkoff Working with Entrepreneurs to Address Industry Challenges Dairy Management Inc. has entered a partnership that will provide access to a network of inventors and entrepreneurs. The network is tasked with providing marketplace solutions for industry challenges focused on health and sustainability. DMI is partnering with Venture Winston Grants, which has designed a competition where startup companies can apply for funding that will allow them to incorporate dairy into their concepts in one of four areas. The areas include health and nutrition, biobased products, smart communities of the future and regenerative agriculture. Dwyer Williams, chief transformation officer for DMI, says, “We want to disrupt the marketplace before we’re disrupted and that requires looking for unexpected partners outside of the dairy industry.” The process is underway to identify potential startups who are a match for DMI’s four focus areas, with the expectation to have the winners named in January 2022. Barnes says once a technology is completed, it could take two to three years to have concepts commercialized and in the marketplace. ************************************************************************************ Biofuel Groups Welcomes EPA’s Moves to Vacate Last-Minute SREs The Environmental Protection Agency this week filed a motion in the D.C. Circuit Court to vacate three last-minute small refinery exemptions issued on January 19, 2021. In the last hours of the Trump Administration, the EPA issued the three waivers to Sinclair. According to EPA’s April 30 filing, the agency under the previous administration “failed to properly analyze the waiver petitions submitted by Sinclair.” The filing says the Trump administration’s EPA “granted exemption extensions that EPA now believes are ‘outside the scope of the EPA’s statutory authority.’” Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper states, “We strongly support EPA’s request for vacatur and remand of these three midnight-hour exemptions.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “EPA is addressing the previous administration’s mishandling of the SRE program,” adding, “We are hopeful that EPA will continue to rein in the SRE program to achieve its limited purpose and ensure that the RFS advances the biofuels industry.” ************************************************************************************ Farmers National: Interest in Farmland Selling to Increase Land sales activity was flat the past few years, but that may soon change. The lower supply of farms for sale has been one of the factors that supported land values after the 2013 peak in prices paid for ag land. Farmers National Company reports seeing indications for increased land sale activity through to the end of 2021. Farmers National Company and its agents have already received an increased number of calls from landowners who are thinking about selling later in the year. The company says the main reason that will drive the current and upcoming sales decisions is that landowners are seeing a large and rapid run-up in land prices to levels last seen in 2013. The other reason that there might be more sales activity this fall is that a market doesn't like uncertainty. Landowners are factoring in both the higher land prices and the uncertainty of future tax policy to make the call whether to sell now or keep the land. ************************************************************************************ Consumers Considering Health, Environmental Impacts of Food Post-COVID-19 Consumers are increasingly considering their health and environmental sustainability as they shop for food. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the trend in the past year, according to a panel of experts participating in Farm Journal Foundation's Speaker Series. Half of consumers have made changes to what they eat in the past two years to lead a more sustainable lifestyle, according to Michael Hughes of FMCG Gurus. Hughes says changes to consumption patterns include reducing food waste, eating more local and fresh foods, and making greater attempts to check the sustainability credentials of food companies. Tina Owens of Danone North America told the panel, "Consumers are looking even more than they were before the pandemic to play activist with their grocery dollars." And Christine Daugherty of PepsiCo says consumer brands have a large role to play in driving sustainability. PepsiCo recently unveiled a set of Positive Agriculture goals, which aim to impact seven million acres of farmland and reduce three million tons of greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the decade. ************************************************************************************ USDA: World Food Gap to Narrow by 2030 The intensity of global food insecurity, indicated by a measure called the food gap, is projected to lessen over the coming decade in the world's poorest regions. The improvement comes amid decreased incomes associated with pandemic-related drops in Gross Domestic Product, according to the Department of Agriculture. The food gap measures how much food is needed to raise consumption at every income level to meet the nutritional target of 2,100 calories per capita per day, a minimum intake to sustain a healthy and active lifestyle. For the four regions studied in the Economic Research Service International Food Security Assessment, the food gap in 2020 ranged from a low of 12 percent of the daily caloric target in North Africa to 20 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa. Income growth, along with relatively stable prices for major grains and lower population growth, are contributing factors to this improvement, However, the gap is 12 percent higher than earlier estimates reported by USDA after pandemic-related revisions.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Inflation and Markets It's hard to read nearly any market-oriented publication and major media without seeing some reference to inflation. The prospect of rising prices for goods that consumers purchase remains a concern as commodity prices have risen and the government either has or wants to pump trillions of dollars into a U.S. economy that has been battered by the COVID pandemic. The U.S. Federal Reserve, and Chairman Jerome Powell, have taken a stance that inflation will show, but it will be "transitory," a term to indicate that they do not see a sustained rise in inflation that could hamper the U.S. economy as the U.S. central bank would likely have to increase interest rates in order to quell price increases. One of their goals is price stability. Enter Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, herself a former Fed chair. In remarks to the Atlantic on Tuesday, Yellen suggested that the Fed may have to raise interest rates, spooking investors. "It may be that interest rates will have to rise somewhat to make sure that our economy doesn't overheat, even though the additional spending is relatively small relative to the size of the economy," she said in a prerecorded interview at the Atlantic's Future Economy Summit. Stock indices fell moved lower in response to the comments as many in the marketplace have been betting the Fed will have to increase rates in a bid to quell inflation that many expect will be moving higher. Later, in remarks to a Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit, Yellen shifted her comments, with many outlets noting she "walked back" her earlier inflation comments. "I don't think there's going to be an inflationary problem, but if there is, the Fed can be counted on to address it," Yellen remarked. This market dustup even with several Fed officials reiterating the view that the rise in inflation is going to be temporary in nature. She also noted later in the day that the $4 trillion in spending now being advocated by President Joe Biden -- a $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan and another $1.8 trillion American Families Plan -- would not spur inflation as the spending would be spread out over eight to 10 years. What is somewhat unusual in this situation is that Yellen commented on monetary policy in the first place. Typically, there has been an unwritten rule that an administration does not comment on monetary policy and that the Fed does not wade into fiscal policy which is the responsibility of Congress and the administration. The situation arises as prices for corn, soybeans, wheat and other commodities have risen sharply. Indeed, Wheat prices jumped some 20% or more in April, corn prices gained more than 30% and soybean prices were up some 10%, based on futures market prices. This coming while U.S. farmers are in the midst of planting this year's corn and soybean crops. The price increases have come as supplies of corn and soybeans in particular have fallen and demand from foreign buyers like China has been strong. And couple that with crop concerns in Brazil and the price rise has materialized. U.S. farmers have been quickly planting this year's corn, soybean and spring wheat crops. But global markets are hopeful that the U.S. does not experience any major impacts to the seed that has only just gone into the ground. The commodity price increases are among those that do raise inflationary concerns as they raise raw material costs. They also come after farmers have seen market prices battered by large supplies, trade wars and the Pandemic. But as history has shown, low prices cure low prices. And that brings the inflation situation into a broader focus as the U.S. economy pulls up out of the depths of the pandemic. So we shall see. Any potential rise in interest rates would increase costs for farmers as they seek to operate or buy farmland. It becomes a cost factor for farm incomes that have been supplemented during the low-price time by government support. It is a situation which farmers will need to monitor, adding yet another watchpoint for the sector as crops come out of the ground and move toward maturity, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


Dairy Producers Press USTR Tai on Key Dairy Trade Issues Eliminating non-tariff barriers to U.S. dairy exports and expanding market access for U.S. dairy products are among the issues that U.S. dairy producer representatives raised in a Monday meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Representatives of the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), led by its President and CEO Jim Mulhern, emphasized to Tai a need for enforcement of existing trade agreements such as ensuring Canada meets its trade obligations; countering European Union attempts to misuse common food names through inappropriate geographical indication rules; engaging with Mexico to ensure a normal flow of trade; and concluding new market expanding trade agreements.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


Coalition Calls on USDA to Launch Pilot Projects on Carbon Banks Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) is calling on USDA to launch pilot projects to explore creating a carbon bank, an idea not popular with Republicans on Capitol Hill. The group released recommendations for how USDA should think about a potential carbon bank. But the report comes after several GOP lawmakers have made clear they prefer a private industry approach rather than getting USDA and the government involved in creating a carbon bank. Initial reviews of the alliance recommendations were that they reflected a committee approach that lacked specifics. One of the FACA members is the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), and its leader Zippy Duvall has indicated he was still not totally on board with the concept. There also remains a question on whether or not USDA has the authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) to create and/or operate a carbon bank.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:15 a.m. CDT Wednesday, ADP will report on private sector job gains in the U.S. for April, an early hint of Friday's unemployment report. At 9:30 a.m. CDT, the U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly inventory report, including ethanol production. The latest forecasts for Brazil and the U.S. will continue to get plenty of attention as will any news of an export sale. Weather Wednesday features light rain showers in the Northern and Central Plains and moderate to locally heavy rain in the eastern Gulf Coast. Other primary crop areas will be dry. The northern moisture will offer only marginal drought easing, while the southern rain may be heavy enough to cause flood concern. Below normal temperatures in many areas will slow the pace of fieldwork and early crop growth.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


FACA Recommends USDA Use Pilot Projects to Build Toward a Carbon Bank The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, or FACA, delivered recommendations Monday to the Department of Agriculture regarding a potential carbon bank. The more than 70 members of the alliance, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, says USDA should first develop a series of pilot projects. The focus areas include scaling climate solutions to help increase adoption of climate-smart practices, removing barriers to adoption, improving carbon account standards and ensuring equitable opportunities. The alliance says information gained from the pilots will serve two critical purposes. First, it will help USDA build a durable foundation for a carbon bank that earns long-term bipartisan congressional support. Second, it will help USDA build confidence in how to verify the climate benefits delivered by specific practices and management approaches. Read FACA’s full carbon bank recommendations and see a full list of member organizations at agclimatealliance.com. ************************************************************************************ More Farmers Suing USDA Alleging Discrimination The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty last week filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging the alleged race discrimination in the American Rescue Plan. Specifically, the organization targets a provision to offer loan forgiveness based on racial categories. The organization filed the lawsuit Thursday on behalf of five plaintiffs from Wisconsin, Minnesota, South Dakota, and Ohio. The American Rescue Plan Act provides billions of dollars of debt relief to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. But the law’s definition of socially disadvantaged includes explicit racial classifications: farmers and ranchers must be Black or African American, American Indian or Alaskan Native, Hispanic or Latino, or Asian American or Pacific Islander. Other farmers are ineligible for the program, according to the plaintiffs. The lawsuit alleges discrimination, calling the program "illegal and unconstitutional." The lawsuit asks the court to issue an injunction and a declaratory judgment that the racial classifications in the farmer loan forgiveness program are unconstitutional. ************************************************************************************ Farm Bureau Launches Farm State of Mind Resource The American Farm Bureau Federation just launched a comprehensive online directory of resources for farmers, ranchers and their families who are experiencing stress and mental health challenges. In recognition of May as Mental Health Month, the directory provides users with stress and mental health resources in every state. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, “It is so important to spread the word that no one has to go it alone.” The directory, which is on the Farm State of Mind website at farmstateofmind.org, features listings for crisis hotlines and support lines, counseling services, training opportunities, podcasts, videos, published articles and other resources. National research polls conducted and published by AFBF in 2019 and 2021 showed that a number of factors including financial issues and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are impacting farmers’ mental health, highlighting the need to identify local resources that can help farmers and ranchers cope with chronic stress and mental health concerns. ************************************************************************************ Dairy Groups Welcome U.S. Callout of EU Food Name Protections The Consortium for Common Food Names, National Milk Producers Federation and U.S. Dairy Export Council recently commended U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tia for announcing an opinion on geographic indicators. USTR’s Special 301 Report, an annual publication tallying global challenges pertaining to intellectual property issues, called out the EU’s policy of blocking fair competition through the pursuit of geographical indications. The dairy groups say geographic indicators restrict the use of common food and beverage terms, which create barriers to trade in products relying on common food names. The Consortium for Common Food Names Executive Director Jaime Castaneda says, “USTR has accurately diagnosed the problem,” adding, “Now the task before the U.S. is to take the necessary steps to effectively curb this scourge to U.S. food and agricultural producers.” The Consortium for Common Food Names filed extensive comments with USTR outlining geographic indicator-related developments, foreign governments’ roles in driving those policies and the impacts on U.S. farmers and food producers. ************************************************************************************ Kind Joins Organic Caucus in Introducing Legislation to Improve Organic Standards Wisconsin U.S. Representative Ron Kind and a group of bipartisan House members last week introduced the Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act. The legislation seeks to improve the federal process for the oversight of organic food standards. Kind is co-chair of the bipartisan House Organic Caucus, stating, “This legislation will take necessary steps to ensure our organic farmers can continue to succeed and innovate for generations to come." The Wisconsin Democracy says the bill will establish a new framework for advancing organic standards and improve oversight and enforcement of new rules and guidance. Illinois Republican Representative Rodney Davis, also co-chair of the House Organic Caucus, says, “Our bipartisan legislation will clear the backlog of rule recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board.” The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 directed USDA to establish national standards and assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard. However, the lawmakers say USDA inaction has stifled innovation. ************************************************************************************ Illinois’ Bustos Not Seeking Reelection Illinois Democrat Cherri Bustos announced she will not seek reelection after completing her current term in the House of Representatives. In a video posted on Twitter, Bustos says, “I feel it’s time for a new voice.” Bustos represents Illinois’ 17th District, a largely rural district, and has served on the House Agriculture Committee since first being elected in 2013. This Congress, Bustos chairs the Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over policies, statutes and markets relating to commodities like corn, soybeans, wheat, pulse crops and more. It also oversees the Commodity Credit Corporation and crop insurance programs. Congresswoman Bustos also serves as a member of the Subcommittee on Commodity Exchanges, Energy and Credit. Bustos made the announcement on Friday. The Illinois Dem County Chairs’ Association thanks Bustos for her service, adding, “Her commitment to her district is unparalleled, particularly to the hard-working middle class and rural communities.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


March DMC Payments Triggered By Margin Prices Payments under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program are triggered when the national all milk price and the national average feed cost (margin) falls below the margin trigger levels selected by producers. The calculations for March for milk prices and feed components (corn, blended alfalfa hay, and soymeal) will trigger prices for March 2021 as the national average margin is $6.46 per hundredweight (cwt). As a result, dairy operations that elected Tier 1 margin coverage levels at $9.50, $9.00, $8.50, $8.00, $7.50, $7.00, and $6.50 per cwt., and Tier 2 margin coverage levels at $8.00, $7.50, $7.00, and $6.50 per cwt. will be issued a payment. Payments range from $0.04 per cwt. for the $6.50 margin trigger to $3.04 per cwt. for the $9.50 margin trigger coverage level.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


USTR Section 301 Report Notes US-China Phase One Deal Exam Ongoing The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on Friday (April 30) issued its 2021 Special 301 report, a 90-page recap of the state of intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement with U.S. trading partners. China, not surprisingly, garnered nine of the pages, with attention on several issues regarding IP protections of movies and other media. The report notes that China agreed to several changes via the Phase One agreement that went into effect in 2020, but the report noted that a review of that deal remains ongoing. That echoes what U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told lawmakers last week -- that she was eager to kick off the top-to-bottom review of the agreement to determine areas of success and areas where more work is needed. "The United States-China Economic and Trade Agreement (Phase One Agreement), signed in January 2020, also includes several trade secret commitments to address a number of long-standing concerns in China, including on expanding the scope of civil liability, covering acts such as electronic intrusions as trade secret theft, shifting the burden of producing evidence, making it easier to obtain preliminary injunctions to prevent use of stolen trade secrets, allowing criminal investigations without need to show actual losses, ensuring criminal enforcement for willful misappropriation, and prohibiting unauthorized disclosure of trade secrets and confidential business information by government personnel or third-party experts," the report said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Census Bureau will release the U.S. trade deficit for March at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by a report on U.S. factory orders at 9 a.m. CDT. Traders will look at the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales. USDA will release export data for agricultural goods later Tuesday morning. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the eastern and southern Midwest through the Delta and Southeast Tuesday. The rain will disrupt planting progress. Dry conditions elsewhere will favor fieldwork. Temperatures will be above normal in the southeast and seasonal to below normal in other crop areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


New Study Shows Health Benefits of Biodiesel A new study sponsored by the National Biodiesel Board shows switching to biodiesel will result in several health benefits, including decreased cancer risk, fewer premature deaths, and reduced asthma attacks. The research got conducted at 13 sites across the U.S. that get regularly exposed to high rates of petroleum diesel pollution. Researchers found that switching to 100 percent biodiesel in the home heating oil and transportation sectors would provide immediate community health benefits that can be measured in reduced medical costs and health care benefits, such as preventing 340 premature deaths every year. Other benefits include a 45 percent reduction in cancer risk when heavy-duty trucks like semis use B100 and an 86 percent reduced risk when biodiesel is used for home heating oil. Other yearly health benefits include 203,000 fewer asthma attacks, 46,000 fewer sick days, and $3 billion less in health care costs after switching to B100. “This study quantifies the health benefits and shows that by using renewable fuels like biodiesel and renewable diesel, we are bringing positive change to people’s lives, the nation’s health, and the economy,” says NBB CEO Donnell Rehagen. ********************************************************************************************** California Court Rules on Chlorpyrifos A federal court in California gave the Environmental Protection Agency two choices on the insecticide chlorpyrifos (Klor-PEER-ah-fahs). The agency has 60 days to write a new rule to allow for the safe use of the insecticide, or it can halt all food residue tolerances of chlorpyrifos, which would basically ban most uses of the product. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco says the EPA has had long enough to respond to a 2007 petition by environmental groups to ban the chemical. The court says, “The EPA has had almost 14 years to publish a legally sufficient response to the 2007 petition.” The court’s ruling also says that, during that delay, the EPA has exposed a generation of America’s children to unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos. “By remanding back to the EPA one last time, rather than compelling the immediate revocation of all chlorpyrifos tolerances, the court is being more than tolerant. But the EPA’s time is now up.” In a statement to DTN, the agency says it’s reviewing all its options. “As the agency pursues its mission to protect human health, including that of children and the environment, EPA is committed to ensuring the safety of pesticides and other chemicals,” the agency says. ********************************************************************************************** U.S., E.U. Ag Groups Ask for End to Retaliatory Tariffs A total of 88 U.S. and European organizations representing a wide range of industries are asking for an end to trade tariffs between the U.S. and E.U. The groups sent a letter to leaders on both sides of the Atlantic asking for the permanent removal of the tariffs on sectors unrelated to the ongoing Trans-Atlantic trade dispute. The Hagstrom Report says the organizations range from agricultural products to consumer goods. The letter opens by thanking the U.S. and E.U. for the four-month suspension of tariffs imposed in connection to the World Trade Organization dispute concerning civil aircraft subsidies. “We are hopeful that this suspension will help reset the vital transatlantic trade relationship and lead to the permanent removal of all additional and retaliatory tariffs on products which are unrelated to the sectors subject to ongoing transatlantic trade disputes,” the groups say in the letter. “It’s important for our members, already hit hard by the economic impact of COVID-19, to be able to rely on the continued suspension or complete removal of these tariffs after July 2021.” They say the transatlantic relationship is of enormous economic importance to their sectors and are eager to see it protected and nurtured. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Groups Respond to USDA Climate Smart Solutions The National Association of Conservation Districts submitted a letter to the USDA in response to the agency’s request for comments on climate smart solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. “Climate-smart agriculture and forestry need significantly more government investment and action to meet the need of oversubscribed programs,” says NACD President Michael Crowder. Among the suggestions, the NACD Climate Action Task Force reiterated its request for at least $1.2 billion in the Fiscal Year 2022 discretionary funding for conservation operations to bolster local technical assistance. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says carbon markets represent a great opportunity for farmers to help in the effort to mitigate climate change, but they do come with risks. Larew calls on the USDA to minimize those risks and provide more certainty for farmers by creating a “public third-party verification system,” facilitating access to information about the markets, and working to “prevent consolidation in agricultural carbon markets and the corporate purchasing of farmland for the generation of carbon credits.” Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor submitted comments pointing out that plant-based biofuels like ethanol are a readily available, renewable energy solution that reduces carbon emissions today. “Recent studies demonstrate that biofuels can immediately contribute to lowering greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonizing our transportation sector,” Skor says. *********************************************************************************************** Poultry Supply Chain Slowing Down as Demand Rises Chicken is in such high demand that U.S. restaurants and processing companies are having trouble keeping up. Supply challenges are hitting all sorts of chains that serve chicken, including bone-in chains, burger joints that sell chicken sandwiches, pizza chains selling wings, as well as traditional wing restaurants. The problem has led to higher chicken prices, especially for chicken wings. Restaurant Business Dot Com says prices will stay at record levels for the foreseeable future. “We believe these higher prices are likely to continue in 2021 as suppliers are struggling to hire enough people to process chicken, thus placing unexpected pressure on the number of birds that can get processed,” says Charlie Morrison, CEO of Wingstop. “That’s negatively affecting the supply of all parts of the chicken in the U.S. and not just wings.” Prices for bone-in wings on the spot market are up more than 50 percent year over year. KFC introduced a new chicken sandwich earlier this year and is having trouble keeping up with demand. While there are multiple challenges facing chicken supplies, a lot of the challenges are based on demand. Chicken sandwich demand has risen dramatically, while chicken wings have seen even greater demand increases. *********************************************************************************************** Topsoil Moisture is Lacking in Half of the Midwest Large parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio are abnormally dry, and most of Michigan is in moderate drought due to limited spring precipitation. Last week’s Drought Monitor shows arid conditions covered 48 percent of the Midwest, the heart of U.S. corn and soybean production. That’s compared to 32 percent a week earlier. “Much of the Ohio Valley states, as well as Iowa to lower Michigan, had little to no precipitation over the past week,” the drought monitor reports. Almost all of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and the eastern third of its Upper Peninsula were in moderate drought. Precipitation deficits over the last 90 days have been building, streams are low, and soil moisture continues to dry in the Lower Peninsula. The USDA rated topsoil moisture as short or very short in half or more of Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, and North Dakota. Several Colorado counties were asked to voluntarily conserve water.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Administration Prepares to Boost Food Stamps Bloomberg is reporting this week that the Biden administration is quietly laying the groundwork for a long-term increase in food aid -- without going through the ordeal of a fight with congressional Republicans. The change apparently can be achieved by an obscure USDA shopping list used to determine food stamp benefits, known as "the market basket." A review of the so-called Thrifty Food Plan, ordered by Biden two days after he took office, could trigger an automatic increase in benefits as soon as Oct. 1, a day after expiration of a temporary 15% boost in food stamp payments that President Biden included in his $1.9 trillion COVID-relief package. James Ziliak, director of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of Kentucky, said the re-evaluation "could result in an upward adjustment of 20% or more in the benefits." That would amount to roughly a $136-a-month increase in the maximum benefit for a family of four, which was $680 before the temporary pandemic-related increase. "This is really meaningful," said Jason Furman, a Harvard Kennedy School of Government professor who was chairman of President Barack Obama's Council of Economic Advisers. "It's one of the bigger things government can do for poverty without Congress." The reappraisal culminates a years-long campaign by anti-hunger advocates to reassess the market basket. The value hasn't been increased other than adjustments for inflation for six decades. The move is emblematic of a broad commitment to anti-poverty programs across the Biden administration. In April, the Agriculture Department extended a universal free school lunch program tied to pandemic relief through the entire 2021-22 school year. However, it's a sharp reversal from the Trump administration, which tried to limit eligibility for food aid -- though the proposed restrictions were overturned by courts. Food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, once enjoyed broad bipartisan support, but have evolved into a partisan flashpoint in recent years. House Republicans tried to impose cuts in 2013 and 2018, the last two times the program was reauthorized as part of the five-year Farm Bill. Biden often speaks of one of the most jarring images of the pandemic-year economic collapse -- cars lined up for miles outside food banks to wait for a box of groceries -- and invoked it again in his first address to Congress as he explained the importance of anti-hunger initiatives in his vision for the country. "I didn't ever think I'd see that in America," he told millions watching at home. The pandemic stirred public concern over hunger as seemingly secure middle- and working-class families suddenly became vulnerable. By December, one in seven U.S. households reported not having enough to eat sometimes or often in the prior week and in January 41.8 million Americans were on food stamps -- 4.7 million, or 12.8%, more than a year earlier. Advocates argue that the $22-a-day food budget USDA currently sets for a family of four is woefully inadequate and relies on outdated, unrealistic assumptions. The market basket assumes a family eats more than five pounds of beans a week, for example. And outside studies have found that the food plan requires spending about two hours a day preparing meals, largely from scratch, at a time the average American family spends just a half hour on daily food preparation. SNAP benefits are calculated on a sliding scale based on income and the number and age of people in a household. Recipients are expected to spend 30% of their net income on food, with food stamps making up the deficit from the USDA food budget. Benefits can only be used to purchase groceries. More than a quarter of the households enrolled in SNAP exhaust their monthly benefits in the first week after issuance, and more than half do so by the second week, according to a 2011 USDA study. The Obama administration considered changing the USDA food budget and took the decision all the way up to the president. But at a June 2015 Oval Office meeting with his top economic and domestic policy advisers, Obama ultimately decided not to tamper with the market basket, mindful that Republicans then controlled both houses of Congress, according to Furman. With Democrats now holding narrow majorities in the House and Senate, "the Republicans could put up a good fight, but at the end of the day I don't think they could stop it," said Mike Conaway, R., Texas, a former Republican House Agriculture Committee chairman who retired from Congress last year. The U.S. has periodically reviewed the market basket, first established as the Economy Food Plan in 1961 and updated in 1975 as the Thrifty Food Plan, to adjust for changes in nutritional guidelines and food consumption patterns. The most recent review came in 2006. Yet the reviews were always constrained to keep costs constant. This time, the review won't be required to be cost-neutral, said Stacy Dean, a senior USDA official leading the review on behalf of USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The Biden administration isn't officially prejudging the outcome of the review, but officials have made clear they believe current benefit levels aren't sufficient. "It's fair to say that the SNAP benefit is in many cases not adequate enough to provide the help and assistance that is needed," Vilsack told an anti-hunger conference in March, describing the review. "I suspect that we're going to find that the foundation of that program doesn't meet the activities of normal American families today and that may result in some adjustment in terms of the benefit." The USDA nutrition programs were designed to benefit both those in need of food assistance and the producers who supply the products. Program advocates often point out that the increased program levels can be expected to support significant increases in demand for key farm products -- changes likely to be implemented in the coming months and which producers should watch closely as they appear, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


US Maintains Blockade On Restarting WTO Appellate Body The U.S. this week refused to lift its effective block of the WTO Appellate Body, saying the country was still not in a position to back a plan to open the selection process to fill vacancies on the Appellate Body. The proposal not supported by the U.S. has been backed by 121 WTO members. But the U.S. position of blocking new appointments to the Appellate Body goes back to the Trump administration and so far, the Biden administration has not shifted from that position. There has been speculation that the new U.S. administration might look more favorably at restarting the Appellate Body. But the Biden administration has so far indicated they also want to see reforms to the dispute settlement appeals process. The WTO Appellate Body has been inactive since December 2019 when the U.S. blocked appointing new members, preventing it from having a quorum to decide on appeals to WTO rulings.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


House Members Don't Press EPA's Regan On Biofuels, Ag Regs The second appearance before Congress on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not see issues on biofuels raised nor was there a major focus on any agricultural regulatory issues in the House Appropriations subcommittee session. EPA Administrator Michael Regan reiterated his stance that EPA will work with all stakeholders on various issues. Asked how to address jobs in fossil fuel, coal, natural gas and oil sectors with the push toward electric vehicles (EVs), Regan said EPA would seek to "leverage the technologies to do so," noting that there need to be a "robust conversation" on how to achieve the goals. He noted EPA will come forward in July with its proposal on tailpipe emissions from automobiles and in September relative to methane emissions. On agriculture, Regan reiterated he has established good working relationship with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and referenced his actions as a state environmental regulator in terms of addressing issues in the sector. In his appearance Wednesday before a Senate panel on the FY 2022 budget, Regan said that no fuel technology is being excluded as the agency looks at meeting climate goals. He observed that there needed to be a glide path toward alternatives like EVs, and that "ethanol plays a significant role in providing those resources here and now today and will evolve as we start to look at the new futures for advanced biofuels and electric vehicles." As for corn-based ethanol, Regan said, "Agriculture is at the table and biofuel plays a role in reducing our carbon footprint and so do many of the voluntary practices of our ag community to capture carbon and operate in a sustainable manner." His comments still are not perhaps providing a greater deal of clarity on issues surrounding biofuels and other regulatory actions that are expected from the agency.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Starting a new week, traders will check the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT for any export sale announcements. An index of U.S. manufacturing is due out at 9 a.m. and follows similar indices for other countries overnight. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. NASS has a monthly Fats and Oils report at 2 p.m., followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the eastern Midwest and Southeast Monday, offering useful crop moisture while interrupting planting. Some local flooding is also noted in portions of the central Plains following heavy weekend rain. We'll also see periods of rain and some snow in the far western Plains with beneficial moisture. Dry conditions are in store elsewhere including the drought-affected northern Plains and Northwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


USTR Tai Lays Out More Of The Biden Trade Agenda U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai faced lawmaker questions Wednesday on trade policy plans by the Biden administration as she testified on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget plan for USTR. She touted the four-month pause in tariffs between the U.S., UK and European Union (EU) as a significant move and stressed to lawmakers she was committed to ending the dispute that goes back more than 10 years. As for the U.S.-China Phase One agreement, Tai indicated that she was looking forward to kicking off a top-to-bottom review of the agreement and China's compliance. "The picture is more nuanced than you might think, by just looking at the trade data," Tai told lawmakers. A top-level review meeting between the U.S. and China has not yet been scheduled, but Tai said such a session would be scheduled "soon." Tai also pledged to use the enforcement mechanisms in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), noting she has raised compliance issues with her Mexican counterpart and the U.S. has already launched dispute settlement mechanisms on dairy with Canada. On matters regarding Mexican bans on imports of glyphosate and GMO corn and other ag-trade barriers, Tai said USTR is "looking at it in terms of what our options are to resolve these issues soon." There was not perhaps a lot more information about the Biden trade plans than was known ahead of the meeting and it may be somewhat surprising that it appears USTR has either just started or will start a broad review of the Phase One agreement with China. This appears to underline that trade policy has not been a high focus for the Biden administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


Biden Plan Carves Out Exemption For Ag Land, But Proposes Big Limit On 1031 Exchanges The $1.8-trillion plan unveiled in a joint session of Congress Wednesday evening by President Joe Biden included proposed increases in the capital gains tax rates with an exception included for agricultural land. USDA released an analysis, noting the plan would defer any tax liability on family farms "as long as the farm remains family-owned and operated." USDA also said assets subject to the $1 million-per-person exemption would continue to receive a step-up in basis when sold. Only 2% of farms would owe any tax, and that would be on non-farm assets, USDA detailed. "No capital gains taxes at death for family farms. This plan includes a special protection for family-owned farms and businesses," USDA said. "It defers any tax liability on family farms as long as the farm remains family-owned and operated. No tax is due if the farm stays in the family. No one should have to sell a family farm they inherit to pay taxes and the President's tax reform guarantees that." There would an exclusion on the first $2 million in capital gains for married couples. "This plan also excludes the first $2 million of gains per couple ($2.5 million if the farm also includes the family home) from capital gains tax and heirs continue to get step up in basis on those first $2 million in gains. If an heir decides to sell the family farm, the first $2 million in gains is tax free." In a proposed change that will raise concerns for agriculture, the plan proposes dramatically curtail what are called 1031 exchanges which allow taxpayers to defer gains on real estate if they exchange that for a like property within six months of the sale. The plan would end the 1031 exchanges on real estate profits of more than $500,000.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


Ag Businesses Report Favorable First Quarter Earnings Earning reports topped headlines on Wall Street this week, and agriculture businesses seem to be doing well. Syngenta reported first-quarter sales of $7.1 billion, up 20 percent for the same period last year. BASF reported first-quarter sales were up 16 percent, to 19.4 billion euros, or $23.52 billion. AGCO reported sales for the first quarter were approximately $2.4 billion, an increase of 23.4 percent. Meanwhile, ADM reported first-quarter earnings of $689 million. The company says its Ag Services and Oilseeds sector achieved a record first quarter, with operating profits 84 percent higher year over year. Tractor Supply Company reported net sales for the first quarter of 2021 increased 42.5 percent to $2.79 billion from $1.96 billion in the first quarter of 2020. Finally, CME Group reports revenue of $1.3 billion for the first quarter of 2021. CME Group Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Terry Duffy says, "Trading volumes in Q1 have returned to pre-pandemic levels.” ************************************************************************************ NCBA Stands Ready to Fight for Sound Tax Policy In his American Families Plan, President Joe Biden targets several provisions of the tax code to raise approximately $1.5 trillion in revenue over the next ten years. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says those provisions must not burden the nation's farmers and ranchers. Biden's plan would repeal the deferral of gain for real estate, like-kind exchanges for gains greater than $500,000 and eliminate stepped-up basis for gains over $1 million, or $2.5 million per couple. According to the plan, the reform will be designed “with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.” NCBA Senior Executive Director of Government Affairs Danielle Beck says, "When considering how to offset the cost of a comprehensive infrastructure package, it is essential that Congress preserve sound tax policies for family-owned agricultural operations." Beck adds, "We firmly believe that it would be irresponsible to pay for an infrastructure bill on the backs of farmers and ranchers." ************************************************************************************ Mexican Supreme Court Overturns Ban on U.S. Fresh Potato Imports The Mexican Supreme Court ruled by a unanimous vote of five to zero in favor of overturning a 2017 lower court decision that blocked the importation of U.S. fresh potatoes. The ruling, cheered by the National Potato Council and Potatoes USA, marks the end of a decade-long legal process that began when Mexico's potato industry sued its government to prevent competition from imports. National Potato Council vice president of trade affairs, Jared Balcom, says, “This ruling is consistent with Mexico's obligations under the USMCA and the WTO.” Balcom adds the ruling represents a major step forward for the industry. Since it first allowed for the importation of fresh U.S. potatoes in 2003, Mexico has restricted those potatoes to a 26 kilometer-area along the U.S.-Mexico border. That restriction has violated Mexico's obligations under numerous trade agreements. In a statement, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “This decision is important for American agriculture and for positive bilateral relations between the United States and Mexico.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Updates to Livestock Insurance Policies The Department of Agriculture this week announced updates to livestock insurance policies for 2022 and beyond. USDA says the updates are designed to improve options for producers and to create additional opportunities for producers to participate. The changes include ensuring the Class Pricing Option remains available for purchase even when either the Class III or Class IV milk price is not published. USDA is also relaxing records requirements by allowing monthly total pounds of milk and milk components to be acceptable records instead of daily. The Livestock Gross Margin is available for cattle, dairy, and swine producers and provides protection against loss of gross margin, the market value of livestock minus feed costs. The changes include allowing producers to purchase coverage on a weekly basis instead of monthly. Risk Management Agency Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy says, “We strongly feel that these updates will benefit producers and their dairy and livestock operations in the years to come.” ************************************************************************************ USDA to Invest $31 Million for Restoration Work in Gulf States The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced $31 million in funding to advance restoration work and improve water quality in the Gulf Coast states impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The funds will support three priority programs and related project work approved by the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration, or RESTORE Council, as part of a multi-year process of collaborative planning and public engagement throughout the Gulf. USDA's Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service, along with state forestry agencies in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi, will leverage the funds to restore forest health, improve coastal ecosystems and provide technical and financial assistance to private landowners. The USDA-funded activities include the Gulf Coast Conservation Reserve Program, the Enhancing Gulf Waters through Forested Watershed Restoration Program, and the Apalachicola Regional Restoration Initiative. The RESTORE Council was established in 2012 by the RESTORE Act, a federal law enacted in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. ************************************************************************************ Texas Ag Commissioner Joins Discrimination Lawsuit over COVID Relief Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller this week joined a lawsuit against the federal government. Miller claims the COVID relief plan passed in March discriminates against white farmers and ranchers. Miller, a rancher himself, joined the lawsuit as a private citizen, not as a public official. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 offers relief to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, which the plan defines as people of color. Miller’s complaint against the Department of Agriculture, according to the Texas Tribune, says the definition in the program fails to include “white ethnic groups that have unquestionably suffered” because of their ethnicity, such as those of Irish, Italian, German, Jewish and eastern European heritage. America First Legal, a conservative group that claims, “the radical left is using its power inside and outside of the government to destroy our country,” filed the lawsuit. The organization says the Constitution forbids government action that discriminates based upon race, alleging the Biden administration is “actively engaging in outright racial discrimination.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department's employment cost index for the first quarter and a report on U.S. personal incomes for March are both due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index of April is set for 9 a.m. CDT. Otherwise, traders will be watching the latest weather forecasts and any news of export sales. Weather Dry conditions will cover most primary crop areas Friday. Precipitation will focus in south Texas through the lower Delta with possible flooding. This pattern is generally favorable for fieldwork and planting; however, extreme wildfire threat covers the drought-affected northern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


Biden Plan to Protect Farms from Elimination of Capital Gains Tax Breaks Ahead of Wednesday night's joint session of Congress address by President Joe Biden, the White House released details of the American Families Plan. The bulk of the $1.8 trillion package focuses on education, direct support to low- and middle-income families and extending tax breaks to families with children. Biden plans to end other tax breaks to pay for the package, including stepped-up basis. However, Biden says, “The reform will be designed with protections so that family-owned businesses and farms will not have to pay taxes when given to heirs who continue to run the business.” American Farm Bureau Federation Economist Veronica Nigh recently explained, “A long-standing provision of U.S. tax law is that a capital gains tax is not imposed when assets are transferred at death to an heir. Furthermore, tax law allows the heir to increase their basis in the asset to fair market value without paying capital gains tax," which is referred to as a step-up in basis. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Find Barriers to Carbon Markets Farmers are struggling to enter carbon markets. A new report from Reuters says a climate push from the Biden administration is sparking interest in farm-based carbon credits. Companies like Microsoft are purchasing credits and others like Bayer and Cargill have subsidized projects to incentivize farmers to reduce emissions. The Department of Agriculture is monitoring the success of the carbon markets with an eye on future farm bill programs. However, a Nebraska farmer told Reuters, "It's very new; it's still the wild west." Lukas Fricke is generating carbon credits for Microsoft but expects the $20 per credit to not cover the cost of expenses to participate. Much of the cost to companies purchasing credits goes towards verifying carbon-capture claims. Ecosystem Services Market Consortium executive director Debbie Reed says, “Until we get to a market where there is liquidity, we will continue to see projects without buyers, and we will continue to see buyers without the supply they need.” Her organization is investing in satellite and remote sensing technology to help lower verification costs. ************************************************************************************ Dairy Groups Announce Federal Milk Pricing Proposal Four Midwestern dairy groups this week announced a Federal Milk Marketing Orders proposal. The proposal aims to create long-term stability in fluid milk pricing and reducing the likelihood of negative producer price differentials that cut into farmers' revenue last year during the pandemic. The proposal from the Dairy Business Association, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Minnesota Milk and Nebraska State Dairy Association comes after the groups began studying options early this year. They say the proposal, which they are calling "Class III Plus," aims to build upon the current pricing system, recent proposals by dairy cooperatives, and dairy farmer petitions to define a better Class I pricing system. The Class III Plus proposal would, among other things, tie the Class I fluid skim milk price to the Class III cheese skim milk price plus an adjuster and do away with advanced pricing, a cause of the negative Producer Price Differentials last year. The proposal is also revenue-neutral, therefore more equitable among farmers, processors and customers. ************************************************************************************ Dates Announced for Export Exchange 2022 Export Exchange will return next year, as organizers announced the event this week planned for October 12-14, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The dates were announced in a joint statement, including U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Ryan LeGrand, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor, and Renewable Fuels Association President Geoff Cooper. The statement says, "COVID dictated we cancel Export Exchange in 2020, and sadly, we have officially canceled it once again for 2021," while noting its return in 2022. The groups say Export Exchange allows overseas attendees the opportunity to build relationships with U.S. suppliers of distiller’s dried grains with solubles, or DDGS, corn, sorghum, barley and other commodities, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in grain sales. Export Exchange, the biennial event co-sponsored by the Council, RFA and Growth Energy, is expected to bring together 200 international buyers and end-users of coarse grains and co-products, with approximately 300 U.S. suppliers and agribusiness representatives. ************************************************************************************ USDA to Incentivize Purchase of Fruits and Vegetables under WIC Participants in the Department of Agriculture’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children may soon see a temporary increase to their benefits. The increase will apply to the purchase of fruits and vegetables. With $490 million provided by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, USDA has offered the option of boosting the cash-value voucher benefit by more than three times the current amount for up to four months to provide additional relief during the pandemic. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “We need to promote nutrition security alongside food security to ensure all people at all times have access to nutritious foods.” The cash-value voucher allows participants to purchase fruits and vegetables as part of their WIC food package. Under normal circumstances, the monthly cash-value voucher is $9 per child and $11 for pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women. The American Rescue Plan allows state agencies to temporarily provide up to $35 per child and adult, per month. ************************************************************************************ Biden to Nominate California Ag Official to USDA President Joe Biden this week announced intent to nominate Jenny Moffit as Agriculture Department undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. Moffitt is Undersecretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture, where she previously served as Deputy Secretary from 2015-18. Before that, Moffitt spent ten years as Managing Director at Dixon Ridge Farms, her family’s organic walnut farm and processing operation. The White House says, “As a farmer and policymaker, Moffitt has engaged with agricultural stakeholders on the critically important balance of sustaining our environment, strengthening our rural economies, and building healthy communities.” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack adds, “Jenny says that growing up and working on the farm solidified the importance of taking care of the land and the people who farm it.” If confirmed, Moffitt will join a mission area that is focused on facilitating the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products, ensuring the health and care of animals and plants, and setting national and international standards.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Expanded Family Plan Pushed President Joe Biden unveiled a sweeping $1.8 trillion plan to expand educational opportunities and child care for families, funded in part by the largest tax increases on wealthy Americans in decades, Bloomberg is reporting today. Called the American Families Plan, the president's third major legislative proposal combines $1 trillion in spending with $800 billion in tax cuts and credits for middle- and lower-income families. The plan would make pre-kindergarten and community college free across the country, extend the child tax credit through 2025 and make permanent an expansion of the earned income tax credit to childless adults with low incomes, provide direct support to families for child care, finance teacher training and create a national paid family leave program Bloomberg says. Biden's tax hikes include raising the top rate for individuals back to 39.6%, changing the treatment of capital gains so that wealthy people don't benefit from lower rates on their investment income, eliminating the "carried interest" provision that benefits fund managers, and greatly increasing funding for the Internal Revenue Service to enforce tax collection and audit wealthy taxpayers. His proposals are uncertain in Congress, where Democrats hold a working Senate majority only by virtue of Vice President Kamala Harris's tie-breaking vote. Ahead of Wednesday's speech, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said he expects an “aspirational” presentation that “gives you encouragement” on “how we should all unite and come together.” "It'll be an upbeat speech," Manchin told reporters yesterday. Manchin has publicly said Biden and congressional Democrats need to work with Republicans on a bipartisan infrastructure package rather than immediately trying to forge a partisan path ahead. He said yesterday he's satisfied Biden is doing his best so far. "Sure, they can always do more but he has," Manchin said. "He's reaching out now, and even on this infrastructure bill, you haven't seen him double down and say we've got to pass it all in one big package." Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., also said bipartisan talks on an infrastructure bill are going well. "We continue to be having conversation," Wicker told reporters on Tuesday. "There's a nice back and forth, an exchange of ideas. I think they're interested in our proposal." Over the past 14 months, Congress passed three pandemic-relief packages that injected almost $5 trillion into the economy. The president will today make the case for an additional $1.8 trillion in spending and tax credits on initiatives from education and child care to paid family and medical leave. And that's on top of $2.25 trillion in infrastructure, home health care and other outlays proposed last month. The raft of new spending would be funded by a host of tax hikes directed at corporations and wealthy Americans. It's all aimed at raising productivity, expanding the workforce and spreading the benefits of the U.S. economy more equitably. There is no sign that Republicans will go along with any of Biden's proposal, leaving Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., with a narrow majority and hardly any votes to spare. Bloomberg sees this as a potentially tight spot “if her Democratic rank-and-file members don't let up on their demands.” In the Senate, expanding Biden's proposal could jeopardize the ability of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to get it through an evenly divided chamber using special "budget reconciliation" rules. In the meantime, Biden urged Americans hesitant to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to reconsider, citing new federal guidance that inoculated people can begin socializing outdoors without masks. "Gathering with a group of friends in a park, going on a picnic -- as long as you're vaccinated and outdoors, you can do it without a mask," Biden said at the White House yesterday. "If you're vaccinated, you can do more things, more safely." Roughly 141 million Americans have received at least one dose of a vaccine, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, but the pace of vaccinations has dropped under 3 million a day despite abundant supply. "For those who haven't gotten their vaccine yet, especially if you're younger or thinking you don't need it, this is another great reason to go get vaccinated now." Biden said. "Today is another day we can take a step back to the normalcy of before," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky at a news briefing announcing the changes today. She pointed to a "really hopeful decline" of about 21% in the 7-day average for cases. The CDC's new recommendations, which represent one of the most significant relaxations of guidelines since the pandemic began, are complex and wide-ranging. They come with almost 30% of Americans fully inoculated and with increases starting to slow in the daily coronavirus caseload. At the same time, the guidelines send a message that getting vaccinated may offer a clear route to a more normal lifestyle at a time when a large number of Americans remain hesitant. Also President Biden has said he intends to send vaccines from the U.S. to India as that nation battles the worst COVID-19 surge on Earth – but he did not specify timing for a decision or shipments. He said he and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had discussed "when we'll be able to send actual vaccines to India, which is my intention to do." In the meantime, the U.S. is shipping aid including the therapeutic drug remdisivir and machinery for vaccine manufacturing, he said. So, we will see. This week has turned out to be highly political in its focus, and more than a few of the key trends are positive. Nevertheless, many risks remain and producers should watch current developments very closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


New Trade Deals Continue as Question for Biden Administration Wrapping up trade deals with the UK and Kenya remain open questions for the Biden administration, with a discussion between U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and UK Secretary of State for International Trade Liz Truss yielding no update on the pending trade deal. Readouts of the session from the U.S. and UK noted the two discussed "issues of mutual importance," including "industrial subsidies, climate change, and the large civil aircraft dispute," the USTR readout said. But neither side made mention of the pending trade negotiations that were started under the Trump administration. As for Kenya, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday will meet with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Raychelle Omamo. A U.S. State Department fact sheet released ahead of the meeting noted that two sides launched bilateral trade negotiations in July 2020. “The two sides are currently reviewing the negotiations before deciding the next steps,” the fact sheet noted. The Biden administration has made clear that negotiating new trade deals is lower on their priority list on trade with more attention likely on enforcement of existing trade deals. It appears that is still the case.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


Senate Agriculture Panel Met With USDA's Vilsack Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee met with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday in what was an off-the-record session, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. While not sharing what other lawmakers brought up or Vilsack's responses, Grassley told reporters he raised issues on "protecting farmers from corporations." He noted provisions in farm bills that addressed some of those issues and he called on USDA to “complete the work of Congress” on that front. While he slipped and said that Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., brought up biofuel assistance that Congress authorized in the December COVID aid plan, Grassley said his intention was to raise the issue as it is "very important" for his home state of Iowa which is "number one" in biofuel production. He noted that former USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue had told Congress he needed more authority to be able to provide financial assistance to biofuel producers which was provided in the COVID aid plan.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. Sales have been lower lately, but in case you haven't noticed, there's not a lot of excess corn or soybeans available. U.S. weekly jobless claims, the first estimate of first-quarter U.S. GDP and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are set for the same time. An index of pending home sales for March will be out at 9 a.m., followed by natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. CDT. Weather Moderate to heavy rain with some flooding is in store Thursday from the eastern Midwest southwest to southern Texas. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Wildfire threat in the northern Plains is noted for Friday.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


Vilsack: No Land Grab or Beef Diet Limits Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says there’s no truth to the talk that the Biden Administration wants to take land away from people and discourage consumers from eating beef to help fight climate change. Vilsack says the president wants to protect 30 percent of the nation’s land by 2030 but doesn’t plan to use eminent domain to take possession of that land. The Hagstrom Report says Vilsack told ag journalists that the talk of a land grab is really off base. “There’s no intent to take away land from farmers,” he says. “The goal is to give farmers more opportunities.” Vilsack also talked about rumors that the Biden Administration plans to limit how much beef Americans eat. Vilsack says there is no effort in place to limit the intake of beef coming out of the White House or USDA. “In the political world, games get played, and issues get brought into play,” Vilsack says. The rumor seems to have started thanks to a University of Michigan study on beef. The study says cutting the intake of all animal-based foods by 50 percent and replacing that with equivalent quantities of plant-based food would decrease greenhouse gas emissions by 35 percent. “There’s no policy paper in the administration suggesting that people eat less meat,” he adds. ********************************************************************************************** CME Group Raises Daily Price Limits on Grains After a biannual review, the CME Group is expanding the daily price limits for the Chicago Board of Trade grain and soy futures, and the new limits go into effect on May 2. The new limits include 40 cents for corn, currently at a limit of 25 cents a bushel. Soybean limits are now one dollar per bushel, with the current limit at 70 cents. Soy Meal is up to $30 per short ton, soil oil is now 3.5 cents a pound, and soft and hard red wheat futures are both up to 45 cents per bushel. CME price limits represent the maximum price range permitted for a futures contract in each trading session. Price limits vary by product, as does what happens when a limit gets reached. “Some of the price limits are expanded by 50 percent,” says Jerry Gulke of the Gulke Group. “That’s a lot of volatility.” Gulke also tells Ag Web Dot Com that limit up and down on corn will now be 80 cents. That’s $160 per acre on 200-bushel corn. On 10,000 acres, gross income could move almost $1.5 million per day. Now that the trading limits have widened further, Gulke says it should give volatility a whole new meaning in future months. ********************************************************************************************** Indiana Governor Defends Biofuel Producers and Farmers On Monday night, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb vetoed Senate Enrolled Act 303, legislation that would have stalled sales of homegrown biofuels in two ways: The first is by mandating confusing labels on E15 fuel dispensers and by muddying key regulations on retailers seeking to offer the lower-cost blend. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says her organization is deeply grateful to Governor Holcomb and Lt. Governor Crouch for listening to the concerns of Hoosier biofuel producers and standing up for rural families. “From the very start, SEA 303 got fueled by a wave of misinformation,” Skor says. “Hoosiers already enjoy legal access to lower-carbon, lower-cost E15 at 79 locations, and this veto is an important step toward ensuring greater competition at the pump, lower prices for drivers, and stronger markets for Indiana farmers.” Earlier this month, Growth Energy wrote a letter to Governor Holcomb asking that he veto the legislation, joining a chorus of ag and biofuel leaders in the state in opposition. State groups that worked to get the legislation vetoed included the Indiana Ethanol Producers Association, Indiana Corn Growers Association, the Indiana Ethanol Plant General Managers, and the Indiana Mayors and County Commissioners. ********************************************************************************************** America Grows Act Introduced in the Senate The America Grows Act of 2021 was introduced on Monday in the Senate. It would significantly increase U.S. public investment in agricultural research and development. The bill would increase funding for agricultural research by five percent every year on an inflation-adjusted basis at four USDA agencies over the next decade. Those agencies are the Agricultural Research Service, the Economic Research Service, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Backers of the legislation say more support for agricultural research is badly needed. U.S. public funding has declined in real dollars since 2003, while investments in other forms of domestic research have risen dramatically. The U.S. has fallen far behind its major competitors like China and Brazil when it comes to agricultural research funding. However, the America Grows Act would help to reverse the trend and reassert American leadership on the global stage. A recent study in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics says agricultural research has one of the highest returns of any public investment, estimated at $17 for every $1 spent. Maintaining U.S. competitiveness is vital to ensuring abundant, affordable food supplies, as well as supporting the economy. Food and agriculture account for nearly $3 trillion of the U.S. GDP. *********************************************************************************************** Export Inspections of Corn and Soybeans Rise While Wheat Drops Week-to-week exports of corn and beans rose while wheat assessments declined. Corn inspections in the seven days ending on April 22 came in at 1.95 million tons. That’s up from 1.56 million metric tons the previous week and was almost double the 1.08 million tons two weeks ago. Soybean assessments last week totaled almost 224,000 metric tons, up from 222,065 tons the previous week. The USDA says that’s well below the 561,063 tons inspected during the same week a year earlier. Wheat inspections through April 22 totaled just over 564,000 tons, down from almost 626,700 a week before. Last week’s total, however, was up from the 506,700 tons assessed during the same week in 2020. Since the beginning of the marketing year on September 1, the USDA has inspected 41.2 million metric tons of corn for offshore delivery, well above the same period the year before. Soybean inspections since September are at 55.3 million metric tons, ahead of the 33.4 million tons inspected at the same point last year. Wheat assessments since the start of its marketing year on June 1 are at 22.6 million metric tons, just ahead of last year’s 22.5 million tons. *********************************************************************************************** Renewable Fuel Credit Prices Climb to Highest Point Since 2013 The price of renewable fuel credits soared to its highest point on record early this week. Reuters says higher costs for soybean oil pushed up both renewable fuel and biomass-based credits. Renewable fuel credits for 2021 traded at $1.50 each, after trading at $1.44 in the previous session. Biomass-based credits traded at $1.58 each, up from $1.52 during the prior session. Both of those are the highest prices since Reuters began reporting the data for renewable fuel credits in 2013 and biomass-based credits in 2014. Front-month soybean oil, which can be used as a feedstock in biomass-based fuels like biodiesel, traded at 67.71 cents per pound on Tuesday, their highest point since 2008. The credits, known as RINs, rose at the same time the U.S. Supreme Court was hearing oral arguments for a case involving the Renewable Fuel Standard, which requires refiners to blend biofuels into their fuel mix each year or buy RINs from those that do. The Supreme Court’s decision around the case will likely heavily influence the future of the RFS and biofuels.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Biden Taxes Collide with Political Reality President Joe Biden is poised to unveil a plan that to raise taxes on the income, investments and estates of the wealthiest Americans to levels not seen in more than four decades--and that that move will trigger "intense debate in Congress about whether and how to address income inequality," Bloomberg reported. Biden's "American Families Plan," itself featuring the biggest expansion of federal support for lower-income and middle-class Americans in decades, will be offset by a series of tax increases on the wealthy, administration officials say. The president will unveil his program during the Wednesday night State of the Union speech to Congress. To pay for a bill that could top $1 trillion, Americans earning over $400,000 will face higher marginal income tax rates. Those taking in $1 million or more will get hit with a levy of up to 43.4% on their capital gains. The last time rates got close to that, Jimmy Carter was president. Biden is also likely to propose increases in the number of Americans subjected to the estate tax. He campaigned on closing popular tax breaks including a provision that lets appreciated assets go untaxed when they are inherited, along with eliminating the carried-interest tax breaks – which let private equity managers cut their Internal Revenue Service bills. Republicans are likely to oppose the tax increases en masse, but the White House is also risking a struggle with Democratic lawmakers. Some of those from New York, New Jersey and other high-tax states in particular were already mobilizing to demand relief for their constituencies even before Biden's official announcements. With the 50-50 Senate and a narrow margin in the House, long negotiations loom. In the meantime, Republicans may be ready to back as much as $900 billion in infrastructure spending, according to a senior senator, Bloomberg says – though that would still cover less than half of Biden's proposal. "There's a deal to be done on infrastructure," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said on Sunday. Graham suggested "to not pay for some of the infrastructure spending immediately because I think it over time pays for itself." There are other interesting proposals afoot--for example, President Biden is betting $100 billion he can deliver a lifeline to rural America, and a boost to the economy overall, by making high-speed internet available to all Americans. The plan could help millions, especially in agrarian states where the Democratic party's support is weakest. Estimating the precise impact, however, is seen as virtually impossible because no one truly knows how many Americans lack access to the internet. In the meantime, there are other fights aplenty, Bloomberg thinks. One focuses on judges. However, the administration's aggressive timeline for vetting potential judges while seeking nominees who would bring experiential, racial, and gender diversity to the federal bench is proving difficult for several Democratic senators to meet, Bloomberg says, The report notes that the once-a-decade battle to redraw the U.S. political map promises to be one of the most contentious ever when it kicks off this week, shadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and hindered by partisan divisions stoked during the Trump's presidency. The process has begun with the release from last year's constitutionally mandated count of every person living in the U.S., which happens every 10 years – numbers that are already emerging and are determining which states gain seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and which ones lose. Meanwhile, an Arizona judge demanded more information about an audit of Maricopa County's 2020 general election results by a group called the Cyber Ninjas after the state's Democratic Party argued it was being conducted by "unqualified and completely unhinged actors." Superior Court Judge Christopher Coury in Phoenix ordered the auditors to release documents explaining their internal procedures. Also, seven decades after the U.S. Supreme Court said the NAACP didn't have to give Alabama its membership list, so prominent liberal groups are in the unlikely position of supporting two conservative charities in a challenge to California's requirement that they disclose their top donors. In a Supreme Court argument set for this week, the Americans for Prosperity Foundation and the Thomas More Law Center will contend that California can't be trusted to keep the information private – and that it's opening up the groups' supporters to threats and harassment, much like Alabama once did to the NAACP. After three months of vaccination across the U.S., a majority of American adults have gotten shots – and the effort will soon shift from mass inoculation to "mop-up," Bloomberg says. Over the next few weeks, what the vaccine campaign looks like is going to change dramatically. Finally, President Biden is exploring the idea of a border adjustment tax that would slap a levy on imports from nations with weaker climate policies, according to John Kerry, the administration's special climate envoy. "President Biden, I know, is particularly interested in evaluating the border adjustment mechanism," Kerry said on Bloomberg TV. "He wants to look at that and see whether that's something that we need to deploy." So, we will see. Clearly there are controversies to go around and a razor-thin and infinitely toxic climate over it all. A key will be whether the administration's rapid recovery hopes turn out to be true. Certainly, these are developments producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


Census Population Shifts Will Bring More Changes In Congress US population growth was at its slowest level since the 1930s over the past decade, according to updated Census data released Monday. The changes in population will also shift political maps, with the long-running trend of the South and West gaining population -- and congressional representation -- at the expense of the Northeast and the Midwest, is still intact. Texas has gained two more votes in Congress and the Electoral College for the next decade, while Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon each gained one seat, based on the first set of results from the 2020 Census released Monday. The seven states losing one vote each: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Census will release data later this year that will outline growth in population centers that will assist states in redrawing congressional maps.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


CFAP 2 Payouts Climb To $13.5 Billion Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) have reached $13.50 billion as of April 25, up from $13.45 billion the prior week. Acreage-based payments now total $6.23 billion, livestock payments are at $3.43 billion, sales commodities total $2.57 billion, dairy is at $1.21 billion, and eggs/broilers payouts are at $57.29 million. CFAP 1 payments are now at $10.56 billion, up from $10.55 billion the prior week. As for the CFAP Additional Assistance program, no payout information has yet been made available from USDA even as the Farm Service Agency said that actions under CFAP include processing of CFAP AA payments. "USDA will finalize routine decisions and minor formula adjustments on applications and begin processing payments for certain applications filed for this program," according to FSA.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts and any news of an export sale continue to get quick attention from traders. The Energy Department's weekly inventory is due out at 9:30 a.m. CDT, including an update of last week's ethanol production. At 1 p.m. CDT, the Federal Reserve will conclude its two-day meeting and is expected to keep interest rates near zero. Weather Rain is in store across much of the central U.S. Wednesday, including a threat of flash flooding in the southeastern Plains and southern Midwest. Severe storm potential is also high in the far southern Plains and portions of the eastern Midwest. The rain will delay planting but offers favorable crop moisture. Drought areas of the northern Plains, Northwest and Canadian Prairies will be bypassed by this rain event.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


Biofuels Coalition Readies for Oral Arguments in Supreme Court In oral arguments scheduled for Tuesday morning, four agriculture and biofuel organizations will argue that the U.S. Supreme Court should affirm a unanimous 2020 decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. The Tenth Circuit decision held that only small refineries that have remained continuously exempt from obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard are eligible for future extensions of the compliance exemption. The four organizations comprising the Biofuels Coalition—the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and the American Coalition for Ethanol—will share time during Tuesday’s oral arguments with the U.S. Department of Justice, which will be representing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. EPA announced in February that it supports the Tenth Circuit’s decision. The coalition claims that the EPA had exceeded its authority in creating new exemptions, stating, “The Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling is consistent with the Clean Air Act, congressional intent, and the purpose of the RFS.” ************************************************************************************ U.S. Department of Agriculture Announces Key Staff Appointments The Department of Agriculture last week announced the names of individuals who will hold senior positions in Washington, D.C. Karama Neal was named Administrator for the Rural Business-Cooperative Service. Most recently, Neal served as president of Southern Bancorp Community Partners. Mike Schmidt was named senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary. Previously, Schmidt served as senior advisor for USDA’s Farm Production and Conservation Mission Area since January 20, 2021. Lisa Ramirez was named Director of the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. She most recently served as the Chief Innovative Officer for the Lubbock Independent School District in Lubbock, Texas. Finally, Doug McKalip was named senior advisor in the Office of the Secretary. Most recently, McKalip was a senior advisor for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says they will “play an integral role in our mission to create a department that represents and serves all Americans, addresses the climate crisis, builds new and fair markets for American producers, and rebuilds rural America.” ************************************************************************************ Dairy Farmers to Seek Emergency USDA Hearing on Class I Mover Reform The National Milk Producers Federation’s Board of Directors voted last week to request an emergency USDA hearing on a Federal Milk Marketing Order proposal. The proposal, NMPF says, would restore fairness for farmers in the Class I fluid milk price mover. The endorsement of the board, which represents dairy farmers and cooperatives nationwide, follows approval from the organization’s Executive Committee. The NMPF plan would ensure that farmers recover lost revenue and establish more equitable distribution of risk among dairy farmers and processors. The current mover was adopted in the 2018 farm bill and intended to be revenue neutral while facilitating increased price risk management by fluid milk bottlers. But the new Class I mover contributed to disorderly marketing conditions last year during the height of the pandemic and cost dairy farmers over $725 million in lost income. NMPF’s proposal would help recoup the lost revenue and ensure that neither farmers nor processors are disproportionately harmed by future significant price disruptions. ************************************************************************************ Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Brand Launches Sustainability Campaign The Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. brand, managed by National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, launched a new beef campaign highlighting real beef farmers and ranchers. Consumers will be invited to learn more about how cattle farmers and ranchers around the country are employing sustainable practices to care for the land and produce high-quality beef. Recent scientific research funded by the Beef Checkoff shows that due to decades of continuous improvement efforts on farms and ranches around the country, the U.S. is the leader in sustainable beef production. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, greenhouse gas from beef cattle only represents two percent of emissions in the United States. Additionally, 90 percent of what cattle eat is forage and plant leftovers that people can’t eat. The campaign will come to life in various ways, including new advertising, an interactive map on BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com, a series of interviews showcasing sustainability from farm to table on local TV and radio stations, influencer partnerships and content partnerships. ************************************************************************************ USDA to Provide Critical Nutrition Assistance to 30M+ Kids Over the Summer The Department of Agriculture Monday announced a new effort funded by the American Rescue Plan to provide adequate nutrition to more than 30 million children over the summer. The effort expands the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer, or P-EBT benefits. USDA says summer months are difficult for low-income children because they lack access to school meals that fill a nutrition gap during the school year. This summer, USDA will offer P-EBT benefits to low-income children of all ages. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “The expansion of P-EBT benefits over the summer is a first-of-its-kind, game-changing intervention to reduce child hunger in the United States.” P-EBT was established in March 2020 to provide food dollars to families to make up for meals missed when schools have closed due to COVID-19. The program was set to expire on September 30, 2021, but through the American Rescue Plan Act, benefits are now available for the duration of the pandemic, including during the summer months. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Reach 2019 Seasonal Price Level The nation’s average price of gasoline is again on the rise, posting a slight 0.4 cent per gallon rise from a week ago to $2.87 per gallon, according to GasBuddy. The national average now stands 2.0 cents higher than a month ago and $1.13 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has fallen 0.3 cents in the last week and stands at $3.07 per gallon. Nationally, gas prices now match the average prices seen on the same dates in 2019. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “perhaps we may see additional upside as most states in the nation have finished the transition to EPA-mandated summer gasoline.” While gasoline demand did dip last week for the third straight, it was yet another small decline, and as temperatures continue to warm ahead of summer. The Energy Information Administration last week reported a key headline- implied gasoline demand rose over 9 million barrels for the first time since last August- a metric that has weakened over the last few weeks.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Worried About Dollar Outlook Bloomberg is reporting this week that the most popular currency trade at the beginning of the year has splintered now as Wall Street takes to opposing sides on the outlook for the fate of the dollar in the world's pandemic recovery. JPMorgan Asset Management and T. Rowe Price see the dollar weakening as U.S. economic exceptionalism wanes, while PineBridge Investments expects it to strengthen. Currencies from the euro to the Brazilian real – which suffered in the first quarter – have attempted rallies this month leaving the greenback sitting at a closely-watched technical crossroads. "You have that idiosyncratic U.S. rates outperformance story being offset by the global cyclical upswing and by expensive valuations on the dollar," said Ian Samson, a multi-asset fund manager at Fidelity International in Hong Kong, who is long the currency against the euro. "We see significant crosswinds blowing the dollar in different directions." While most on Wall Street called for a weaker dollar in January, the world's reserve currency went on a run that left speculative funds scrambling to cover some $30 billion of net short positions as Treasury yields climbed and expectations of rate hikes were brought forward. That trade soured this month, with the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index slipping 2.3%. A break of the uptrend in place from its first quarter would point the way to further downside. This week's policy assessment by the Federal Reserve, which has held firm against hawkish expectations, could lend weight to bears. At the crux of dollar forecasts is expectations for the pace of recovery in the world's biggest economy. Credit Suisse Strategist Tantia discusses the outlook for Asian markets and why his firm changed their negative view on the U.S. dollar to neutral. As the world strives to break free from the bruising economic effect of coronavirus restrictions, the U.S. has inoculated more citizens than any other country, giving it an edge in the race to re-open. Coupled with the Biden administration's multi-trillion-dollar fiscal stimulus and a Fed that's allowing inflation to overshoot, it's spurring the likes of PineBridge Investments to predict more dollar gains. "U.S. Treasury yields could see another leg higher once we see some inflation come back," with their premium over peers supporting the dollar, said Omar Slim, portfolio manager at PineBridge in Singapore. "Our view is that the dollar will retain a strengthening bias this year." Ten-year U.S. yields surged more than 80 basis points this year to 1.77% in March, the highest since before the pandemic. While the benchmark stood at 1.58% Monday, it remains well above this year's low of around 0.90%. "Positive U.S. data might very easily kick-start a dollar rally again," wrote Commerzbank AG currency strategist Thu Lan Nguyen in a note last week. "So for now U.S. dollar bears should make sure that they don't get excited too soon." But not everyone is convinced the U.S. will continue outpacing peers. For JPMorgan Asset's Thushka Maharaj, its exceptionalism is set to fade as other nations catch-up on vaccine roll-outs and economic re-openings in the second half of the year. The London-based strategist is keeping tabs on developed markets like Europe, the U.K. and Japan, and sees the euro outperforming the dollar in the medium term. “We are expecting the rebound in these economies to mirror what we are seeing in the U.S. right now,” she said. Signs abound this trend is underway. Coronaviruses cases are rising in all regions except Europe, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday. The European Union is unleashing a new immunization drive to cover the bulk of its population within a few months, while on the economic front, recent PMI data have beaten expectations. The euro has climbed about 3% from a four-month low in March and broke through the key $1.20 level last week. However, some favor other currencies to best the greenback. T. Rowe's Thomas Poullaouec sees more gains for Australia's risk-sensitive dollar as China's economy rebounds from the pandemic and demand for commodities rise. Aberdeen Standard Investments' Edwin Gutierrez is watching for opportunities to boost exposure to riskier developing currencies as "the rest of the world catches up on the vaccine roll-out." In the meantime, vocal bears continue to warn about long-term headwinds for the dollar. "Beyond the near term, we continue to see a structurally negative outlook for the U.S. currency," wrote Goldman Sachs Group Inc. strategists including Zach Pandl in a note Tuesday. "The dollar is still substantially overvalued."

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


Rise in Cost of Eating Out Now Seen Higher for 2021 The cost of eating out will be a little higher than previously forecast by USDA for 2021, but forecasts for overall food price inflation and grocery store prices were kept at prior marks by USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS). Food away from home (restaurant) prices are now expected to increase from 2.5% to 3.5% in 2021 compared with 2020, ERS said, up from 2% to 3% forecast as the increase in March. The higher forecast was "driven by increases in prices for food from 'limited service' vendors (locations where customers pay at the register before eating)," ERS said. Food prices overall so far in 2021 have shown increases compared with 2020, with restaurant prices up 3.7% in March from year ago while food at home (grocery store) prices are up 3.3% from year ago. So far in 2021, food at home prices are up 1% and food away from prices are up 2.3%, while the CPI for all food is up 1.6%.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


New WTO Chief Cautions China Cannot be Made to Feel Targeted Chinese cooperation on trade reforms is most likely to come if it is not made to feel targeted by other countries, according to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the director-general of the World Trade Organization. Several countries have been pushing for reforms on industrial subsidies and state-owned enterprises used by China, with those countries saying the policies distort global trade. "We also have to show China is not being targeted... When China feels it is being targeted, and it's only about China, you get a lot of resistance," Okonjo-Iweala told a European Commission conference. "The dealings I have had with China have been very constructive and I think that if we put the facts on the table about the negative spillovers from such industrial subsidies and share them with China ... they will be willing to look at that." The WTO is working with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OCED) to "put some objective facts on the table," the WTO chief remarked. This comes as the U.S. has continued to seek to build support with allies to take on China's actions on trade and economic policies.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday has an index of U.S. consumer confidence set for 9 a.m. CDT, but no other official reports. Traders will keep a close eye on the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sales news. Weather Tuesday will be very warm, humid and windy over the central and southern U.S. Precipitation will focus on the Northern Plains and northern Midwest with scattered light showers. This combination will favor additional row crop planting progress. Strong thunderstorms with locally heavy rain and potential severe intensity are in store from the southeastern Plains through the southern and eastern Midwest Tuesday evening and Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


Biden Pledges 50 Percent Cut in U.S. Emissions By 2030 During a virtual Earth Day summit with other world leaders, President Joe Biden pledged to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030. A DTN article says biofuel groups are relieved after the president’s plan talked about very low carbon, new generation renewable fuels to help achieve rapid emission reductions in both the auto fleet and aviation. Biofuel groups had expressed concern that the president’s infrastructure plan relied too heavily on electric vehicles. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the reality is the country will be using combustion engines for some time into the future. “We know that biofuels have a better greenhouse gas impact or footprint than petroleum-based fuels,” Vilsack says. “To the extent that we can increase our biofuel blends, that’s going to take us closer to our reduction goals.” Renewable Fuels Association CEO Geoff Cooper says biofuels have already made a significant impact on carbon reduction, lowering emissions by almost one billion tons since 2008. Brian Jennings, CEO of the American Coalition for Ethanol, says the initiative could potentially expand biofuel markets around the globe for American producers. “Other countries have initiated national ethanol policies as a part of their initiatives to decarbonize transportation fuels, and American biofuel producers are ready to play a much bigger role in meeting the targets domestically and around the world,” Jennings says. ********************************************************************************************** Biden’s 30X30 Proposal Causing Concern Among U.S. Agriculture The American Farm Bureau Federation is one of many ag groups calling on the Biden Administration to act responsibly when it comes to conservation. Biden’s goal to conserve at least 30 percent of U.S. land and water by 2030, commonly known as “30X30,” is raising many questions. A letter to the administration makes three key requests: that the administration provides clarity on the initiative; that the effort recognizes voluntary conservation efforts already underway; and that the administration seeks input from farmers and ranchers. “This ‘30X30’ goal has received a great deal of attention in farming and ranching communities across the country,” writes American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall. “America’s agriculturalists are asking whether their good work will be recognized by the administration.” The letter points out that farmers and ranchers have voluntarily enrolled more than 140 million acres of private land into federal and non-federal conservation programs. That’s a landmass larger than the size of New York and California combined. “We ask that you move swiftly to provide clarification about your intentions, and when you do, make sure to invite public comments because farmers and ranchers are leaders in conservation and deserve to get heard,” Duvall adds. ********************************************************************************************** Soy-Based Innovation Clears Air and Helps Respiration A new soy-based dust suppressant is now available for roads, construction sites, farms, and many more uses. It offers a sustainable choice for rural, urban, and business communities to improve air quality for people, pets, livestock, and crops. As part of the marketing effort, a new video shows how this innovation can help reduce dust on rural gravel roads near farms across the nation. BioBlend Renewable Resources EPIC EL dust suppressant is the latest industrial use product to enter the market after getting research funding from the United Soybean Board and the North Dakota Soybean Council. EPIC EL is made from soybean oil as well as glycerin, a coproduct of biodiesel production. “The soybean checkoff is driving demand for U.S. soy through innovative and sustainable industrial use products,” says Dan Farney, USB Chair and a soybean farmer from Illinois. “A long-lasting soy-based dust suppressant is a natural choice for farmers, county engineers, and government agencies, as well as businesses in rural and urban areas, to improve air quality, traffic safety, and sustainability.” Because EPIC EL is an odorless water-soluble product, it offers environmental benefits compared to the salt-based mixtures commonly used to control dust that trigger concerns about soil leaching and equipment corrosion. ********************************************************************************************** Cargill Building New Canola Plant in Canada as Demand Soars Cargill is building a new $350 million canola plant in Saskatchewan, Canada, to take advantage of the booming demand for the oilseed. Canola futures recently hit record highs, and soybeans reached multi-year highs as demand for canola to process into vegetable oil and animal feed is greater than the available supply. Refiners are also planning to produce renewable diesel from canola and soybeans to comply with Canadian government mandates and several U.S. states to manufacture cleaner-burning fuels. “There’s going to continue to be a strong pull in countries like China, from a food perspective,” says Jeff Vassart, president of Cargill’s Canadian unit. “We do see demand increasing for renewable diesel too, and we’re going to make sure we get positioned for it.” The new plant in Regina, Saskatchewan, will have the capacity to crush one million tons of canola every year. Reuters says the plant is expected to start working in early 2024 and will create 50 full-time jobs. Cargill will also be modernizing its two canola crush facilities in Alberta and Saskatchewan to increase volume. Canada’s canola stocks will drop to their lowest point in eight years sometime later this summer, but Cargill still plans to crush at a strong pace. *********************************************************************************************** Corn Export Sales Rise While Beans and Wheat Drop The USDA says export sales of soybeans and wheat dropped week-to-week while corn sales rose. Soybean sales in the seven days ending on April 15 were reported at only 64,300 metric tons, down 29 percent from the previous week but up 25 percent from the prior four-week average. Japan was the big buyer at 58,200 metric tons. China kept the total from going higher by canceling cargoes of 51,200 tons while an unnamed country canceled 37,200 tons. Sales for the 2021-2022 marketing year totaled 315,300 metric tons. Exports for the week dropped to a marketing-year low of 226,400 metric tons, a 45 percent drop week-to-week. Wheat sales also dropped, falling to 240,200 metric tons, still up 55 percent from the prior four-week average. Mexico was the top buyer at 137,500 metric tons. Sales for the 2021-2022 marketing year came in at 373,800 metric tons. Exports in the seven days through April 15 tallied 561,000 metric tons, 20 percent higher than the previous week. Corn sales rose to 387,500 metric tons, 18 percent higher than the previous week. However, that’s down 75 percent from the previous four-week average. Mexico was the top corn buyer at 366,300 metric tons. Weekly exports totaled 1.61 million metric tons, which was 12 percent lower than the prior week. *********************************************************************************************** Farm Progress Returning to Live Events in 2021 Farm Progress will return to hosting live events with the Farm Progress Show in Decatur, Illinois, August 31-September 2, and Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Nebraska, September 14-16. A survey done by Readex Research indicated that 84 percent of past show attendees will go to the show in person or plan to attend if their schedule allows it. The industry hasn’t come together in person since early 2020, so groundbreaking product introductions and technological advances haven’t been seen in over 18 months. Farm Progress says its entire team is working to ensure that the agriculture community can reconnect in meaningful and safe ways when they return to these yearly events. The All-Secure Guidelines, a transparent and vetted industry-wide collection of health and safety policies, will provide direction during the upcoming shows and make sure that all attendees and exhibitors will be safe and healthy. Central Illinois farmer Chase Brown tells Farm Progress that “It’s exciting to get out to see and touch the newest equipment, but also to interact with not only exhibitors but fellow farmers.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fight Over Taxes Increases The Hill is reporting this week that lawmakers are digging in for a "bitter fight over tax increases" that President Joe Biden is expected to propose in the coming days – which he says are necessary to pay for expensive infrastructure and family support bills. The expected proposals, which largely hew to his campaign promises, would raise the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, implement a minimum corporate tax, nearly double taxes on investment gains for the wealthiest and tweak inheritance laws. The announced corporate tax plans would cover a $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan dealing with transport, broadband, water and electricity. Capital gains and other proposals are being finalized ahead of next week's rollout of a so-called family infrastructure plan focusing on early education and home care that could run as high as $1.5 trillion. Republicans, whose signature achievement under the Trump administration was a 2017 tax bill that cut taxes significantly are continuing to excoriate the proposals. "This is another economic blunder by the Biden Administration," said Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, which deals with taxation. This time, President Biden is also confronting blowback from progressives such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who are pushing for the corporate tax rate to return to its 2017 level of 35%. "We need a progressive tax system based on the ability to pay, not a regressive tax system that rewards the wealthy and the well connected," Sanders said in late March. Progressives want Biden to use the extra cash to pay for expanded health coverage. Republicans are also torn between sacrificing their most recent crowning legislative achievement and proving that they are not obstructionists to popular proposals from a popular president. A recent survey conducted by The New York Times and Survey Monkey found that two out of three American voters support Biden's American Jobs Plan, The Hill said. The White House has portrayed itself as open to negotiations on pay-fors, though Republicans remain skeptical after the president dismissed their COVID-19 offers and passed his last $1.9 trillion plan with only Democratic support. "It's the beginning of a discussion," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday, adding that Biden's red line was his campaign promise to not raise taxes for people making under $400,000 a year. Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has said he prefers a negotiated bipartisan solution, but has drawn a line in the sand, arguing that corporate tax increase should not go beyond 25%. Republicans presented their $568 billion infrastructure counter-offer Thursday and ruled out any corporate tax increases arguing that the bill should be funded through user fees and already-appropriated funds from the last COVID-19 relief measure. Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va, who led the effort for the GOP response, said that increasing corporate rates was out of the question. "I think that's a non-negotiable red line," she said. "For me personally, that's a non-starter." But Republicans face an uphill battle with that approach, The Hill says. "It definitely should be raised, because the break that they got from the Republicans was totally untoward and these corporations should be paying their fair share of taxes," Sen. Mazie Hirono D-Hawaii, said. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Democrats couldn't accept Capito's red line. "Their idea is that the biggest of the big corporations should not pay one penny in taxes," he said Thursday. "It's pretty hard to get to a bipartisan approach from that. You know, I always try to find common ground, but that's gonna be a stretch." Republicans backing Capito's counterproposal agreed with Biden on one thing: They don't want to raise the gas tax, despite a push by big business groups hoping to stave off a corporate tax hike. Complicating things further, a group of House Democrats have insisted that they will vote down any proposal that doesn't roll back limits on the state and local tax deduction, known as SALT. The GOP tax law limited the deduction to $10,000, a move that largely affected the wealthy in blue states such as California and New York. But eliminating the deduction would raise the price of legislation by $130 billion, half of which would accrue to millionaires. Progressive Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Kathleen Rice, D-N.Y., were the only New York Democrats not to sign onto the SALT letter. Market watchers believe that ultimately Democrats will moderate their asks in order to secure support for passing their bills, whether that requires simply satisfying moderates such as Manchin for a budget reconciliation bill, or persuading 10 Republican Senators to join them in passing legislation through regular order. A Thursday analysis from Goldman Sachs predicted that Biden's plans to raise capital gains from 20% to 39.6% on high earners would likely end up closer to 28%. "While it is possible that Congress might pass the proposal in its entirety, we think a moderated version is more likely in light of the razor-thin majorities in the House and Senate," analyst Jan Hatzius noted. So, we will see. The tax plan will be a hard ask for both parties, and certainly is one producers should watch closely as they proceed this summer, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


Former USDA Secretary Perdue Being Considered As Leader Of University Of Georgia Atlanta TV station Fox 5 is reporting that the University System of Georgia is considering former USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to become the next chancellor. The station reported that a group of students is planning to protest the consideration of Perdue to lead the university system in the state. "Students Against Sonny" has published a petition on Change.org and plans to hold a protest this week in front of the Board of Regents building in Atlanta.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


USDA's Vilsack: Administration 30x30 Plan Not a 'Land Grab' The Biden administration's 30x30 plan to protect 30% of U.S. lands and ocean territory by 2030 not a "land grab," according to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. The secretary told reporters, "This is not about land grabs, this is really about utilizing public lands and private working lands in a commitment to conservation." He said the department is reaching out to farmers for their suggestions about how to achieve the "30x30" and other goals, but that "there's no intention to take something away from folks," rather the moves are focused on encouraging adoption of climate-smart practices. He also said the action to increase acreage levels enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) will not increase market prices for commodities. But the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) cautioned that "drastically" increasing CRP could result in negative climate impacts. Mike Seyfert, president and CEO of the NGFA, said, "NGFA believes CRP should be targeted at the most environmentally sensitive portions of farms, and avoid enrollment of whole farms or large tracts of productive farmland. Programs that drastically increase acreage idling in the United States send market signals to competitors to plant more acres, resulting in negative climate and environmental impacts. We look forward to hearing additional details from USDA and working with the department to ensure this acreage is targeted for the most substantial environmental benefits while preserving U.S. agricultural productivity and competitiveness."

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will start a new week examining the latest weather forecasts, watching for a report on March durable goods orders at 7:30 a.m. CDT and will pause at 8 a.m. to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. At 10:00 a.m. CDT, USDA will have its weekly report of grain export inspections, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Monday features very warm to hot and dry conditions over much of the central and southern U.S. This combination favors spring planting along with bringing stress to winter wheat. Red Flag wildfire warnings cover much of the Southern Plains. We'll also see widely scattered light showers in the Northern Plains with little to no easing of drought.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


Senate Ag Committee Advances Growing Climate Solutions Act The Senate Agriculture Committee quickly advanced the Growing Climate Solutions Act Thursday morning. Via a voice vote, the committee approved the legislation, sending it on to the full Senate for consideration. Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow states, “On Earth Day, our committee came together in a bipartisan way to pass the Growing Climate Solutions Act.” Ranking member John Boozman says the bill "demonstrates what can be accomplished if we take a bipartisan approach to legislating." The bill creates a structure at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help farmers and foresters scale-up climate-oriented practices and benefit from emerging new sources of farm revenue. The bill was reintroduced on Tuesday with the support of 42 Senators and over 70 agricultural and environmental organizations. Agriculture groups are supportive of the legislation. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, "The Growing Climate Solutions Act rightly rewards farmers for climate-smart practices and provides important guidelines for success.” ************************************************************************************ NACD Announces Climate Action Task Force The National Association of Conservation Districts Thursday announced the formation of a Climate Action Task Force. The Task Force will assess current and emerging climate policy opportunities and make recommendations to NACD’s leadership. The goal is to utilize the technical knowledge and expertise of conservation districts as part of the U.S. solution to climate change. NACD President Michael Crowder says, “It’s important to keep locally-led conservation at the forefront of U.S. climate mitigation efforts to set strong direction that also serves the needs of local communities.” President Crowder selected NACD Immediate Past President Tim Palmer to lead the task force. Palmer says, “The task force members have a keen knowledge – from different perspectives – of how utilizing continuously refined and emerging practices can help our soils and ecosystems produce climate benefits.” NACD says conservation practices that are trusted and familiar to landowners can play a critical role in climate change mitigation and healthy farm, ranch, tribal and forestry economies. ************************************************************************************ NMPF Supports Labeling Integrity Through DAIRY PRIDE Act The National Milk Producers Federation commended lawmakers for reintroducing the DAIRY PRIDE Act. The legislation, NMPF says, would bring clear, accurate labeling information for consumers and end harmful mislabeling of dairy foods for plant-based products. The legislation requires the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to enforce its own existing standards of identity on imitation dairy products after decades of inaction. Senators Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, and James Risch, an Idaho Republican, introduced a Senate version of the bill, and a companion bill was introduced in the House. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern states, “FDA is responsible for the integrity and safety of our nation’s food, medicine, and medical devices, and it’s crucial that it enforce its own standards and requirements.” Standards of identity legally define what constitutes a specific food or food product, requiring the food product to carry certain qualities. When enforced, these legal standards protect consumers by helping to ensure the integrity of their food. ************************************************************************************ White House Launches Drought Relief Working Group The White House this week announced the formation of an Interagency Working Group to address worsening drought conditions in the West and ongoing water shortages. The Working Group will be co-chaired by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states, "With our interagency Working Group, we will collaborate with Tribes, agricultural producers, landowners, and rural communities to build regional resilience to drought." Interior Secretary Deb Haaland says, “We are committed to using every resource available” to accomplish their goal. The Working Group will work to identify immediate financial and technical assistance for impacted irrigators and Tribes. Development of longer-term measures to respond to climate change and build more resilient communities and protect the natural environment will also be a priority, including through President Biden’s proposed American Jobs Plan and through a recommitment to strengthening the National Drought Resilience Partnership. Formed in 2013, the NDRP brings together federal agencies to build long-term drought resilience. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $487 Million in Rural Water, Energy, and Biofuel Infrastructure The Department of Agriculture celebrated Earth Day Thursday by announcing a $487 million infrastructure investment to help communities in 45 states. USDA says the funding will help communities build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship. USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The investments include $374 million through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 31 states. The funding also includes $78 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 30 states through the Rural Energy for America Program, and $17.4 million in loans in New Mexico and South Dakota through the Electric Loan Program. Finally, USDA is using $18.4 million in 20 states through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program to build infrastructure to help expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by approximately 218 million gallons per year. ************************************************************************************ Electric Car Sales Up 81 Percent Sales growth of both electric and hybrid vehicles outpaced overall market performance in the first quarter of 2021. Electrified vehicles - automobiles featuring large battery packs and electric motors in the propulsion system - accounted for 7.8 percent of the total U.S. market, up from 4.8 percent in the first quarter of 2021. Cox Automotive and Kelley Blue Book released the data that finds electrified vehicle sales growth of 81 percent far outpaced industry growth. Sales of electric vehicles - battery only - grew by 44.8 percent year over year, reaching nearly 100,000 sales in the quarter, which is a record. Sales of hybrid vehicles outpaced both the market and electric vehicles, doubling to more than 200,000 in the quarter. Hybrid sales are increasing more quickly as sales of hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles jumped by 106 percent in the first quarter of the year. The overall automobile market increased by 11.4 percent in the quarter.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Investment Fights and How to Pay Bloomberg is reporting this week that key Senate Republicans are already planning to participate in a revived system of earmarking congressional funds for local projects although their conference left in place a non-enforceable ban on the practice. The conference kept its non-binding ban on earmarks in its Wednesday meeting on caucus rules, members said. Democrats have said they plan to bring back a limited version of earmarks, which hadn't been used in a decade. Now, it appears that at least some Senate Republicans are planning to join in the process, as well. Senate Appropriations Vice Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., said it'll be up to individual members to decide if they want to participate. He said he was confident that "the new system of earmarks won't get the bad reputation it had before it was banned in 2011." "If you don't want an earmark don't ask for one," Shelby said of this week's decision. "Even if you ask for one, you might not get one, because the old earmark days, they're gone. They're going to have to be meritorious, they're going to have to be substantive in nature, and meaningful for us to really even consider it." Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and of the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee said she'll consider possible earmarks. "I'm going to look seriously at earmarking," she told reporters. "If I can make my voice heard and be specific on it, and mindful of the transparency, I don't have a problem with it." Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Transportation-HUD Subcommittee, also told reporters she plans to submit earmark requests. Members expected to vote on a proposal to remove the conference's ban on earmarks but didn't complete that vote on Wednesday, instead opting to leave the "symbolic ban" in place and let members decide for themselves how to legislate. "I certainly hope that every member of the Republican conference complies with what the conference rules say," Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, an earmark critic, told reporters. "Can a member choose to act differently? Sure." In the meantime, Senate Republicans say they are working on an infrastructure counteroffer in an effort by conservatives to push the Biden administration to narrow the scope of its package and pay for it with user fees rather than a corporate tax hike. Republicans have discussed a ballpark figure of $600 billion to $800 billion, rather than the $2.25 trillion proposal by Biden. They've also pushed back on Biden's call for an increase in the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28% as they push to have their bill paid for with user fees. The anticipated announcement is closer to the beginning of negotiations than the end, Bloomberg opines. Capito, who has led the effort to assemble a Republican counteroffer, said it's "an opening bid" in discussions with the White House. "This is an honest bid and a negotiation," she told reporters on Wednesday. "And I just want them to know that we want to be at the table." Capito will join Commerce, Science, and Transportation ranking member Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Energy and Natural Resources ranking member John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs ranking member Pat Toomey, R-Pa., to announce the plan at a coming press conference, likely before the end of this week. Wicker called the new proposal "a very viable plan," in his remarks to reporters. Plans to pay for the spending are continuing to be a major divide between Republicans and Democrats. President Biden has said the bill's costs must be offset and proposed a corporate tax hike for upper bracket taxpayers to achieve that. Republicans argue that is a nonstarter. "We're not interested in raising taxes," Capito told reporters. "We think that people that use our infrastructure are a lot of the solution. There's a lot of private money out there." Bloomberg also noted that advocacy groups from states across the U.S. are urging Congress to "evenly" fund transit and highways in the next surface transportation reauthorization bill. The effort, convened by the National Campaign for Transit Justice, is expected to kick off today with letters sent to federal lawmakers from at least 13 states. In additional budget discussions, the White House told lawmakers the administration's goal is to send a full budget proposal for fiscal 2022 by Memorial Day, May 31, House Budget Chair John Yarmuth, D-Ky., told reporters Wednesday. That will help kick off a late start to the congressional budget process, he said. Yarmuth noted that lawmakers are doing preliminary work on a budget resolution, but thinks it will be June by the time the budget portion of the process is finished "because of delays on the White House's end." Members have discussed simply deeming a budget outline to allow appropriators to start their work, Yarmuth said. "Deeming" a resolution sets the top-line spending figures without going through the full process of adopting a budget resolution. So, we will see. It is clear that solutions to the question of how to pay for new federal investments will continue to be a hard, nearly impossible sticking point. Whether or not the administration can rely sufficiently on targeted, high bracket taxpayers and avoid new taxes for the middle class will be increasingly important; an issue producers should watch closely as these investment debates intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


Senators Again Push EPA To Restore The 'Integrity' Of The RFS EPA is being called on to set the 2021 and 2022 Renewable Volume Obligations (RVOs) under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to require "conventional renewable fuel volumes of at least 15 billion gallons per year, as required by statute, along with the court-ordered 500 million gallons illegally waived from 2016 standards and increase biodiesel, advanced, and cellulosic volumes." The lawmakers told EPA Administrator Michael Regan that "restoring the integrity of the RFS and expanding market opportunities for renewable fuels should remain a core part of our plans to assist in the economic recovery of rural America and further reduce emissions from the transportation sector." The lawmakers also called on EPA to update their modeling on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions. The lawmakers also took issue with those refiners indicating they cannot comply with the RFS for 2021, noting the extension of the compliance deadlines for 2019 and 2020 and pointing out that action is in addition to the prior administration granting small refinery exemptions (SREs) that "undercut renewable fuels." They also sought to counter arguments that high prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) are threatening the viability of refiners, pointing out that there are many ways refiners can show compliance with the RFS. They called on EPA to "reject requests" to waive or reduce RVOs and continue the commitment to "support farmers and rural communities by upholding and restoring confidence in the RFS." The letter was signed by 12 bipartisan Midwest Senators, including Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and others.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


EPA's Regan Commits He Will Not Go Back To Obama-Era WOTUS Rule The Biden administration is seeking to tackle the issue of Clean Water Act regulations by "learning from the lessons of the past," EPA administrator Michael Regan told members of the House Appropriations Interior-Environment Subcommittee. Specifically on the issue of the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule from the Obama administration and the Trump administration rule, Regan said, "We don't have any intention of going back to the original Obama Waters of the U.S. verbatim, and we don't necessarily agree with everything that was in the Trump administration's version as well. We've learned lessons from both. We've seen complexities in both, and we've determined that both rules did not necessarily listen to the will of the people." He said that he and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack are "attached at the hip" on the issue and Regan said he has had discussions with agriculture company officials about WOTUS since he has been at EPA. "I'm interested in moving forward, not in a ping-pong way, but a way that we can provide some certainty to the ag industry, where we don't overburden the small farmer but we also balance the protection of our wetlands and our sounds and estuaries," Regan said.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. new home sales for March is set for 9 a.m. CDT Friday. Traders will check the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales at 8 a.m. At 2 p.m. CDT, USDA will release its cattle on-feed estimate for April 1, comparing to 12.0 million head reported for March 1. Weather Light rain showers are in store for the central and southeastern Plains and western Midwest Friday. We'll also see late-season snow in the northwestern Plains. Other crop areas will be dry. Freeze threats are focused on the Ohio Valley through the Mid-Atlantic coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


USDA Expands and Renews Conservation Reserve Program Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack just announced that USDA will open enrollment in the Conservation Reserve Program with higher payment rates, new incentives, and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation. Additionally, USDA is announcing investments in partnerships to increase climate-smart agriculture, including $330 million in 85 Regional Conservation Partnership Program projects and $25 million for On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials. Secretary Vilsack made the announcement at Wednesday’s White House National Climate Task Force meeting. Vilsack says, “We need to invest in CRP and let it do what it does best—preserve topsoil, sequester carbon, and reduce the impacts of climate change.” USDA’s goal is to enroll up to four million new acres in CRP by raising rental payment rates and expanding the number of incentivized environmental practices allowed under the program. USDA says CRP is one of the world’s largest voluntary conservation programs with a long track record of success. ************************************************************************************ Regan: EPA Won’t Return to Obama-era WOTUS Definitions Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan told lawmakers Wednesday the agency would not go back to the Obama-era definitions of Waters of the U.S. Regan made the comments as part of the 2022 Budget Request for EPA during a House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. Regan told lawmakers, “We don’t have any intention of going back to the original Obama Waters of the U.S. verbatim.” The statement was in response to questions from two Republican members of the subcommittee. Regan, who noted his meetings with top agriculture industry leaders, says, "We all believe that the courts weighed in on the Obama rule, and that the courts weighed in on Trump's Navigable Water Rule." Regan pledged to begin a stakeholder engagement process, including agriculture and environmental groups, to find a way to move forward. Specifically, in a way, Regan says, "where we don't overburden the small farmer, but we also balance the protection of our wetlands," adding, "I think we can do it." ************************************************************************************ Agriculture Welcomes Growing Climate Solutions Act Agriculture groups responded mostly positively to the Growing Climate Solutions Act, sponsored by Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow and Indiana Republican Senator Mike Braun. The committee will hold a markup session for the legislation Thursday(today). The act establishes a Department of Agriculture technical assistance and certification program to assist producers and forest owners seeking to participate in voluntary carbon markets. Additionally, the bill would establish an advisory committee to make recommendations to Congress and the Department of Agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance applauded the bill’s introduction. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “This bill is evidence lawmakers can come together in a bipartisan manner to find solutions to environmental challenges while respecting the role of farmers and ranchers.” And National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “By creating a certification program, the Growing Climate Solutions Act would bring much-needed clarity and certainty” to carbon markets. ************************************************************************************ Baldwin Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Retroactively Extend PPP Benefits Senator Tammy Baldwin, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, this week introduced bipartisan legislation to extend more relief to farmers and small businesses. The PPP Flexibility for Farmers, Ranchers, and the Self-Employed Act offers changes to the Paycheck Protection Program. The bill includes a legislative fix authored by Senator Baldwin that would make critical changes to PPP loan calculations to allow self-employed farmers and ranchers to apply for more generous PPP loans based on their gross income, retroactively. Under Baldwin's legislation, any self-employed farmer, even those who already received a PPP loan based on their net income and got it forgiven, could now get a loan for the difference between the gross and the net income loan amounts. Baldwin says of the legislation, "farmers will now have an opportunity to receive an increased benefit with more generous loans." Two other Democrats and four Republicans joined Baldwin in introducing the bill. ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks Comments on Food System Supply Chains The Department of Agriculture seeks comments on a Department-wide effort to improve and reimagine food supply chains. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announced the comment period Wednesday as part of a response to an executive order signed by President Joe Biden in February. The comments received will help USDA assess the critical factors, risks, and strategies needed to support resilient, diverse, and secure supply chains and. USDA says such supply chains are needed to address conditions that can reduce critical processing and infrastructure capacity and the availability and integrity of critical goods, products, and services. Identifying food system supply chain bottlenecks and vulnerabilities also may provide valuable insights into the competitive and fair markets landscape, effects on local and regional producers and processors, and equitable access to food and economic opportunity across diverse communities. Secretary Vilsack says, "USDA plans to tackle this supply chain assessment holistically – looking across a full range of risks and opportunities.” ************************************************************************************ USDA’s National Agricultural Classification Survey is Underway The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Classification Survey is arriving in mailboxes around the nation. The survey, one of the most important steps in determining who should receive a 2022 Census of Agriculture questionnaire, asks recipients if they are involved in agricultural activity. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service recently mailed the NACS to 633,000 potential agricultural producers. NASS requests that each person who receives the survey respond by May 3. NASS Census and Survey Division Director Barbara Rater says the survey “shows the breadth of American agriculture and helps to ensure we get a complete count of farms and ranches in the upcoming agriculture census.” NASS encourages recipients to respond online at www.agcounts.usda.gov, using the 12-digit survey code mailed with the survey. Completed questionnaires may also be mailed back in the prepaid envelope provided. Referenced by countless national and local decision-makers, researchers, farm organizations, and more, the once-every-five-year Census of Agriculture is the leading source of facts about American agriculture.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New Digital Weapon for China Bloomberg is reporting this week that in spite of China's economic and military power "perhaps nothing reveals Beijing's weaknesses more than the U.S. control of the global financial system." Recently, China has sought ways to counteract U.S. sanctions after President Trump targeted Chinese officials and companies over policies from the South China Sea to Xinjiang. Hong Kong's leader can't access a bank account and a top executive at Huawei Technologies Co. is detained in Canada. Even China's state-run banks are complying with U.S. sanctions. That's one reason the Biden administration is starting to study whether China's development of a digital currency will make it harder for the U.S. to enforce sanctions, Bloomberg said. The digital yuan, which could see a wider roll out at the 2022 Winter Olympics is also spurring the U.S. to consider creating a digital dollar. But instead of challenging U.S. dollar dominance and neutralizing sanctions, the digital yuan appears potentially more geopolitically significant as leverage over multinational companies and governments that want access to China's 1.4 billion consumers. Clearly the United States has a lot of power through our Treasury sanctions," Matt Pottinger, former U.S. deputy national security adviser in the Trump administration said. "That currency can be turned off like a light switch." So far China has mostly resisted hitting foreign firms in response to U.S. actions on companies like Huawei. But Beijing has gone after companies like Hennes & Mauritz AB for statements on human-rights issues, even while government officials have been careful to avoid directly endorsing a boycott. Controlling access to China's massive market remains the best way for Beijing to hit back at the U.S. As long as Chinese companies still want access to the broader financial world dominated by the U.S. and its allies, Washington can effectively wield sanctions against nearly anyone who doesn't operate exclusively in China's orbit. While President Xi Jinping has called for greater self-sufficiency in key technologies like advanced computer chips, a financial decoupling from the U.S. would only hurt China's economy and potentially leave the Communist Party more exposed to destabilizing attacks. After Xi effectively ended Hong Kong's autonomy last year with a sweeping national security law, the U.S. refrained from cutting off the territory's ability to access U.S. dollars due to the potential devastation to the global financial system. Widespread use of the digital yuan -- also known as the e-CNY -- could potentially give China's central bank more data on financial transactions than the big tech giants, allowing the Communist Party to both strengthen its grip on power and fine-tune policies to bolster the economy. However, while that level of control may boost growth in the world's second-biggest economy, it also risks spooking companies and governments already wary of China's track record on intellectual property rights, economic coercion and rule of law. China's ability to see every transaction may make it difficult for foreign banks to use the digital yuan and still comply with confidentiality rules in their home countries, according to Emily Jin, a research assistant at the Center for a New American Security. But, she added, the currency might appeal to some regimes that prioritize control over privacy protection. The digital yuan would serve as a back-up to Ant Group Co.'s Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s WeChat Pay, which together make up 98% of the mobile-payments market, according to Mu Changchun, director of the central bank's Digital Currency Research Institute. Last month he said the electronic yuan has the "highest level of privacy protection" and the central bank wouldn't directly know the identity of users, but the government could get that information from financial institutions in cases of suspected illegal activity. Chinese policy makers have also repeatedly emphasized that the digital yuan isn't meant to challenge the dollar. People's Bank of China Deputy Governor Li Bo said last weekend the motivation for the e-CNY is primarily for domestic use. The Chinese currency now makes up about 2% of global foreign exchange reserves compared with nearly 60% for the U.S. dollar and most of Beijing's trade and loans in Xi's Belt-and-Road Initiative are disbursed in dollars. "The dollar is not the dominant reserve currency because the Americans say it must be," said Michael Pettis, finance professor at Peking University and senior fellow at the Carnegie-Tsinghua Center in Beijing. "The dollar is the dominant reserve currency because the Chinese, the Europeans, the Japanese, the South Koreans etc. say it must be. It's the rest of the world that imposes that because they think its the safest place to park money." China began research on the digital yuan back in 2014. It has begun technical testing with Hong Kong for cross-border payments and is working with Thailand and the United Arab Emirates on real-time foreign exchange settlements. Authorities are also studying how the digital yuan can be combined with 5G networks and the internet of things. Josh Lipsky, director of the Atlantic Council's GeoEconomics Center, said. "China is really leading in this area and it should be a wake-up call to the U.S. and to Europe," he said. "There is a serious first mover advantage not because of what China will do, but what other countries are doing. So, we will see. There is a strong hope across agriculture that the massive financial control systems can be made to accommodate trading needs -- and that new deals to help supply China's growing food needs can be made, as well. These are among the world's most promising markets and should be redeveloped and expanded to the extent that is possible, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


Revised Climate Solutions Measure Reintroduced A bipartisan group of senators reintroduced the Growing Climate Solutions Act Tuesday, a bill that would establish a federal program to help agriculture producers access carbon credit markets. Senate Ag Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., joined Sens. Mike Braun, R-Ind., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., spearheading the legislation. The American Farm Bureau Federation is one of more than 60 agricultural and environment organizations to back the measure. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall called the bill an "improved" version of the one introduced in the last Congress.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


USDA Seeking Public Input to Compile Report On Supply Chain Issues USDA is calling for public comments through May 21 on actions to "secure and strengthen" U.S. supply chains as it seeks to prepare a report on supply chain issues for agriculture commodities and food products. The request for comments, published in the Federal Register April 21, covers a host of topics and USDA said they will also use feedback provided to shape their thinking on "how stimulus relief programs and spending related to food supply chain resilience as authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA), and the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) can help to increase durability and resilience within the U.S. food supply." The request covers a broad range of issues for the supply chain in food and agriculture, including on issues such as "market concentration and consolidation," on crops or products not produced here that could be, transportation systems, digital products, risks posed by climate change, and "how to best target support for socially disadvantaged producers and processors, tribal communities, small businesses, beginning farmers and ranchers, and other key stakeholder groups." USDA also wants commenters to offer any "specific policy recommendations important to transforming the food system and increasing reliance in the supply chain for the sector." USDA is to provide a report within one year of the executive order signed February 24 by President Joe Biden on "America's Supply Chain," and the comments it is seeking are aimed at providing information to compile that report. The broad nature of the request also outlines the administration's policy thinking moving forward which appears to be less focused on mainstream production agriculture.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's export sales report, U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. A report on March U.S. existing home sales and an index of leading indicators is set for 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. CDT. USDA's monthly cold storage report will be released at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Thursday will be mainly dry and cool to cold across the Midwest, with morning freeze threat and disruption to fieldwork and planting. Scattered light rain will move across portions of the Plains during the day; however, northern and far southwestern sectors face extreme fire threats due to dry conditions and strong winds.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


USDA Reports Early Planting The amount of corn planted doubled in the last week, but don’t expect the same progress this week, with cold weather and snowfall moving across the Midwest. The National Weather Service issued freeze warnings across the central and eastern Corn Belt as a late winter storm tracks through the region, along with winter weather advisories. The Department of Agriculture’s latest Crop Progress Report showed corn plantings over the last week increased to eight percent, from four percent last week of the crop planted. Just two percent of the crop has emerged. Last year, during the same time, six percent of the crop was in the ground. USDA also reports three percent of the nation’s soybean crop is planted, compared to two percent last year. Meanwhile, 11 percent of the nation’s cotton crop is in the ground, along with 15 percent of the sorghum crop, 33 percent of the rice crop and 25 percent of sugar beets. ************************************************************************************ Senators Offer Legislation to Help States Rebuild Infrastructure Following Extreme Weather U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Mike Braun Tuesday introduced bipartisan legislation to help states rebuild stronger and more resilient roads, highways and bridges. The Wisconsin Democrat and Indiana Republican say the legislation will help states as they recover from extreme weather and natural disaster damage brought by severe storms, floods or hurricanes. The Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief Program provides federal funding to states to rebuild roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters. Incorporating resiliency improvements into emergency relief projects has become increasingly important, the Senators say. Yet too often, highway infrastructure is rebuilt to pre-disaster specifications, leaving roads and bridges vulnerable to another disaster and costly damage repairs. The bipartisan Rebuilding Stronger Infrastructure Act ensures that resilience improvements are eligible for federal funding and requires the Federal Highway Administration to provide states with the guidance and tools needed to rebuild infrastructure that is more resilient to the next severe weather event. ************************************************************************************ Canadian National Launches Rival Bid for Kanas City Southern Railroad Canadian National Railway Tuesday made a rival bid for Kansas City Southern. The proposed cash-and-stock transaction is valued at $33.7 billion. The proposal represents a 21 percent premium over the implied value of the Canadian Pacific transaction. Dow Jones reports the new bid from Canadian National is $200 in cash and 1.059 Canadian National shares for each Kansas City share. That works out to roughly $325 a share. The prior bid is $90 a share and 0.489 Canadian Pacific shares for each Kansas City share, worth roughly $270 a share. Regardless of who wins the bidding war, the winners of the looming battle look to be KCS shareholders, as shares are up 25 percent for the year. In a news release, Canadian National states, “CN is ideally positioned to combine with KCS to create a company with broader reach and greater scale, and to seamlessly connect more customers to rail hubs and ports in the U.S., Mexico and Canada.” ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Calls on EPA to Fix E15 Labeling Growth Energy and the National Corn Growers Association submitted comments to the Environmental Protection Agency this week regarding E15 labeling and infrastructure. Growth Energy supports modification of the E15 label requirement to "increase clarity and ensure it adequately advises consumers of appropriate uses of the fuel." In addition, Growth Energy and NCGA support EPA's proposal to modify the underground storage tank compatibility requirements for E15 and other fuel blends. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor states, "As our nation faces the challenges of climate change, it's imperative that EPA act immediately to support greater access to cleaner renewable fuel blends." NCGA President John Linder wrote in the organization's comments, "Finalizing this proposal will remove additional barriers to retailers offering E15 and provide an immediate fuel decarbonization opportunity." NCGA’s comments urged EPA to adopt proposed updates to the E15 label and make further revisions to the label statement to keep it fact-based and avoid speculation and confusion. ************************************************************************************ USDA Releases Vegetable and Pulses Outlook The Department of Agriculture recently released its April 2021 Vegetable and Pulses Outlook. Despite a continuing pandemic and weather-related events, USDA says the U.S. vegetable industry was able to overcome a myriad of obstacles and continue to supply consumers with an almost uninterrupted flow of vegetables and pulse crops. Assuming the impact of the pandemic begins to wane in the second half of 2021, potatoes and potato products may see a burst of demand as consumers resume some activities such as travel and away-from-home dining. Meanwhile, the Producer Price Index for all fresh vegetables, excluding potatoes, reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics through the first quarter of 2021, reveals fresh vegetable producer prices decreased by eight percent. And as global economic activity continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and energy prices return to and exceed pre-pandemic levels, growers can expect to pay more for most of the inputs required to produce, pack, and ship vegetables in 2021. ************************************************************************************ USDA Issues Pandemic Flexibilities for Schools and Day Care Facilities through June 2022 The Department of Agriculture Tuesday issued flexibilities to allow school meal programs and childcare services return to serving healthy meals in fall 2021. Several meal service flexibilities that enable social distancing are now extended through June 30, 2022. A recent study from Tufts University found that in 2018, schools were the single healthiest source of food consumed across a sample of children and adults. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “USDA will remain relentless in ensuring our nation’s children get the critical nutrition they need.” Vilsack says states and districts wanted waivers extended to plan for a safe reopening in the fall. Schools nationwide are allowed to serve meals through USDA’s National School Lunch Program Seamless Summer Option, which is typically only available during the summer. This option maintains the nutrition standards of the standard school meal while allowing schools to serve free meals to all children. In addition, schools that choose this option will receive higher-than-normal meal reimbursements.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Green Plan Fuels Farm Rush to Profit From Carbon Market Bloomberg is reporting this week that President Joe Biden's “green push” in the discussions of Earth Day this week is fueling something of a gold rush across America's farm country as companies seek to profit from a nascent market for pollution offsets. Examples include butter maker Land O'Lakes and agri-tech firms Indigo Ag and Nori LLC who all have set out to sell carbon credits, produced when farmers adopt practices that reduce emissions. And more firms are moving in, Bloomberg says, with non-profit group Ecosystem Services Market Consortium -- supported by Cargill Inc., General Mills Inc. and McDonald's Corp. -- planning to launch a national carbon market by 2022. With livestock emitting methane as fertilizers emit gases and tractors burning diesel, agriculture is seen as part of the climate problem with the sector accounting for about 10% of U.S. greenhouse emissions total. Still, the world's soil may be able to sequester as much as the fossil-fuel emissions from the transport sector globally -- or nearly as much as the carbon dioxide released by the electricity industry worldwide. It's that potential that agriculture firms, big and small, are keen to tap. Buyers so far include Microsoft, North Face and others eager to offset their emissions. “It's a little bit of a gold rush out there, with a lot of new entrants coming in with a lot of great claims,” said Chris Harbourt, global head of carbon at Indigo, which will be one of the few companies to have credits verified by formal carbon registries. “But do they have the buyers to really back it up?” The Biden administration has promised to make climate change a top priority and bring down emissions to net-zero by 2050. And the president also has ordered all agencies to come up with a whole-of-government approach to achieving the goal. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack touts potential “early wins” from a sector he argues can pivot more rapidly than other major polluters such as power plants, transportation and construction. U.S. agriculture in 2019 was responsible for 629 million metric tons of carbon dioxide-equivalent emissions, up 8 million tons from the prior year, according to EPA. A carbon credit represents a 1 metric ton reduction in carbon dioxide or the equivalent amount in a different greenhouse gas. Farming is in constant exchange with the atmosphere, Bloomberg notes. Methane emissions from livestock are 21 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Fertilizers emit nitrous oxide, more potent yet with 300 times the warming impact of carbon dioxide. But crops, pasture grasses and trees take in carbon from the atmosphere and deposit it in roots and soil. The idea is to re-balance that exchange. Special feeds can reduce livestock emissions and digesters can turn methane from manure into biofuel. Cutting down on fertilizer reduces nitrous oxide. “No till” and reduced-till farming avoids disturbing soil and reduces the emissions from that source. Cover crops planted between growing seasons draw more carbon from the air into the soil and over time may reduce the need for fertilizer. “For the first time, many different sectors are realizing that you need brown and green to actually do green,” said Erin Fitzgerald, chief executive officer of U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action. “We need to lean into the next decade. This is no longer business as usual. We're faced with extreme episodic weather events.” But it's also far from simple. Startup costs can swamp financial gains so large operators may squeeze out smaller ones and increase farm consolidation. Adding a cover crop costs at least $20 an acre for the seeds and up to $15 an acre to get it planted, according to Indigo's Harbourt. And there's the question of how to reward farmers like organic growers who are already using these methods. Mark Isbell, an Arkansas rice farmer who has reduced emissions, says he is worried about creating “perverse incentives.” A coalition of farm groups has suggested one-time payments for early adopters. Environmental groups are split, worrying about paying farmers for steps they might take anyway. Activists are pushing the administration to lay out ambitious goals and detailed plans when it holds its virtual summit with world leaders this week on Earth Day. However, there are also questions over how to measure carbon sequestration since soil types and climate vary greatly from farm to farm and even within the same plot of land. Verification is an issue, with Indigo so far being one of the few working with the so-called carbon registries that are recognized in voluntary markets. Registries haven't escaped scrutiny. Nature Conservancy, the top U.S. seller of carbon offsets, said it's conducting an internal review of its portfolio following concerns that it's facilitating the sale of meaningless carbon credits to corporate clients. Pricing is another issue, with wild variations between what companies charge. CME Group Inc., one of the world's largest derivative exchanges, recently started a carbon offset futures contract, accepting credits issued by certain registries. “It's a voluntary market, it's a developing market, it's a nascent market,” said Ben Fargher, a managing director of sustainability at Cargill, which for now is only using carbon programs to offset its own emissions. “That price discovery is still being discerned.” Biden officials say they want to move quickly and their climate policy for farmers will be based on voluntary incentives. Robert Bonnie, Vilsack's main climate adviser, posed a scenario in a transition memo in which a USDA carbon bank might spend $1 billion a year to buy farm-related credits. So, we will see. Secretary Vilsack has experience with these issues, gained in his previous tour as Secretary, so he can be expected to play a strong role in the newly emerging policies -- efforts that likely will be both important and controversial and should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


CFAP Payment Update Payments under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) have reached $13.45 billion as of April 18, up from $13.33 billion the prior week. Payments break down to $6.22 billion for acreage-based crops, $3.42 billion for livestock, $2.55 billion for sales commodities, $1.21 billion for dairy, and $57.1 million for eggs/broilers. There is a slight increase for CFAP 1 payments as the total still rounds to $10.55 billion. But payments for livestock are now at $5.04 billion ($5.03 billion prior), $2.66 billion for non-specialty crops ($2.66 billion prior), $1.80 billion for dairy ($1.80 billion prior), $930.7 million for specialty crops ($929.7 million prior), $120.7 million for aqua/nursery/flora ($120.6 million prior) as of April 18.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


Brazil Suspends Import Duties On Soybeans/Products, Corn Brazil's Ag Ministry announced Monday that the country has suspended import duties on corn, soybeans, soymeal and soyoil through the end of the year as it seeks to rein in commodity price inflation. The Chamber of Foreign Commerce (Camex) had previously authorized suspension of corn import duties until March 31 and soybean import duties until January 15. The ministry said the expectation when the original action was announced was that external prices would stabilize. "However, international prices had an upward trend, putting even more pressure on domestic prices," the ministry said. "Domestic prices continued to rise due to the strong external demand and the continued devaluation of the real against the dollar." Some are expecting that the U.S. could benefit from the action.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


Farm Groups Support Bonnie Nomination for FPAC Farm groups welcome President Joe Biden’s nomination of Robert Bonnie to oversee The Department of Agriculture’s Farm Production and Conservation mission area as undersecretary. FPAC is significant to agriculture and includes the Farm Service Agency, which manages commodity programs and the Conservation Reserve Program, the Risk Management Agency, which administers crop insurance, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which manages conservation programs other than CRP. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, "We appreciate his outreach and engagement with Farm Bureau during his tenure with the Biden administration, and we are hopeful he will remain fully engaged with farmers and ranchers in his new role." American Soybean Association President Kevin Scott says, "We have appreciated his public service in support of agriculture, and we respect Bonnie's accessibility and responsiveness to us as farmers." Finally, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Bonnie is "one of the nation’s foremost authorities and leaders on working lands approaches to conservation and incentive-based climate and conservation practices.” ************************************************************************************ DMI Announces Earth Day Strategy Dairy farmers’ longstanding commitment to the environment and their stories of stewardship are taking center stage for Earth Day communications strategies. Following Earth Day on April 22 and continuing into May, Dairy Management Inc. will showcase tangible examples of real environmental progress being made on farms and throughout the dairy supply chain. DMI will use its channels, including USDairy.com and its social media properties, to publish sustainability-related content, such as videos, articles and infographics highlighting farmer stories. Other strategies include cultural influencers publishing dairy sustainability content via their social channels and the recent release of a video from media partner Vox examining what happens to nutrition and the environment if the U.S. dairy cow herd was removed. Finally, the checkoff has led efforts to build awareness with audiences about dairy's vital role in sustainable, equitable and secure food systems over the past six months, sparked by the announcement of the 2050 Environmental Stewardship Goals and Net Zero Initiative. ************************************************************************************ Sysco, Cargill, NFWF Announce Sustainable Cattle Grazing Program Sysco and Cargill, two of the world's largest food companies, just announced a major partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The partnership will help ranchers in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado tackle climate change and improve grasslands and wildlife habitat. Through a public-private partnership, $5 million in funding from Sysco and Cargill will accelerate the implementation of sustainable grazing practices over the next five years across one million acres of an area responsible for approximately 30 percent of the beef produced in the United States. The Southern Plains Grassland Program has the potential to sequester up to 360,000 metric tons of carbon per year, or the equivalent of removing 78,000 passenger vehicles from the road in one year. Through NFWF, and in coordination with USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service "Working Lands for Wildlife" framework, conservation experts will work with interested ranchers to plan and implement voluntary grassland management practices with consideration to the unique needs of their land. ************************************************************************************ Bayer Announces Carbon Credits Program Enhancements Bayer recently announced enhancements to the Bayer Carbon Program, providing new opportunities for U.S. growers to participate for the 2021-22 program season. Launched last summer, Bayer says the program takes a farmer-centric approach by offering growers simplicity, certainty and flexibility. By paying U.S. farmers for implementing climate-smart farming methods such as strip- or no-till and cover crops, which help sequester carbon in the soil, farmers receive guaranteed payments and are rewarded for how they produce, not just what they produce. Changes include a significant geographic expansion, nearly doubling the number of states where growers are eligible to participate. For the first time, growers who have previously adopted some climate-smart farming practices also may be able to enroll those acres in the program. Enhancements for the 2021-2022 program season include eligibility for growers who have adopted strip- or no-till or cover crops on fields on or after January 1, 2012. For a complete list of eligible geographies, to learn more or enroll in the program, visit bayercarbon.com. ************************************************************************************ JBS to Purchase Plant-based Food Company The world’s largest protein company and second-largest food producer has entered into an agreement to purchase Vivera, Europe’s third-largest plant-based food company. JBS SA announced the agreement Monday, worth $410 million. Vivera develops and produces a broad range of plant-based meat replacement products for major retailers in over 25 countries across Europe, with market share in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Germany. The deal includes three manufacturing facilities and a research and development center located in the Netherlands. The acquisition of Vivera strengthens and boosts JBS’ global plant-based food platform, according to the company. Strong growth is expected in the plant-based protein category throughout global markets. The deal will add a brand to JBS' portfolio that is well- established in consumer preference, strengthening the company's focus on value-added products. To nurture its entrepreneurial spirit, JBS plans to manage Vivera as a standalone business unit with its current leadership team to remain in place. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Remain Unusually Stable In an unusual feat for spring, the national average price of gasoline and diesel is unchanged from a week ago. The national average price of gas stands at $2.85 per gallon, 2.2 cents lower than a month ago, and $1.07 higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel is also unchanged from a week ago and stands at $3.07 per gallon. Meanwhile, nationally, gasoline demand fell 0.57 percent. Gas Buddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “Gasoline demand has given up ground for the second straight week, likely due to some areas seeing a rise in coronavirus cases, and as spring break plans conclude.” De Haan notes that the next trend in gas prices isn’t evident just yet, and we may see additional slight sideways moves in the weeks ahead, until either demand starts to increase notably again, or we see the opposite. Crude oil prices perked up last week on solid improvements in jobless claims, retail sales and consumer sentiment.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Politics and the Fed's Focus on Climate The Washington Post is reporting that criticism of the Federal Reserve is growing “as it wades into climate and equity issues.” While tensions are not new for the institution, the source is now different, the Post says. After years of criticism from the Trump administration, it now faces warnings of politicization from Republican lawmakers. As the Fed has taken a more expansive view of how it could work toward full employment, stable inflation and financial stability -- the loosely defined tasks Congress handed it -- conservative economists and lawmakers have complained that it risks going too far. One of the most prominent critics is Senator Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., and a member of the Senate Banking Committee. Such complaints don't carry much immediate threat, with Democrats in charge of Congress and the White House. But the mere accusation that the Fed is bowing to Democrats is a striking inflection point for a central bank that has often lived in America's imagination as a friend of bankers and free-market enthusiasts. The timing is also surprising since Republicans lead the institution. There's a reason for the shift, central bank watchers say: The Fed is trying to figure out how to do its job in a changing economy. "It's not so much a give in to political pressure as it is to economic reality," Steven Kelly, a researcher at Yale's Program on Financial Stability, said. That is particularly true when it comes to the focus on labor market equity, he said. The Fed is in charge of guiding the economy by setting the price of money. It moves interest rates to boost growth during bad times or to prevent painful overheating during good ones. Its national and regional policymakers -- 18 at present -- have been appointed by the president or by business and community leaders and do their jobs independent of the White House and with only arms-length oversight from Congress. Fed officials have guarded their independence fiercely and they generally refuse to weigh in on heated political debates. But they have occasionally made exceptions. Their opinions have at times been welcome to Republicans -- but that started to change after the 2007 to 2009 financial crisis, as Republicans sometimes accused former Fed Chair Alan Greenspan's successors of being political. When Janet Yellen, the Fed chair from 2014 to 2018 and now the Treasury secretary, talked about skyrocketing inequality, Republican lawmakers complained. In the years since, the Fed has become more emboldened to discuss issues that have an economic impact, even when they fall into areas of partisan disagreement. And Powell, who was appointed to the Fed by President Barack Obama but elevated to chair by Trump ushered in a new policy framework last year. It clarified that the Fed saw its full employment target as "a broad-based and inclusive goal." Chairman Powell said last week that the tweak was a nod to concerns about economic inequality at a time when low inflation rates had given the Fed leeway to foster a hotter job market that pulled more people in and pushed wages higher. And when the pandemic spurred a financial meltdown last March and April, the Fed introduced programs to keep credit flowing not just to Wall Street but also to Main Street, including state and local governments. In the subsequent months, Powell gently but firmly pushed for more congressional spending to shore up the economy. The Fed's emergency efforts were initially welcomed by both parties but ended in blowback the post says. In fact, Sen. Toomey held up stimulus negotiations in December 2020 to insert language that might have -- in its original format -- prevented the Fed from setting up programs that could help business or municipal borrowers. His office said the wording, which was eventually watered down, would protect the Fed from becoming a tool for Democrats. But Toomey has continued to raise concerns that the Fed is on the brink of losing its neutrality. "The Federal Reserve's independence and careful adherence to nonpartisanship has allowed it to avoid being seen as a politicized body," he wrote. "The Federal Reserve may pursue mission creep or welcome itself to political capture,” he continued. “But such activities are inconsistent with its statutory responsibilities." But Fed officials say the central bank is being pragmatic, not political. Chairman Powell said last week that the Fed sees such issues “through the lens of our existing mandates” -- racial, gender and other disparities in economic outcomes "hold the economy back," for example. Still, the Fed knows it's in fraught territory. When Fed officials talk about inequality, they often discuss opportunity -- a framing with more bipartisan backing. There is a risk if the Fed is seen as a "quote unquote Democratic institution," said Peter Conti-Brown, a Fed historian at the University of Pennsylvania. "The Fed always needs political support to do its job well," said Sarah Binder, a political scientist at George Washington University who studies the Fed's politics. And even now, some Democrats say the central bank could go further. Rep. Rashida Talib, D-Mich., has pushed the Fed to do more to get cheaper credit to states and localities, for instance. "I have a lot of respect for Chairman Powell," said Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., who has at times worried about the Fed's climate push. Still, Barr said, the regional banks risked "overstepping" by getting specific about social issues, inconsistent with the Fed's long history of jealously guarding its independence. So, we will see. The real test of the Fed's policies likely will be in future responses to inflation, if such trends develop. So far, the Fed has been quite transparent about its intentions in such cases, but actually sorting out the temporary from the dangerous can be extremely difficult and should be watched closely by producers as the economy bounces back from the COVID's destruction, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


House Republicans Unveil Climate Measures House Republicans Friday unveiled their own slate of climate measures to counter Democratic proposals as Biden has made combating global warming a top priority of his administration. The Agriculture Committee minority offered five bills that aim to encourage private-sector partnerships in conservation and to help farmers protect the health of soil, among other initiatives. Republican members on the House Natural Resources Committee proposed another measure aimed at reducing America's reliance on imported critical minerals. "We're no longer debating whether or not climate change is real," House Agriculture Committee Ranking Member Glenn "GT" Thompson, R-Pa., said in an interview. "We're simply debating the best way to address it." Thompson is also calling for the panel to hold hearings on USDA's farm bill implementation relative to climate goals that were in the 2018 Farm Bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no official reports scheduled for Tuesday, but traders will keep close watch on the latest weather forecasts. Export sales have been quiet lately, but any new announcements will be noticed. Weather Snow and light rain are in store for portions of the central Plains and western Midwest Tuesday. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be well below normal in northern and central areas with possible damage to winter wheat and emerged row crops.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


EPA Asking Corn, Oil for Input on the Next Phase of U.S. Biofuel Policy The Environmental Protection Agency wants industry groups to give input on where the future of U.S. biofuel policy is heading after the current phase finishes in 2022. Four sources told Reuters that this is a new opportunity for the oil, corn, and biofuel industries to reshape the Renewable Fuel Standard, the source of a bitter dispute between the industries for more than ten years. Under the regulation, the EPA will have discretion over the annual mandated biofuel blending volumes from 2023 forward, taking over that responsibility from Congress. Oil and biofuel groups have begun to meet with the EPA and talk about ways the agency could handle the RFS after that date. While the EPA declined to comment to Reuters, some groups like the American Petrochemical Institute say they want the EPA to use the RFS to encourage increased use of advanced and cellulosic biofuels instead of conventional biofuels like ethanol. Brooke Colman of the Advanced Biofuels Business Council says the EPA shouldn’t discourage conventional biofuel production in favor of other biofuels. “Any plan that displaces biofuel with biofuel is an innovation-killing non-starter that would cannibalize the industry revenue needed for investment in innovation,” Colman says. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Sorghum Exports Shatter Single-Week Record The USDA says American sorghum exports during the week ending on April ninth totaled a record-breaking 33.9 million bushels. That tops the previous record by more than 10 million bushels, a mark set in August 2020. In addition to the record-breaking exports, new sales commitments hit 33.8 million bushels, most of which got purchased by China. “Sorghum exports continue to show a strong demand for our crop, and new purchases at this level only reaffirm that,” says National Sorghum Producers CEO Tim Lust. “The size of shipments reported this last week is equivalent to the size of approximately 10-12 Panamax vessels.” New crop purchases of U.S. sorghum at this point in the marketing year are also at a record level, reaching 40 million bushels during the week ending April ninth. That’s a 264 percent increase from the previous record set in 2014. “This is the strongest new crop demand we have ever seen at this time of the season,” says Lust. “Availability is so scarce that the sorghum crop being planted now is being marketed at the same time.” He says this sends a strong demand signal to U.S. sorghum producers from their international customers. ********************************************************************************************** NPPC’s In-Person World Pork Expo Set for June The World Pork Expo will be an in-person event scheduled for June in Iowa. The National Pork Producers Council says that all of the needed COVID-19 protocols will be followed, and they believe their members are getting vaccinated. The event is June 9-11 at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. “The decision didn’t come lightly,” says NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “It was very carefully considered.” The Hagstrom Report says Sorenson notes that everyone in the pork industry values the in-person expo because they get together to do business, network, and adopt the latest technologies. NPPC officials say they don’t have specific numbers on how many of their members are getting COVID vaccinations, but they don’t know of any members declining the vaccine. CEO Neil Dierks says he’s talked to multiple members who say they’ve had their first or second shots. He believes producers are getting the vaccine because vaccinations are “part of the industry culture.” The trade show will include social distancing and hand-washing stations. As far as required proof of vaccination, COVID tests, or temperature checks, officials say the expo will follow government recommendations at the time of the event. ********************************************************************************************** Produce Union Unhappy with USDA’s Cancellation of Food Box Program A trade group in the fruit and vegetable industry is unhappy with the USDA’s decision to cancel the Farmers to Families Food Box Distribution Program. United Fresh says millions of Americans gained access to healthy, fresh produce throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, calling the decision by Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack “shortsighted.” The group says comments disparaging the program were a slap in the face to the thousands of volunteers, non-profits, regional food distributors, and farmers who worked together in communities across the country to deliver healthy foods to people in their time of great need. “For a major new program put together rapidly in a time of crisis, the food box program certainly included challenges,” United Fresh says in a news release. “Yet, hundreds of community non-profits and nutrition advocates have found delivering fresh produce directly to those in need has great potential to truly make a difference in the health of millions of Americans.” The trade group says the sudden decision seems more like a political statement against a program started by a former administration than an objective evaluation of the program’s ability to improve Americans’ health. “USDA bears a tremendous responsibility to develop new programs to get fresh, healthy foods to people in need,” they say. *********************************************************************************************** USDA Looking to Halt Decline in Conservation Reserve Sign-Ups Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the USDA is only days away from announcing “greater opportunities” for landowners to take fragile farmland out of production in exchange for a payment. A Successful Farming article says the Biden Administration is looking for ways to halt a 13-year decline in the number of signups under the Conservation Reserve Program, the largest land set-aside program in the country. Vilsack recently told Illinois public radio that the CRP could play a role in President Biden’s plan to make American agriculture the first in the world to get to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 20.8 million acres are enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program, with contracts on three million acres set to expire on September 30. While the 2018 Farm Bill calls for gradually raising the enrollment cap to 27 million acres, it lowered the annual rental rate to landowners to pay for those extra acres. Some senators had said last fall that the USDA was “being stingy” with the incentives and bonuses it had previously offered to encourage producer participation. *********************************************************************************************** USDA Announces 2021 Cotton Loan Rate Differential The USDA announced the 2021 crop loan rate differentials for upland and extra-long staple cotton, which are applied to the crop loan rate to determine the per-bale actual loan rate. The differentials, also referred to as loan rate premiums and discounts, get calculated based on market valuations of various cotton quality factors over the prior three years. The 2021 crop differential schedules get applied to 2021 crop loan rates of 52 cents per pound for the base grade of upland cotton and 95 cents per pound for extra-long-staple cotton. The 2018 Farm Bill stipulates that the loan rate for the base quality of upland cotton ranges between 45 and 52 cents per pound based on the simple average of the Adjusted World Price for the two marketing years immediately preceding the current marketing year. But the loan rate cannot be less than 98 percent of the preceding year’s loan. The loan rate provided to an individual cotton bale is based on the quality of each bale as determined by the USDA’s Ag Marketing Service classing measurements. The differentials are important to cotton producers because they’re used to derive the actual loan rate for each bale of cotton, above (premium) or below (discount) the average per pound loan rate, depending on the grade or quality of the cotton.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Currency Manipulation Concerns The New York Times reported late last week that the Treasury Department put Taiwan, Vietnam and Switzerland on notice over their currency practices -- but struck a more conciliatory tone than the previous administration and stopped short of actually labeling any of them as manipulators. The announcement came in the Treasury's first foreign exchange report under Secretary Janet Yellen. Treasury reports to Congress twice yearly in an effort to hold the U.S. trading partners accountable if they try to gain an unfair advantage in international commerce through currency manipulation. The U.S. requires "manipulators" to enter into negotiations with the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund to address the situation. The blemish is somewhat symbolic but can lead to tariffs or other retaliation if talks collapse. Both Switzerland and Vietnam were listed as "manipulators" last year and their removal on Friday means no country currently faces that designation. Still, Treasury said there were signs that Switzerland, Vietnam and Taiwan engaged in “improper practices,” "Treasury is working to address efforts by foreign economies to artificially manipulate their currency values that put American workers at an unfair disadvantage," Secretary Yellen said. Last week's decision is the latest attempt by the administration to deescalate tension with U.S. allies after four years of former President Donald Trump's confrontational approach to international economic diplomacy. It also steers the United States away from "the Trump fixation" on bilateral trade imbalances, taking "a more holistic view of trade relationships," the Times said. Treasury officials noted the extraordinary economic conditions brought on by the pandemic in the last year and said they were not trying to send mixed messages by suggesting manipulation was taking place but not labeling it as such. "This report adopts a more measured and analytical tone in evaluating U.S. trading partners' currency practices relative to the previous administration's approach of wielding the report as a political tool," said Eswar Prasad, the International Monetary Fund's former China chief. He said the Biden administration's report "comes to analytically balanced assessments of foreign exchange market intervention by U.S. trading partners." The Trump administration labeled Vietnam and Switzerland as manipulators in its final report in 2020, but the Biden administration said it found "insufficient evidence" to support the designation now. To receive the label, Treasury must conclude that a country manipulates the exchange rate between its currency and the dollar for "purposes of preventing effective balance of payments adjustments or gaining unfair competitive advantage in international trade." Treasury instead said it would continue "enhanced engagement" with Vietnam and Switzerland and begin similar talks with Taiwan, which includes urging the trading partners to address undervaluation of their currencies. There is no fixed duration for how long such talks can go without a resolution. Mark Sobel, the chairman of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum, said the Biden administration was wise to take a more nuanced approach. He noted that Switzerland faced unusual monetary policy and safe-haven challenges and that Vietnam's foreign exchange reserves had been low when it received the manipulator label last year. A government can suppress the value of its currency by selling it in foreign exchange markets and stockpiling dollars. Moreover, Taiwan, Thailand and South Korea have traditionally been even worse offenders than Switzerland and Vietnam, according to Sobel, although the United States has avoided calling them out for it. "I think the new Treasury team is more willing to recognize that the relative policy divergence between the U.S. and others is a significant factor in that," Sobel said. "I also think the Trump administration approach was much more belligerent as a general proposition." Taiwan was the 10th-largest U.S. trading partner in 2019, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative. Vietnam was the 13th largest and Switzerland the 16th. While the United States has been deepening ties with Taiwan as part of its effort to confront China, the Biden administration is also calling for a major investment in America's semiconductor industry to reduce the nation's reliance on imports from Taiwan and other countries. The Treasury report said that Taiwan's central bank "continues to actively intervene in the foreign exchange market" and that "less formal exchange rate management practices" had prevented the Taiwanese dollar from fully reflecting macroeconomic fundamentals. Currency analysts say they have been expecting the Biden administration to put more pressure on Taiwan to change its foreign exchange practices for some time. The Council on Foreign Relations reported in 2019 that Taiwan was hiding $130 billion in reserves to mask its currency interventions and that the case for naming it a manipulator was stronger than the case for naming China. The Treasury Department did not label China a currency manipulator either, instead urging it to improve transparency over its foreign exchange practices. Treasury kept China, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand on its currency monitoring list, and added Ireland and Mexico. So, we will see. Currency manipulation is difficult to prove especially as volatile economic forces cause fluctuations in many situations. Still, relationships among currencies are extremely important and should be watched closely by government officials and investors alike as markets evolve, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


Nigeria To Halt Foreign Currency For Sugar, Wheat Importers The Nigerian central bank said on social media Friday that the country will no longer provide foreign currency to importers of sugar and wheat as it tries to conserve dollar reserves. "Sugar and wheat to go into our FX restriction list. We must work together to produce these items in Nigeria rather than import them," the central bank said in a tweet, according to Reuters. The mention of the FX restriction list refers to an action in 2015 which they restricted foreign exchange access for 41 items that could be produced locally and they have added products to that list over time. However, they have altered the policy at times. They banned access to foreign exchange for dairy imports and ordered lenders to stop offering credit to milk importers in a bid to spur domestic production. However, they later lifted the foreign exchange restrictions for six firms to import milk after businesses complained. USDA export sales data shows that Nigeria has been either the second or third largest importer of U.S. wheat since the 2015-16 marketing year, taking in anywhere from 836,200 metric tons to 1.09 million metric tons. Through the week ended April 8, U.S. wheat export commitments to Nigeria total 1.39 mmt, with only 250,000 mt of that business yet to be shipped. For 2021-22, Nigeria has booked 168,000 mt of U.S. wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


USTR Tai, Rep. Brady Deliver Two Diverging Trade Views Trade was in focus Thursday as U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai delivered remarks on trade to two different groups, and the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady, R-Texas, also offered up his views on trade issues, with the two focusing on different areas. Tai spoke to the Center for American Progress and laid out a view that climate has to become a component in global trade policy. "For too long, the traditional trade community has resisted the view that trade policy is a legitimate tool in helping to solve the climate crisis," Tai remarked. "That dated line of thinking only perpetuates the chasm that exists between the lived experiences -- and expectations -- of real people on the one hand, and trade experts on the other." She said the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) should serve as a template ahead even as she called it a "glaring omission" in the trade deal she helped move through Congress that it does not explicitly mention climate change. Meanwhile, Brady told the Center for Strategic and International Studies that the U.S. needs to get off the sidelines on trade, a reference to the Biden administration signaling they are not focused on negotiating new trade deals. "I believe the first step is to renew without delay Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which for all practical purposes, has already expired. Every president of any party should have this important tool," Brady said. He chided the administration for not giving any indication of completing trade negotiations started under the Trump administration with the UK, Kenya and Japan. He also criticized the administration for as of yet not asking Congress to renew TPA, which officials like USDA's Vilsack have said is coming. The global minimum tax proposal floated by the Biden administration was also rejected by Brady. "There is a lot of concern on Capitol Hill that we will be party to negotiations that ultimately are a revenue grab on American companies, but more importantly would surrender America's tax base to our foreign global competitors," Brady said.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts to start off the new week and will pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m., followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Spring snow is in store Monday for the north-central Plains and portions of the western Midwest. Other crop areas will be mainly dry. The snow is an indicator of a strong cold wave which brings a freeze threat to the southern Plains and Midwest Tuesday. Freezing temperatures are threatening for winter wheat and emerged corn.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 16, 2021 |


U.S. Drought Monitor: Tale of Two Regions The U.S. Drought Monitor shows a tale of two regions—the East and the West. The Western U.S., in the latest Drought Monitor released Thursday, shows much of the region in drought categories, with several areas classified in extreme or exceptional drought, the two most severe categories. Comparatively, the Eastern U.S. is mostly drought-free from the Eastern seaboard to the Central Plains. Drawing a line from the eastern border of Texas to the North is where much of the trouble begins. Having missed out on rainfall, conditions continued to deteriorate in south-central Oklahoma and in North, South and West Texas. Meanwhile, much of the West remained dry. Where precipitation did fall, in the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rockies, it either missed the drought-inflicted areas or wasn’t enough to overcome shortages. Decreases in water allocation and reduced or negligible forage are causing livestock producers to respond by culling and selling herds. Fire crews are also arriving in California earlier than normal. ************************************************************************************ KC Fed: Farm Lending Remains Muted in Early 2021 Farm loan demand remained muted at commercial banks in the first quarter of 2021. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank reports that a reduction in the volume of operating loans led to an overall decline in total non-real estate lending. Financing activity also declined more notably at banks with relatively large farm loan portfolios, while lending was more stable among small and mid-size lenders. The KC Fed says factors specific to the pandemic in 2020 likely contributed to the reduced lending activity as the year progressed. Substantial government aid through various programs in 2020 provided financial support. In addition, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program accounted for a sizable share of loans reported, and likely displaced a portion of typical financing needs. Despite some challenges for cattle producers, financial conditions in agriculture remain favorable. The outlook for 2021 remained significantly improved from recent years, but rising input costs could also weigh on profit margins in the months ahead. ************************************************************************************ Grilling Season Rally Progressing Higher than Normal This year’s grilling season rally is higher than normal, fueled by vaccine availability, stimulus checks and the opening of ballparks. Cattle market analyst Ed Czerwien writes in Cattle Business Weekly the daily spot Choice box beef cutout ended last week, April 9, at $272.17, which was $19.32 higher compared to the previous Friday. Last year it was $223.93 on the same Friday, which was $6.51 lower, after jumping higher during the panic retail buying amid the coronavirus pandemic last year. However, last year then skyrocketed much higher during the packing plant shutdowns, topping out at $475.00 in early May. Last week, sales totaled 6,865 loads sold for the week, 153 loads higher than the previous week. Exports were reported at 956 loads which was good, but 116 loads lower compared to the previous week and about 800 lower than two weeks ago, which is normal when prices skyrocket higher. ************************************************************************************ NCBA Endorses House Companion of HAULS Act The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association just endorsed the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety, or HAULS Act of 2021. Introduced in the House of Representatives by Tennessee Republican John Rose and Democrat Darren Soto of Florida, NCBA says the bipartisan bill would deliver much-needed flexibility for livestock haulers. The House bill introduced this week is a companion to a bill introduced in the Senate last month. NCBA President Jerry Bohn says of the legislation, “Livestock haulers don’t need more regulatory hoops to jump through – they need the freedom and flexibility to continue transporting animals safely and humanely.” Current hours-of-service rules allow for 11 hours of drive time, 14 hours of on-duty time, and then require ten consecutive hours of rest. However, when transporting livestock, there is a need for further flexibility beyond the current hours-of-service. The HAULS Act would add a 150 air-mile radius exemption under hours-of-service regulations to the backend of hauls for those transporting livestock or agricultural commodities. ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends Comment for Proposed Revisions to Conservation Practice Standards The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service recently extended the deadline for public comment on proposed revisions to 23 national conservation practice standards. The proposed revisions were published March 9 in the Federal Register with comments originally due April 8. Comments will now be due April 22. NRCS is encouraging agricultural producers, landowners, organizations, Tribes and others that use its conservation practices to comment on the revised conservation practice standards. The proposed revisions to 23 conservation practice standards are available on the Federal Register website. The 2018 farm bill required NRCS to review all 169 existing national conservation practices to seek opportunities to increase flexibility and incorporate new technologies to help the nation’s farmers and ranchers better protect natural resources. In 2020, 57 conservation practice standards were updated after public review and are available on nrcs.usda.gov. NRCS’s conservation practices offer guidelines for planning, installing, operating and maintaining conservation practices nationwide. ************************************************************************************ Fertilizer Institute Announces New Tools to Better Understand Crop Nutrition The Fertilizer Institute recently announced two new updates to crop nutrient use tools. The tools provide the industry with scientifically backed data to better track nutrient use and nutrient balances across the United States. Working together, the Nutrient Use Geographic Information System and the Soil Test Summary are an index of performance, both agronomic and environmental. The tools indicate how well a cropping system uses crop nutrients. The two platforms can help provide an estimate of nutrient deficiencies and nutrients susceptible to loss, providing the fertilizer industry and farmers with insight into improving nutrient use efficiency and nutrient balance. Corey Rosenbusch, TFI President and CEO, says data from the tools position the organization "to collaborate with partners and soil testing labs to aggregate and analyze this information for our members and stakeholders." Both NuGIS and the Soil Test Summary are collaborations between TFI, the Foundation for Agronomic Research, and Plant Nutrition Canada. You can access both tools online at www.tfi.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 16, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Slowing Climate Change a Challenge for Biden Foreign Policy The press is widely reporting this week that the Biden administration is working to make a splash about climate change in the coming days. For example, Bloomberg says John Kerry "has been flying around the world trying to get some of the biggest polluters to step up their fight against climate change in time for a White House Earth Day summit on April 22." The report indicates that the April goal could turn out to be a disappointment. Kerry, the president's climate envoy, has been meeting with diplomats to reestablish America as a leader on global climate action after four years of backtracking under former President Donald Trump, Bloomberg says. "That means setting an ambitious 2030 emissions-reduction target and then cajoling others to strengthen their goals." There may be a problem overcoming the world's mistrust, Bloomberg thinks, "since the U.S. reneged on its climate promises before." "They've clearly been looking to try to encourage other countries to increase their ambition, but I don't think this is the date," said Pete Ogden, who served in the Obama administration and is now vice president for energy, climate and the environment at the United Nations Foundation. "I do not expect that everything will be on a glide path to 1.5 (Celsius) degrees," he said. The Paris Agreement strives to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, the limit scientists say is needed to avoid the worst effects of global warming. To get there the world will have to zero out greenhouse gases emissions by 2050, a timeline that will only be achieved if countries step up their climate action significantly. In its efforts to build deals by Earth Day, the administration is reporting favorable results for some close allies, but building agreements with powers like China, Brazil and India is proving difficult. The New York Times says the administration is nearing agreements with Japan and Canada to bolster carbon emission reduction targets ahead of a closely watched summit of global leaders on Earth Day, April 22. It says that "in the latest sign of how difficult it will be for President Biden to make climate change a core part of his foreign policy, similar agreements are also needed with China, India and Brazil, economic powerhouses that together produce more than a third of global emissions, and which remain elusive." The cooperation of China, the world's largest emitter of climate-changing pollution, is vital to slowing global warming--but Beijing is also Washington's biggest rival on the world stage, the Times notes. With Brazil, the Biden administration's efforts to negotiate an Amazon rainforest protection plan with conservative president, Jair Bolsonaro, have bitterly divided environmental advocates, given the Bolsonaro administration's dismal environmental record. And in India, where Kerry recently wrapped up three days of negotiations that did not yield any specific promise to strengthen New Delhi's climate ambition, the administration must weigh its need for cooperation with its concerns over human rights, the Times says. Indian leaders, meantime, have been unsettled by pressure to deliver an announcement in time for the administration's summit after spending the past four years working with a U.S. administration that abandoned the rest of the world's efforts to tackle global warming. "Maybe there's a little bit of time lag that will go into building that trust and relationship back," said Aarti Khosla, director of Climate Trends, a climate change nonprofit based in New Delhi. The focal point of the Leaders' Summit on Climate will be the Biden administration's plan to cut American emissions by 2030, and how it can overcome fierce Republican opposition. The ambitions and practicality of that target could determine the Biden administration's success in convincing other nations to do more than they have already pledged. "Summitry is theater, and it can be extremely impactful if there is a big centerpiece," said Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School at Tufts University and a climate adviser for the United Nations Secretary General. "That centerpiece is the U.S. plan." Publicly, the Biden administration has tried to dampen expectations that other countries will make major announcements at the U.S. event. Behind the scenes, though, State Department diplomats have been hustling to prod allies into doing just that. Kerry, in a statement, declined to specifically address the likelihood of other countries joining the United States in big announcements, saying the summit "will be a chance for major economies and other countries to work together at the highest possible levels to address the climate crisis." U.S. progress toward new agreements with some industrialized countries in less than three months is a testament to the climate diplomacy that Kerry has conducted, the Times says. He has traveled to six countries and held what aides described as dozens of video conferences and calls each week since January. Yoshihide Suga, the prime minister of Japan, is expected to announce a new emissions target in the range of 50 percent below 2013 levels by 2030 in the near future. The United States and Japan also have been discussing new restrictions on coal financing, though an announcement on that remains unclear. A major South Korean news outlet, the Maeil Business Newspaper, reported this week that South Korean leaders were poised to announce an overseas coal financing moratorium. And Canada, which already has signed a strong bilateral agreement with the United States on climate change, has said it will announce stronger targets at the summit. So, we will see. Certainly, climate change agreements are a central part if the administration's goals and producers should watch the details of these efforts very closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 16, 2021 |


USDA's NASS Undertaking Major Review of Grain Stocks Report USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is undertaking a “deep dive” on the policies and procedures the agency uses to prepare its Grain Stocks report, Lance Honig, head of the NASS crops branch, said during the first day of a virtual data users meeting. Sampling methods, questionnaires used to gather data and the processing of that information will be the focus. Findings of the review and recommendations are due by September 30, he noted. Honig acknowledged questions that have arisen over the Grain Stocks report in particular, where revisions to prior stocks figures have caused market reactions. Honig insisted that NASS has not altered its revision policy and said most of the adjustments on prior numbers were from late or updated reports from commercial grain storage firms. Honig told IHS Markit that the late reports are a combination typically of ones that come in after the deadline for the prior quarter or are corrected reports from the prior quarter and those can come into the agency at any time. Any changes recommended would not be put in place until after October 1, with any changes that are linked to manuals or training documents to be implemented immediately. He also pointed out during the data users meeting that that in the quarterly stocks data there is also an element of forecasting that takes place relative to imports, exports, food and industrial use, another factor that can produce revisions once final data in those areas for the quarter is available.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 16, 2021 |


Still More Questions Than Answers On Coming Ag Climate Efforts USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack fielded several questions on climate change and coming policy plans from the Biden administration relative to agriculture as he testified on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget plans for his agency. While the details of the major portion of the budget are yet to be released, Vilsack addressed questions on the proposed funding increase for USDA climate hubs. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., raised comments by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates that consumers in rich countries should be eating meat alternatives, something Fortenberry said would negatively impact his state and its cattle industry. Asked if he agreed with Gates' comments, Vilsack stated that he believes farmers are "great stewards" and that they will "embrace climate smart agriculture practices" and animal stewardship activities "and be able to allow us to message the ability and importance of animal protein production." He also said he did not favor barring certain technologies and expressed support for methane-reducing technologies and the ability to capture methane from cows could be important tools. There was little fresh information offered on the administration's plans for a carbon bank or how they intend to create climate programs for crop farmers.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 16, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, a report on U.S. housing starts for March will be released, followed by the University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment at 9 a.m. Traders will keep a close watch on the latest weather forecasts as we head into the weekend. Any export sales news will also get attention as USDA has not had a U.S. corn sale announced in April yet. Weather Rain and snow are in store for most of the Plains Friday. Amounts will be light to moderate in the southern Plains and light in the northern Plains. Southern Plains crop areas will have favorable moisture, with no more than slight drought easing in the northern Plains. We'll also see light rain in the Delta and Deep South along with the Great Lakes. A notable cooling trend will spread farther south as well. Meanwhile, dry and very warm conditions will stress northwest crop areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 15, 2021 |


USDA Cancels Farmers to Family Food Box Program Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told House lawmakers Wednesday the Department of Agriculture is ending the Farmers to Families Food Box program. Representative David Valadao, a California Republican, stated, “although it wasn’t a perfect program, this program provided families with healthy, nutritious food items grown here in the U.S.,” asking Vilsack what USDA will do next. Vilsack says USDA will continue to provide healthy food, but doing so through the most efficient system USDA has. Vilsack responded, “A lot of problems with it, Representative, a lot of problems,” regarding the cancellation during a House Ag Appropriations Committee hearing. Vilsack told lawmakers USDA will take the best of the program, “and incorporate it into our traditional regular programs that are very efficient of food distribution.” USDA announced new pandemic aid programs Monday to help make up for the Farmers to Families Food Box program. The program purchased U.S. commodities and food for distribution to the public. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Further Pandemic Aid The Department of Agriculture this week announced the availability of more than $330 million as part of the Pandemic Assistance for Producers program. The funding includes $169.9 million for the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, $75 million for Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program grantees and approximately $80 million in payments to domestic users of upland and extra-long staple cotton. The funding will aid in developing new markets for U.S. agricultural products, expand the specialty crop food sector, and the purchase of fruits and vegetables by low-income consumers. USDA also announced plans for the Dairy Donation Program as established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. USDA launched the Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative in March with $6.5 billion in available funding to address shortfalls and disparities in how assistance was distributed in previous COVID-19 assistance packages, with a specific focus on strengthening outreach to underserved producers and communities and small and medium agricultural operations. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Outlines Top Legislative Priorities Expanding market access to Vietnam, visa reform to address a livestock agriculture labor shortage, and foreign animal disease prevention are the focus of the National Pork Producers Council's Legislative Action Conference this week. Pork producers from across the country are gathering virtually to address these and other issues with lawmakers. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, “Trade remains crucial to the continued success of the U.S. pork industry.” Domestic pork consumption in Vietnam is greater than 2.5 million metric tons per year, more than Mexico, where the United States exported 688,252 Metric tons, valued at $1.1 billion in 2020. Last year, U.S. pork producers only exported 25,183 metric tons to Vietnam, valued at $54 million. Additionally, NPPC says current visa programs fail to meet the workforce needs of pork producers and other year-round livestock farmers. NPPC is urging Congress to address labor reform that both opens the H-2A visa program to year-round labor, without a cap, and provides legal status for agricultural workers already in the country. ************************************************************************************ Stabenow Introduces Rural Forest Markets Act Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow Wednesday introduced the bipartisan Rural Forest Markets Act. The Michigan Democrat, joined by Senate Republican Mike Braun of Indiana, introduced the bill to remove barriers for small-scale, family foresters and help them benefit from new economic opportunities through climate solutions like carbon markets. The bill is the latest bipartisan climate-smart forestry legislation to come out of the committee after the REPLANT Act was introduced last month. Stabenow says, “For too long, there have been barriers that prevent family foresters from being able to take advantage of the economic benefits of the carbon reduction efforts they’ve been doing.” As companies increasingly express interest in offsetting their footprint through carbon and other environmental markets, foresters are tapping into those opportunities and being financially rewarded for the voluntary, sustainable steps they’re taking in managing their land. The legislation provides a federal loan guarantee to support projects that help small forest owners address climate and other environmental challenges by adopting sustainable land management practices. ************************************************************************************ USAID Launchers Effort to Combat Infectious Disease threat, Antimicrobial Resistance The United States Agency for International Development has tapped a consortium led by Cargill to improve livestock management and combat the threat of diseases to both human and animal health. The five-year, $33 million Transformational Strategies for Farm Output Risk Mitigation consortium will harness innovation to sustainably improve animal health, strengthen animal agriculture production systems in Asia and Africa and enhance global health security. As a farm-based initiative, the effort will prioritize efforts to decrease the risks of antimicrobial resistance, diseases spread from animals to humans such as foodborne pathogens, anthrax and Avian and swine influenza. The group will also consider transboundary animal diseases, such as foot-and-mouth disease and African swine fever. Scientists estimate that more than three out of five known infectious diseases in people can be spread from animals. The effort seeks to increase the capacity of government, agribusinesses, and farmers to prevent and, if needed, identify, and quickly respond to these threats to human health. ************************************************************************************ USDA NIFA Invest $14 million in Ag Workforce Training The Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently announced more than $14 million in workforce training grants. USDA NIFA has awarded $9.4 million in funding for 19 Agricultural Workforce Training grants, and 12 awards totaling $4.8 million for rural economic development projects. The grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. The Agricultural Workforce training grants will provide community, technical or junior college students the skills and tools necessary to secure industry-accepted credentials to join the workforce. NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille says, “These awards will help students earn a two-year degree or an industry-accepted credential that will create better job opportunities and fuel the talent pipeline needed in the food and agricultural sector.” NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges, and supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 15, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Recent Past Not Much Guide to Inflation The New York Times is reporting this week that keeping track of inflationary pressures is hard, and that it is important not to be fooled by reported numbers -- which are mainly backward-looking -- and "not necessarily a sign of what's ahead." For example, the Times says we could be on the "verge of a golden era for inflation nonsense," and it suggests that its start date may well turn out to have been Tuesday morning, when new data on consumer prices were released. Still, the concern is important and the Times says that the potential for misunderstanding derives from several forces crashing against one another at once. It expects that there are sure to be shortages of some goods and services as the economy creaks back to life. There are growing, valid concerns for investors and policy makers since the trillions of dollars of government stimulus dollars "could push the economy beyond its limits and create a broad-based overheating." But to be a savvy consumer of economic data, it's important to separate those potential forces from the inflation data coming right now, the article says. It believes this "tells us more about the past than the future." Don't take the backward-looking information in the new report as proof that those inflation warnings are coming true. The Consumer Price Index in March reflected a 12-month increase of 2.6%, which on its face would appear to be an uncomfortably high rate of inflation. That said, the Times notes that it had been higher than that for several 12-month periods ending in mid-2018. But March 2020 was not a normal month. The pandemic shut down huge parts of the economy virtually overnight. It would be hard for that kind of experience not to create distortions in economic data. NYT says the term for this is "base effects" and that it is the "misleading results" that can show up in year-over-year numbers when something weird happened 12 months ago. To get a better sense of true inflation trends, it helps to look at percent change in prices since February 2020, adjusted to reflect an annual rate instead of a 13-month rate. Using that measure, "we see a considerably more nuanced picture." Overall consumer price inflation is running at 2.2% -- very close to the 2% that the Federal Reserve aims for, especially considering that the CPI runs a few tenths of a percent higher than the inflation index preferred by the Fed. In the guts of the new numbers, we see how the recovery "creates distinct inflation dynamics in different parts of the economy." For example, gasoline prices are up an annualized 12.3% since February 2020 -- maybe not as dramatic as the 22.5% year-over-year price rise reported in March but still enough to suggest that people unhappy with prices at the pump have something to complain about. Specifically, in the early months of the pandemic, energy demand collapsed and drillers of oil and natural gas pulled back on exploration accordingly. Demand for gasoline, jet fuel and other petroleum products is finally rising but energy producers can't flip a switch and produce enough fuel to meet that demand overnight and are doubtless scarred by their losses last spring. Similarly, grocery prices are up substantially: an annualized 3.8% rise since February 2020, led by a 5.9% rise in the price of meat, poultry, fish and eggs. If it feels as if proteins are more expensive than before the pandemic, "you're not imagining it," the Times says. Central bankers tend to look past swings in energy and food prices which tend to fluctuate in ways that don't portend inflation across the economy. But some elements of "core" inflation are also showing odd inflation dynamics, even when corrected for base effects. Used cars and trucks, for example, are up an annualized 11% since February 2020, most likely because many people sought a way to get around besides public transport. The flip side of that is that airfares are still far below its pre-pandemic levels, down an adjusted 23.9% from February 2020. There is plenty of reason to expect that airplanes will be crowded this summer, especially on routes to leisure destinations, as a newly vaccinated population looks to stretch its wings. But prices still have not caught up to their pre-pandemic norm. Oh, and clothing is still cheaper than pre-pandemic levels as well, with a 2.7% adjusted fall in apparel prices since February 2020. The Times sees a lesson in the sharp divergences in these sectors and that it shows the importance of looking at economic data more deeply than usual in the coming months. Many of the sectors with the most extreme price effects from the pandemic bottomed out in April or May, not March -- meaning the distortions in year-over-year numbers could get even bigger over the next few months. But beyond that, with so many parts of the economy going through wrenching change, headline numbers on inflation or anything else will mean less than usual in the coming months. The Biden administration and the Federal Reserve are betting on a one-time reset, with temporary price spikes followed by a steadying of both inflation and growth in 2022. If something more pernicious arrives, it won't show up as a few weird data points in 2021, but as a broad-based surge in prices across the economy that becomes a cycle of rising prices. So, we will see. The Times warns that to understand an economy in uncharted territory, the details matter more than the headlines. This is probably good advice that should be heeded by producers as they continue to evaluate future trends, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 15, 2021 |


USDA Details Help For Cotton USDA will provide approximately $80 million in additional payments to domestic users of upland and extra-long staple cotton to support textile mills impacted by the pandemic under a one-time payment program -- the Pandemic Assistance for Cotton Users (PACU) program. The payment rate will be $0.06 per pound to domestic users based on a 3-year monthly average during 2017 through 2019, covering 10 months in 2020. The program and payment formula were established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. USDA will use consumption information previously submitted to USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) by domestic cotton users as participants of the Economic Adjustment Assistance for Textile Mills (EAATM) and Special Competitive Provisions for Extra Long Staple Cotton (ELS) to determine payments. The payments could start to go to domestic cotton users in mid- to late-April.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 15, 2021 |


USDA Announces Dairy Donation Effort to Start Soon Implementation of the Dairy Donation Program (DDP) as established in the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021 to "facilitate the timely donation of dairy products to nonprofit organizations that distribute food to persons in need and prevent and minimize food waste" will be coming soon, USDA said Tuesday. USDA has provided an advance notice of minimum provisions to be included in the program to encourage the dairy industry to process and donate surplus milk supplies as it moves through the spring surplus milk production season. While noting the regulations for the effort have not been published in the Federal Register, USDA laid out minimum requirements for the program that was included in law. Those minimum requirements include: 1) a donation and distribution plan must be submitted and approved by USDA; 2) the reimbursement will be at least equivalent to the minimum classified value of milk used to make the donated product on the date of manufacturing; 3) records related to donating and receiving products must be maintained and available for review and/or audit; 4) eligibility is open to dairy farmer cooperatives and processors who "account to" a Federal milk marketing order (FMMO) and donate dairy products to any private or public nonprofit food distribution entity. The regulations for the dairy effort have also not been sent forward from USDA to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the usual interagency review.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 15, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims, U.S. retail sales for March and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The Fed's report on March industrial production is set for 8:15 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. USDA monthly outlook for Livestock, Dairy and Poultry is due out at 11 a.m., roughly the same time the National Oilseeds Processors Association will have an estimate of soybean crush for March. Weather Thursday features a spring snowstorm in portions of the western High Plains and light to moderate rain in the southwestern Plains through western and southern Texas. Rain is also in store for the Gulf Coast and the Great Lakes. Other crop areas will be dry. Much cooler air will spread throughout the central and eastern U.S. through the end of the week, slowing field work and crop progress.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 14, 2021 |


Ag Coalition Calls Infrastructure Proposal a Good Start The Rebuild Rural Coalition calls President Joe Biden's Infrastructure plan a good starting point for discussions with Congress. The group of more than 260 organizations representing rural communities and agriculture says in a statement, "We strongly encourage a bipartisan approach that considers the unique needs of rural infrastructure – and sets aside specific funding for rural communities." In a January letter, the coalition outlined the needs of rural America, while highlighting U.S. agriculture's ability to produce and efficiently transport products across the globe, adding, "Our deteriorating infrastructure threatens that leadership position." Beyond transportation, the coalition says other needs of rural America include locks and dams, railroads, electrical and water systems, agriculture research, broadband and healthcare and housing. The coalition says, "We hope Congress will work together to find bipartisan solutions that benefit all of America, including our rural communities.” The coalition is comprised of national agriculture and rural business groups and state Farm Bureau’s, commodity organizations, among others. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA Defend Year-Round E15 in Court Corn and biofuels groups made their arguments Tuesday in a court case for year-round E15. Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association and the National Corn Growers gave oral arguments in American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers vs. EPA to the D.C. Circuit Court. Oil refiners are challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2019 rulemaking that paved the way for the year-round sale of E15. In a joint statement, Growth Energy, RFA, and NCGA said, "Oil refiners are simply trying to reclaim more market share by blocking American drivers from year-round access” to E15. In June 2019, EPA issued its final rule extending the Reid Vapor Pressure volatility waiver to E15, and found that E15 is substantially similar to E10 certification fuel, allowing its introduction into commerce by fuel manufacturers without the need for a separate E15 waiver. The action allowed for the sale of E15 fuels year-round. Oil refiners are now challenging the rulemaking in an attempt to “undermine the expansion of biofuels in our nation’s fuel supply.” ************************************************************************************ Fertilizer Costs Shape Crop Production Expenses The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service reports production costs for corn and other major commodities are shaped by fertilizer cost. From 2010 to 2019, fertilizer was a major expense in U.S. corn production, accounting for 33 to 44 percent of operating costs-a category that includes other variable expenses like seed, chemicals, fuel, and repairs. Fertilizer also comprised 16 to 24 percent of the average corn producer's total costs, which include overhead charges like land costs, machinery depreciation and farm taxes. Most U.S. corn acres are planted in April and May, and growers often purchase their inputs months in advance. Prices for fertilizer have risen since August 2020, with an even more pronounced surge starting in January 2021. USDA says farmers who made fertilizer purchases for the 2021 corn crop before this uptick may incur similar fertilizer costs to the 2019 and 2020 crops, while those who have waited may pay significantly higher costs. ************************************************************************************ March Farm Tractor Sales Show Broad Growth, Close Positive First Quarter U.S. farm tractor unit sales extended their growth streak to eleven straight months. Canada also extended its own streak with a strong month of March, according to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 84.1 percent in March compared to 2020. Meanwhile, U.S. combine sales grew 6.7 percent. For Canada, March monthly tractor and combine sales were positive across all segments. Total farm tractor sales were up 84.3 percent for March 2021. Combine sales in Canada were reported flat at 95 units sold. Curt Blades AEM, Senior Vice President of Ag Services, says, “It’s not just the length of time of this growth streak, but the size of growth that makes me feel optimistic this will continue past the 12-month mark.” A recent survey by AEM found increased customer demand has manufacturers optimistic sales will increase or remain stable, despite COVID-19 and workforce challenges in 2021. ************************************************************************************ Farmers National Company Reports Booming Land Sales The dollar volume of land sales listed and sold by Farmers National Company during the first six months of its fiscal year ending March 31 was up 56 percent over the same period last year. Farmers National Company reports sales are up 67 percent over the average of the past three years. Total acres sold to date are up 59 percent compared to last year and 26 percent over two years ago. The number of sales transactions handled saw an increase of ten percent over last year. The increase in land sales activity at Farmers National Company contrasts with what has generally been described as a slower land market that has had a steady to somewhat less amount of land for sale in most areas. While the number of auctions held by Farmers National Company during the past six months was only down two from last year, the number of private treaty land sales was up 48 percent. ************************************************************************************ FCC Looks to Consumers to Find Broadband Gaps The Federal Communications Commission wants consumers to test broadband speeds to help find broadband gaps. As part of the Commission’s Broadband Data Collection effort, the FCC is encouraging the public to download the FCC’s Speed Test app, which is currently used to collect speed test data as part of the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America program. The app provides a way for consumers to test the performance of their mobile and in-home broadband networks. In addition to showing network performance test results to the user, the app provides the test results to the FCC while protecting the privacy and confidentiality of program volunteers. The network coverage and performance information gathered from the Speed Test data will help inform the FCC’s efforts to collect more accurate and granular broadband deployment data. More information about the app is available on the FCC website. The FCC Speed Test App is available in the Google Play Store for Android devices, and in the Apple App Store for iOS devices.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 14, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Ambitious Infrastructure Efforts The Biden administration is continuing to assert that both the size and scope of its $2.25 trillion jobs plan -- as well as how to pay for it -- are up for negotiation, “setting the stage for what is likely to be months of congressional wrangling on one of the White House's chief legislative priorities,” the Washington Post reported. The paper says that a top GOP senator told President Biden on Monday that it would be "almost impossible" to win over Republicans if the plan envisions boosting the corporate tax rate, as it currently does. There is also widespread private skepticism among congressional Republicans that the White House is genuinely open to a cross-party agreement that might significantly scale back Biden's ambitions. But the president, as well as White House officials, insisted that his overtures at bipartisanship were earnest and that he would not have been spending hours meeting with Republicans otherwise. Monday's session, which a White House official said was the first of several the president Biden will host this month, marked the informal beginning of months of arm-twisting and vote haggling on Capitol Hill to line up support behind the administration's American Jobs Plan, a proposal that stretches beyond the traditional definitions of infrastructure. The plan forms the cornerstone of Biden's economic agenda and includes Democratic priorities that the White House hopes to enact before the 2022 midterms. Despite the president's stated appetite for bipartisanship, the infrastructure bill has received little interest from Republicans so far, particularly with Biden's proposal to finance it by raising taxes on corporations from the current 21% to 28%. Under former president Donald Trump, Republicans passed a bill cutting the corporate taxes from the then-rate of 35% to 21%, and few are willing to consider reversing that, even in part. "I view the 2017 tax bill as one of my signature achievements in my entire career," Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss, said. "It would be an almost impossible sell for the president to come to a bipartisan agreement that included the undoing of that signature." Biden gathered lawmakers including Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who chairs the Senate Commerce Committee and Wicker, her GOP counterpart. The panel plays a critical role in congressional debates on railroads and broadband Internet access, major elements of the Biden infrastructure plan. Reps. Garret Graves, R-La., and Donald Payne Jr. D-N.J. who also took part in the meeting, belong to a panel of House lawmakers considering legislation to fund and improve the nation's highways while implementing new programs to reduce carbon emissions. Other attendees at the meeting included Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Rep. David Price, D-N.C., and Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. Young is the currently the longest-serving member of the House, and Biden affectionately dubbed him the "dean." "The president made a compelling case for acting big and broadly when it comes to the definition of infrastructure," Padilla said. The freshman senator, who assumed Kamala Harris's Senate seat when she was elevated to the vice presidency, said Biden's message was that simply catching up on deferred maintenance on roads and bridges would be a significant lost opportunity. Padilla also made a case that the administration could consider not paying for parts of the infrastructure and jobs plan -- echoing the view of some other Democrats -- although other attendees and people briefed on the meeting said Biden didn't appear too keen on deficit financing. The president also opposed raising gasoline taxes to finance parts of the plan, the White House later confirmed, despite suggestions from some Republicans that he consider doing so. Speaking with reporters after the session, Payne said Republicans raised many issues "with parts of the bill," including the size of the package, its policy scope and the White House's preferred means of paying for it. "The president was much more flexible than I was," Payne added. "I believe that the American Jobs Plan is a once-in-a-lifetime generational opportunity for us to modernize our airports, our roadways, our rail stations and our water infrastructure, and it's long overdue." Wicker confirmed that he and other Republicans wanted to stick with what they have described as traditional infrastructure--such as ports, rails and roads. Young agreed that lawmakers have to be cognizant about the "very definition of infrastructure." He added that he told Biden the White House should reconsider implementing an increase in the gasoline tax. The president has insisted that his outreach to Republicans is genuine, given the broad political appeal of addressing the country's infrastructure needs. But the administration has also signaled that if negotiations drag on, Democrats may decide to act on their own, as they did in approving a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package in March. So, we will see. The administration's proposals appear to have considerable support, although there are major differences among key lawmakers. Certainly, these proposals are high stakes and should be watched closely as the debates continue, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 14, 2021 |


USDA Requests Comments On Extending Information Collection For Meat, Egg Product Recalls USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is requesting comments by June 14 on renewing its authority to collect information on voluntary recalls of meat, poultry, and egg products. FSIS can request firms recall meat, poultry, or egg products that have been imported or produced and are adulterated or misbranded. When making such requests, FSIS asks the recalling firm to provide basic information such as the “identity of the recalled product, the reason for the recall, and information about the distributors and retail consignees to whom the product was shipped.” Companies are required to keep this information under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act. FSIS said it has not changed its estimates on the burden of the data collection effort. The current authority to collect the information expires September 30, 2021. The request is non-controversial and the full expectation is the agency will put the extension in place before the current authority expires.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 14, 2021 |


USDA Sets April 30 Deadline For Processing QLA Applications The deadline for the Quality Loss Assistance (QLA) program was April 9, though producers in many areas across the country were unable to complete the process before that date. USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set a deadline of April 30 for QLA applications on a register to be finalized and for producers to submit all their supporting documentation. County FSA offices are currently undertaking Phase I reviews of the QLA applications (determine if information provided is reasonable and adjust applications as necessary). Those Phase I reviews are to be completed by May 14. USDA at the end of March set a deadline of April 16 for all Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP-Plus) applications to be finalized and approved for payment. Plus, FSA said it would work with the Risk Management Agency (RMA) to determine if WHIP, WHIP-Plus and QLA applicants have met the requirements for the purchase of crop insurance or Noninsured Assistance Program (NAP) coverage as a condition of receiving their payment.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 14, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets USDA has yet to announce a corn export sale in April and traders will be watching for one early Wednesday. The latest weather forecasts will also get attention. The U.S. Energy Department will have its weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. CDT, including last week's ethanol production. At 1 p.m. CDT, the Federal Reserve's Beige Book will describe recent economic activity. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store for the Delta and Deep South Wednesday, slowing field work and planting. Dry conditions will cover most other crop areas. A cold pattern with some freeze threat is spreading over northern and central areas and will hinder field work and early crop growth.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 13, 2021 |


CoBank: U.S. Economy Gaining Momentum The U.S. economy continues to outperform expectations as stimulus funds are fueling robust consumer spending. Forecasts point to seven percent GDP growth for 2021, the fastest rate of expansion since 1984, according to CoBank. The transition to a less COVID-restricted world has begun. But for the economy and rural industries, CoBank says there will be no going back to pre-COVID conditions. Researchers say the focus in Washington is shifting from crisis management to building for the future, and the outcomes will reshape rural economies. Meanwhile, CoBank reports the cyclical turn in grain pricing continued during the first quarter of 2021 and has picked up further gains ahead of spring planting. Farm supply retailers are positioned to benefit from an exceptionally strong spring agronomy season, outpacing fall and spring 2020. The U.S. fuel ethanol sector has recovered, with production running near 90 percent of pre-COVID levels. And chicken, beef and pork all see strong demand and profitability. However, dairy exports are struggling, mainly due to shipping-related issues. ************************************************************************************ Farm Credit System Reviews Current Ag Economy Record agricultural exports are contributing to favorable economic conditions for the U.S. farm sector. Exports to China have risen to record levels, with increases in soybeans, corn, wheat, and cotton. High crop prices and strong producer margins are expected to bring more acreage into production, but continuing drought in much of the western United States is a concern. The Farm Credit Administration says farm sector income is expected to remain above average in 2021. Stronger market prices and receipts are expected to mostly offset the decline in government payments. Strong farmland values, especially in the Midwest, reflect current income prospects, increased interest from both farmers and investors, and low interest rates. The data was presented to the Farm Credit System last week. Despite the pandemic's shock to the U.S. economy and agriculture, the system remained safe and financially sound in 2020. The system reported strong results for the year, including robust loan growth driven by real estate lending, higher earnings, and increased capital. ************************************************************************************ Brazil Lowering Biodiesel Blend from B13 to B10 Brazil last week announced it will lower the percentage of vegetable oil blended into petroleum diesel. Brazil will reduce the blend from 13 percent, or B13, to ten percent, or B10. Brazil's government claims the change is the result of the high cost of biodiesel, citing the elevated price of domestic soybeans and soybean oil. Michael Cordonnier of Soybean and Corn Advisor Inc. writes, “The industry feels this will throw the biodiesel sector into disarray because they had already made the investments needed to increase the blend percentage to 15 percent by the year 2023, which was the stated goal of the government.” Biofuel proponents in Brazil criticized the action and asked it to be rescinded. Industry experts in Brazil estimate the announcement will reduce the use of soybean oil by 650,000 tons per year, and soybean crushing would decline by 3.25 million tons per year. Brazil has previously lowered biodiesel blends citing an insufficient supply of soybeans. ************************************************************************************ Average Hurricane Season to Feature More Storms The average hurricane season will feature more predicted storms, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Beginning with this year’s hurricane season outlooks, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center will use 1991-2020 as the new 30-year period of record. The updated averages for the Atlantic hurricane season have increased with 14 named storms and seven hurricanes. The average for major hurricanes, Category 3, 4 or 5, remains unchanged at three. The previous Atlantic storm averages, based on the period from 1981 to 2010, were 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. NOAA is updating the set of statistics used to determine when hurricane seasons are above-, near-, or below-average relative to the climate record. This update process occurs once every decade. The increase in the averages may be attributed to the overall improvement in observing platforms, including NOAA’s fleet of next-generation environmental satellites and continued hurricane reconnaissance. NOAA says it may also be due to the warming ocean and atmosphere, which are influenced by climate change. ************************************************************************************ Tyson Foods Unveils $425 Million Poultry Facility in Tennessee Tyson Foods last week opened the company’s new poultry complex in Humboldt, Tennessee. The $425 million project, which includes a processing plant, feed mill and hatchery, represents Tyson’s biggest investment in Tennessee. Several hundred workers have been hired so far and are being trained for the start of production later this month. The processing plant, which is expected to employ more than 1,500 people by 2023, will produce pre-packaged trays of fresh chicken for retail grocery stores nationwide beginning in late April. The payroll and payments to farmers from the new operation, along with the purchase of grain and utilities, is expected to generate an annual economic benefit to Tennessee of $150 million. The company’s Humboldt feed mill, which will supply feed for approximately 56 local poultry farmers, will employ 30 people and produce 14,000 tons of finished feed a week when production reaches full capacity. The Humboldt hatchery employs 30 workers and provides chicks for local poultry farmers who supply broiler chickens to Tyson. ************************************************************************************ Gas, Diesel Prices, Decline Slightly For the fourth straight week, the national average price of gasoline has dropped, declining 2.1 cents to $2.85 per gallon. The national average now stands 0.5 cents lower than a month ago and $1.02 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has fallen 1.1 cents in the last week and stands at $3.07 per gallon. Gas Buddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “It has been a fairly tame last few weeks at the pump for most areas after a particularly active February and March when prices were screaming higher.” De Haan adds, for now, the risk of seeing the national average climb to $3 per gallon has been delayed by a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, limiting the upside to gasoline demand. However, as the outlook improves, we still have potential to see summer gas prices at their highest levels in years. U.S. gasoline demand fell for the first time in seven weeks after a healthy Easter travel holiday boosted demand, down just shy of one percent.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 13, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Battle Over Administration Proposals Congress returns this week and the House and Senate Leadership are moving forward to begin to enact the President's long-term economic strategies built around massive infrastructure and manufacturing investments, Bloomberg is reporting this week. After first enacting a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 recovery plan without Republican support, the Biden administration says it continues to hope to strike deals with the GOP in order to advance a multi-part plan that could total more than $3 trillion. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., also is pushing for action this spring and summer on President Joe Biden's noneconomic domestic priorities that the House has already passed, including ambitious changes to federal laws on voting, civil rights, health care, and gun ownership rules -- among others. In the House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is planning votes on legislation on worker protections and immigration. At the same time, Democrats say they are weighing different strategies to push the president's agenda, including use of budget rules to enact bills with simple majorities -- and possibly upending the long-standing Senate filibuster rule that requires 60 votes to pass most bills. But bipartisan deals still could be in the offing, as Biden seeks at least 10 Republicans to join Democrats in the evenly split 50-50 Senate, Bloomberg thinks. President Biden says he wants to boost the American economy and facilitate competition with China using his $2.25 trillion infrastructure and public works package. The investments included would include a “wide variety of projects,” from traditional spending on roads and bridges, to funds aimed at improving care for the elderly and people with disabilities. However, Bloomberg thinks that GOP opposition could drive Democrats to turn to budget reconciliation once again to sidestep a potential filibuster, which would require a supermajority of 60 senators to break. The plan includes about $620 billion for transportation and resilience; $580 billion for workforce development, research, and manufacturing; $400 billion for elder and disability care; and $650 billion for initiatives aimed at better quality of life at home, including lead-free pipes, broadband, and housing. The President is intensifying his links both Republican and Democratic members of Congress through numerous meetings on political support for a broad range of proposals. In addition, a consortium of chief executive officers and other leaders of major U.S. corporations held an hour-long Zoom call on Saturday to discuss ways to push for greater voting access amid new restrictions enacted or pending in Georgia, Texas and other states. Among the options being considered are re-evaluations of donations to candidates supporting restrictions on voter access and reconsidering investments in states that act upon such proposals, according to the non-profit Coalition for Inclusive Capitalism, which co-hosted the meeting with Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a Yale School of Management professor, and the Leadership Now Project. In addition, tensions within Biden's Democratic leadership have intensified, Bloomberg says. For example, leading progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., had a choice after they won election in 2018 and expanded their ranks in 2020: challenge Democratic leaders from the sidelines, or “get in the game.” Now Bloomberg says their decision to play by Congress' rules is giving them enhanced clout in a government under unified control of the new administration. The report notes that members of Ocasio-Cortez's so-called Squad are taking leadership roles in the House and building experience on Capitol Hill, turning them into not just ideological purists but also strategic legislators working toward more liberal dreams like a $15 federal minimum wage and a permanent child tax credit within reach. In the meantime, President Biden created a 36-member bipartisan commission to study potential changes to the U.S. Supreme Court, fulfilling a promise he made on the campaign trail. The Presidential Commission will look at “the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform,” the White House said on Friday. The departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Education, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency would all get budget hikes under Biden's $1.5 trillion discretionary spending request to Congress on Friday. The administration says it intends to make racial equity one of its top priorities and said it will have officials embedded across all federal agencies. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell reported last week that the U.S. economy was at an “inflection point” with stronger growth and hiring ahead thanks to rising vaccinations and powerful policy support -- but that COVID-19 remains a threat. “We feel like we're at a place where the economy is about to start growing much more quickly and job creation coming in much more quickly,” Powell told CBS on Wednesday. Reports indicate that highlights a trend in which vaccination requirements are fast becoming facts of life in the U.S. as additional universities and many other institutions implement new requirements. It notes that Brown, Notre Dame, and Rutgers are among universities warning students and staff they'll need shots in order to return to campus this fall. Some sports teams are demanding proof of vaccination or a negative test from fans as arenas reopen. A Houston hospital chain recently ordered its 26,000 employees to get vaccinated; moves that imply new controversies for the future. So, we will see. These are trends producers should watch closely as highly controversial debates continue to emerge -- and as anti-COVID efforts intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 13, 2021 |


US-Mexico Potato Trade Situation Still Percolating With Postponement Of Action By Mexican Supreme Court The National Potato Council (NPC) said the Mexican Supreme Court's decision last week to postpone action on cases that would allow full importation of fresh U.S. potatoes appears rooted in political interference by the Mexico potato industry. NPC said the Mexican news outlet Reforma reported that CONPAPA, a group representing Mexico's potato producers, asked the president to direct the head of the Ministry of Agriculture to withdraw its appeal in the lawsuits, which would end the legal process. “Given that the cartel Wednesday morning requested that the government drop these cases, and immediately after the court again delayed their decision, it is reasonable to assume that the legal process in Mexico is impaired by politics,” NPC CEO Kam Quarles said. “Therefore, in order to enforce our rights, it appears the USMCA [U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement] is the best option. Once we successfully prove our case there, it will allow the U.S. to attach retaliatory tariffs to Mexican agricultural products such as avocados until they provide the access we are due.” The matter is one of the early friction points between the U.S. and Mexico under USMCA, with NPC and lawmakers pushing for action on the situation from the Biden administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 13, 2021 |


Sen. Thune Expects CFAP, WHIP-Plus Payments 'Soon' Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said last week that the next round of Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) payments should be coming soon. Getting the payments restarted that were put on hold by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is a “top priority” for him, Thune said. As for the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP-Plus), Thune noted that with the signup deadline April 9, that should mean payments will start to flow. Once the total cost is known, that will determine if more money will be added. He also said that when 2019-crop payments are finished, that's when they'll figure out if there will be a WHIP+ for 2020-crop.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 13, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will release the consumer price index for March at 7:30 a.m. CDT, the only official report of the day. Traders will keep a close watch on the latest weather forecasts and on any export sales news that emerges. Weather Periods of snow will continue in the far northern Plains Tuesday. Moisture from the snow offers slight relief from extreme drought. We'll also see scattered rain showers in the western and southern Plains and southern Midwest which will disrupt spring field work. Temperatures are on a notable cooling trend throughout the central U.S. this week, slowing planting and crop development.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 12, 2021 |


February Red Meat Exports Trail 2020; Outlook Still Strong in 2021 U.S. beef and pork exports in February remained behind the rapid pace set in early 2020. However, USDA data compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation shows exports were consistent with USMEF’s February projections. The federation still expects 2021 beef exports to increase substantially year-over-year, while pork exports are projected should narrowly surpass the 2020 record. Beef exports totaled 103,493 metric tons in February, down eight percent from a year ago and valued at $669.5 million. Through February, beef exports trailed last year’s pace by five percent at 208,540 metric tons. Beef exports to South Korea are off to a strong start in 2021, and demand for U.S. beef continues to grow in China. February pork exports were down 12 percent compared to last year at 239,240 metric tons, valued at $629.4 million. Through February, pork exports were 11 percent lower than last year’s pace. Pork exports set new records in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. February exports of U.S. lamb, helped by larger variety meat shipments to Mexico, Canada, and Hong Kong, increased 142 percent from last year to 1,152 metric tons, with the value up 19 percent to $1.6 million. ********************************************************************************************** International Trade Commission Hears Testimony on Cucumbers, Squash The U.S. International Trade Commission hosted an all-day virtual hearing last week on its investigation into unfair trade practices by foreign exporters on cucumber and squash imports. The Packer Dot Com says the ITC expects to send the results of its investigation to the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office no later than December 7 of this year. Florida Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried (Freed) testified at the hearing and talked about the injury to Florida’s $90.9 million cucumber and $35.4 million squash industries caused by imports. Since 2015, Fried says a surge in imports of fresh and chilled cucumbers and squash, predominantly from Mexico, has caused an estimated loss of 2,721 jobs, lost cash receipts worth $944 million, and $1.85 billion in a negative impact on Florida’s domestic produce growers. “I hope that you will employ all the tools at your disposal to provide equity and fairness for American farmers,” Fried says. Lace Jungmeier, President of the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, says labor shortages, rather than damage from imports, are what’s hurting U.S. growers. He also says Mexico isn’t to blame because of severe weather that’s caused damage to Florida producers. ********************************************************************************************** Biden Budget Proposals Invest Money in Rural Communities The Biden Administration submitted the president’s budget priorities for discretionary spending during the fiscal year 2022. The funding request advances key USDA priorities like economic development and growth in rural America, supporting American agriculture, aiding in the approach to mitigating climate change, and supporting a strong safety net to address hunger and food insecurity. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “The President’s budget provides the resources to build back better, stronger, and more resilient and equitably than ever before.” The president’s discretionary request provides an increase of $65 million over the 2021 enacted level for the Rural e-Connectivity Program “Reconnect,” which provides grants and loans to deploy broadband in underserved areas. Biden’s request also provides $4 billion above the 2021 enacted level for USDA’s research, education, and outreach programs. The request also asks for almost $1.7 billion for high-priority hazardous fuels and forest resilience projects to combat the growing threat of wildfires. The 2022 discretionary request also provides $6.7 billion for critical nutrition programs like the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, And Children, or WIC (wick). ********************************************************************************************** April WASDE Shows Lower Corn and Higher Wheat Ending Stocks The April World Ag Supply and Demand Estimate report from USDA calls for lower corn and higher wheat stocks in the U.S. at the end of the marketing year. The outlook for wheat calls for lower supplies, reduced domestic use, unchanged exports, and higher ending stocks. Wheat supplies are lowered to 110 million bushels because of lower-than-expected imports, while feed and residual use were lowered by 25 million bushels. Projected ending stocks were raised to 852 million bushels but are still 17 percent lower than last year. The season-average farm price is unchanged at $5 per bushel. The corn outlook calls for greater feed and residual use, increased corn use for ethanol, larger exports, and lower ending stocks. Exports increased by 75 million bushels, based on the March export inspection data that hit the highest total set since November of 1989. The season-average farm price is unchanged at $4.30 a bushel. Supply and use changes for soybeans include higher exports, lower crush, residual use, and seed use. Soybean ending stocks are predicted to be 120 million bushels, unchanged from the previous forecast. The season-average soybean price is up 10 cents to $11.25 per bushel. *********************************************************************************************** Export Sales of Wheat, Soybeans Hit Marketing-Year Low Points The USDA says export sales of soybeans and wheat dropped to marketing-year lows in the seven days ending on April 1, while corn sales were down slightly during the same period. Soybean sales to overseas buyers in the 2020-2021 marketing year that ends on August 31 registered a net loss of 92,500 metric tons after a large cancellation occurred. Egypt was the biggest buyer at 66,200 metric tons, while Japan took in just shy of 41,000. China canceled shipments totaling more than 216,000 metric tons, resulting in a net loss for the week. Soybean sales for delivery in the next marketing year that starts on September 1 totaled 338,600 tons as China bought 264,000 tons from U.S. inventories. Wheat sales finished the week at 82,000 metric tons, also the lowest point of the marketing year. That’s 67 percent lower than the previous week and down 75 percent from the four-week average. Corn sales last week hit 757,000 metric tons, a five percent drop from the previous week and 54 percent lower than the prior four-week average. Japan was the top corn buyer by bringing in 285,300 metric tons. ********************************************************************************************** Consumers Feel Agriculture Can Positively Impact Climate Change American consumers feel agriculture can be part of the solution to climate change rather than the problem. A new Cargill Feed4Thought Survey says those who indicated climate change is important to them also rate livestock and agriculture lowest in negative impact compared to the other industries regarded as significant contributors. Over one-third of the respondents expressed confidence in the industry’s ability to limit its contributions to climate change. “Farmers are critical to feeding the world sustainably and responsibly,” says Ruth Kimmelshue, chief of Cargill’s animal nutrition and health business. “With a growing population and rising consumer interest in climate change, they are also part of the solution to address some of the toughest environmental challenges.” Survey responses came from consumers in the U.S., France, South Korea, and Brazil. Participants say transportation and deforestation were ranked as the greatest contributors to climate change. Fifty-nine percent of respondents say that federal and national governments bear the highest responsibility for addressing climate change. Fifty-seven percent said companies involved in beef production, and 50 percent say cattle farmers are responsible for reducing the impact of livestock. “Sustainability in our food systems starts with the dedication of farmers,” Cargill says in a news release.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 12, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Biden Administration's First Budget Request President Joe Biden's budget proposal on Friday kicked off what's likely to be a long, drawn-out fight in Congress over how to fund the federal government, the Hill said this weekend. The request calls for annual discretionary spending of $1.52 trillion. That includes a 15.7% increase in domestic spending and a 1.7% boost in defense. Although the plan contained no detail on taxes or mandatory spending programs, as well as the usual 10-year projection for spending and revenues, it nonetheless offers valuable insights into Biden's priorities, the Hill said. The proposal “affirmed” the administration's embrace of government spending and follows recent big proposals with a “subsequent measures focused on highly visible issues like child care and college tuition.” The request, up $118 billion from current levels, is 25% higher than discretionary spending was at the end of the Obama administration. The administration is making the argument that the pendulum has swung too far toward austerity over the years, resulting in a lack of resources that “exacerbated inequality, left the country's infrastructure in disrepair, created educational stagnation and allowed social ills to fester.” White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted that “we are inheriting a legacy of chronic underinvestment, in our view, in priorities that are vital to our long-term success and our ability to confront the challenges before us, so the president is focused on reversing this trend and reinvesting in the foundations of our strength.” The Hill said the proposal highlighted the fact that the defense budget is still a “sacred cow.” Budget watchers had expected Biden to keep defense spending flat – and progressives sought a 10% cut – but the proposal surprised both by calling for increases in Pentagon spending. It would add $12.3 billion to defense, a 1.7% increase, which in a typical year would just keep pace with inflation. At a total of $753 billion, it leaves in place significant increases to defense spending that former President Trump set in motion. But even the unexpected increase was not enough for some. A joint statement by top Republicans, including those on defense and budget committees in the Senate, characterized the 1.7% increase as a virtual cut and accused Biden of ceding ground to China and Russia – and sending a terrible signal not only to our adversaries in Beijing and Moscow, but also to our allies and partners.” In one important way, the administration's budget proposal matched the one Trump put out during his first months in office: it was more emaciated than skinny due to its limited details. Like Trump, Biden only released a very limited set of specifics and sidestepped questions about the long-term budget effects. The White House said a full proposal is due later this spring. Only then will it become clear how the administration intends to pay for the new spending, whether there is a plan to lower the deficit and how it intends to deal with mandatory programs. That spending, which includes programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and a slew of anti-poverty programs such as nutritional assistance, accounts for about two-thirds of annual government spending. They are far more significant drivers of spending and deficits than the discretionary side of the ledger this proposal covered. “We can't truly evaluate the president's agenda until we know how he'll address the other two-thirds of the budget and what he will do on the other side of the ledger with taxes,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “We hope the full budget plan will include policies to not only offset new spending, but secure the trust funds and improve the country's long-term fiscal path,” MacGuineas said. But even the focus on spending without discussion of taxes, deficits or the country's fiscal outlook is a reminder that the issue of debt may have lost some of its political sway over both politicians and voters. Whereas President Trump famously promised to put “America First” in his policy agenda, Biden's budget request of $63.5 billion for the State Department and international programs, a 12% increase over current levels, reflects his view that some of the biggest problems the country faces require global cooperation, The Hill said. He plans to quadruple the funding for international climate programs and is requesting a four-year commitment of $4 billion to stabilize Central America, home to many of the migrants arriving at the southern border. He also would boost the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget to $8.7 billion, from $7.9 billion, with a focus on international preparedness to help tackle future pandemics. The budget would fully fund U.S. commitments to United Nations peacekeeping, including payments missed under the Trump administration. International programs at the Treasury Department would get a 73% boost, just as Secretary Janet Yellen is calling for a summer agreement on a global minimum tax to clamp down on tax avoidance by multinational corporations. The Hill notes that while presidential budget requests shape the debate around annual spending, Congress usually has its own ideas--and that those matter most since lawmakers have the power of the purse. So, we will see. The new administration's proposal suggests that it intends to work for significant changes, shifts that producers should watch closely as the new and modified policies are debated and implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 12, 2021 |


Senate Approach To Counter China Is Taking Shape A bipartisan bill was introduced directing the U.S. government to adopt a policy of “strategic competition” with China to “protect and promote our vital interests and values.” The 283-page bill crafted by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is part of a push by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to vote this spring on a broad, bipartisan package designed to confront China's economic and geopolitical power. The measure seeks infrastructure investment and technology developments to compete with China on global supply chains, science and technology. Besides the legislation introduced yesterday, the centerpiece of Schumer's broader plan is the Endless Frontier Act, a bill to boost U.S. semiconductor development. The Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing on that proposal on April 14. The Foreign Relations panel is scheduled to act on its bill the same day.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 12, 2021 |


Manchin Won't Support Ending, Modifying Filibuster Democratic hopes that they could convince Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to back modifying or ending the filibuster have again had their hopes dashed as the key senator last week again said he will not back such changes. "There is no circumstance in which I will vote to eliminate or weaken the filibuster," Manchin wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Wednesday night. He described the stand as sticking up for small and rural states and said that only through compromise between Republicans and Democrats would the Washington paralysis end. The means Democrats and the Biden White House will have to compromise to get the 60 votes they need on must-pass bills not tied to reconciliation.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 12, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will start the new week poring over the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if there are any new export sales announced. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m., followed by a budget report for March from the U.S. Treasury at 1 p.m. USDA's Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. will have planting progress information and an update of winter wheat conditions. Weather Rain and snow are in store for the northern Plains and northern Midwest Monday, offering some easing of extreme drought conditions. Other crop areas will be mainly dry. Portions of the southern Plains and southern Midwest have light precipitation in store Monday evening.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 9, 2021 |


World Food Price Index Rises for Tenth-Straight Month World food prices rose for the tenth-consecutive month in March, rising to their highest level since June of 2014. Reuters says the climb got sparked by costs rising in the vegetable oils, meat, and dairy indices. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index measures monthly changes for a basket of cereals, oilseeds, dairy products, meat, and sugar. The index averaged 118.5 points in March, compared to 116.1 in February. The FAO says worldwide cereal harvests are on course to hit an annual record in 2020, with early indications for 2021 pointing to another production increase. The vegetable oil price index jumped eight percent to its highest level since 2011. Dairy prices also climbed for the tenth straight month, rising almost four percent and driven by a surge of imports in Asia. The meat index rose 2.3 percent but was still slightly down on a year-to-year basis. Poultry and pig prices increased in part because of the fast pace of imports in Asian countries, mainly China. Sugar prices dropped four percent month on month but were still 30 percent higher during the year. The drop in March was driven by prospects of large sugar exports from India. ********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Production Hits Highest Point Since December Ethanol output jumped to its highest level in more than three months while inventories dropped again. The Energy Information Administration report says production rose to 975,000 barrels a day, on average, in the week ending on April 2. That production level rose from 965,000 barrels a day the week before and was the highest output level since the week that ended on December 18. The Midwest, by far the highest producing region in the U.S., saw production rise to an average of 929,000 barrels a day. Government data showed that was up from 917,000 barrels a day the previous week and was the largest output since mid-December of last year. East Coast production was unchanged at 12,000 barrels a day, and both the Rocky Mountain and West Coast output remained steady at 9,000 barrels a day. The Gulf Coast region was the only area that dropped production, falling to 16,000 barrels a day from 18,000 the previous week. Ethanol inventories dropped to their lowest level in four months. Biofuel stockpiles fell to 20.642 million barrels in the seven days ending on April 2, the lowest level since November 13. ********************************************************************************************** Petition Asks EPA to Regulate Large Livestock Farms Two dozen environmental and consumer groups are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate large dairy and hog farms under federal air pollution laws. Groups like the Sierra Club and the Government Accountability Project say in their petition that “The EPA has the duty and authority to regulate these methane super-emitters under the Clean Air Act as part of the administration’s larger strategy to prevent catastrophic and irreversible climate change.” A Successful Farming article says the petition points out that the EPA could use the same section of the Clean Air Act to set air pollution limits on industrial hog and dairy farms that it used to propose carbon emission limits on power plants. The petition calls for regulations on operations with at least 500 cows or 1,000 hogs in place without access to pasture. The groups say in their petition that large farms account for 13 percent of all U.S. methane emissions. “Proven, pasture-based farming with reduced, sustainable herd sizes will help restore rural communities, help stabilize the climate, and provide environmental justice,” the petition states. ********************************************************************************************** Coalition Asks for Increased Conservation Funding Seventy of the top agriculture, conservation, and wildlife groups delivered a letter to Congress last week asking for robust funding for conservation programs and technical assistance for the fiscal year 2022. In the letter, groups like the American Farmland Trust, the National Association of Conservation Districts, and many others called on House and Senate appropriators to provide necessary robust increases to discretionary USDA conservation funding and reject any cuts to farm bill conservation programs through the FY 2022 appropriations process. The coalition says, “As Congress and the USDA continue to increase focus on climate change and the opportunities that agriculture and forestry can provide to sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and build resilience, funding for conservation support is more important now than ever.” The letter asks lawmakers to maintain full funding for conservation programs mandated by the 2018 Farm Bill. They also want appropriators to provide at least $1.2 billion in discretionary funding for Conservation Operations, including $1.1 billion for Conservation Technical Assistance. This money facilitates Natural Resources Conservation Service operations outside the mandatory farm bill programs. “Technical assistance is essential for the delivery of conservation support for farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners across the country by providing capacity and conservation planning to support implementation,” the letter says. ************************************************************************************ Farmers, Biofuel Producers Not Sold on Electric Cars Both President Biden and the U.S. auto industry say the nation is headed to a giant shift from liquid-fueled cars to electric vehicles. However, the Associated Press says biofuel producers, farmers, and their congressional supporters don’t agree. They say now is the right time to increase sales of ethanol and biodiesel, not set them aside. Biden’s infrastructure proposal includes billions of dollars to pay for 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, while General Motors set a goal of shifting its entire production to electric vehicles by 2035. But any shift to electric cars will be gradual, so ethanol and biodiesel producers say biofuels will be needed for the foreseeable future. Biofuel supporters cite a recent study from Harvard and Tuft Universities that found ethanol emits 46 percent less carbon than gasoline, which they say makes it imperative for the climate that the nation prioritize increasing its biofuel production. In the effort to cut carbon emissions, Geoff Cooper of the Renewable Fuels Association calls ethanol the “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to slowing global climate change. He supports an immediate change from gasoline blended with 10 percent ethanol up to a 15 percent blend. ********************************************************************************************** Plant-Based Retail Food Sales Grow 27 Percent New data from the Plant-Based Foods Association and The Good Food Institute shows U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods continued double-digit increases in 2020, rising 27 percent. That brought the total plant-based market value to $7 billion. The plant-based food market grew almost twice as fast as the total U.S. retail food market, which increased 15 percent as COVID-19 closed restaurants and consumers stocked up at the grocery store. Of the total households in the U.S., 57 percent say they purchase plant-based foods, up from 53 percent in 2019. The value of plant-based meat, which is the second-largest plant-based category, hit $1.4 billion in 2020. Sales grew by 45 percent, up from $962 million in 2019. The plant-based meat category grew twice as fast as conventional meat and now accounts for 2.7 percent of retail packaged meat sales. Eighteen percent of American households now buy plant-based meat, up from 14 percent in 2019. Plant-based milk, the largest plant-based category, reached $2.5 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 9, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Leafy Green Warning Food Safety News is reporting this week that the Food and Drug Administration has aimed an “unmistakable warning shot at the leafy greens industry.” FSN says the actual warning came in a column from Mike Taylor who co-chairs the board of the non-profit group “Stop Foodborne Illness” that represents foodborne illness victims and their families in efforts to keep people from getting sick. Taylor has a long history with the industry. He served as FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine from 2010 to mid-2016 and later worked for USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, where he was acting under secretary for safety. FSN reminds that Taylor was the official who, after the deadly 1992-93 Jack in the Box hamburger outbreak, ruled that the pathogen E. coli O157:H7 “is an adulterant in meat.” Taylor says that he hopes the recent FDA warning will serve as a call to urgent action that gets to the root of the problem of the persistent dangerous E. coli in the growing environment for leafy greens and other fresh produce. He says the warning cited the recurring nature of the E. coli hazard in the Salinas and Santa Maria growing areas and declared the recurring strain implicated in the 2020 outbreak to be a “reasonably foreseeable hazard,” which it attributed to the presence of cattle on land adjacent to growing fields. This finding seems obvious and shouldn't be surprising, Taylor thinks, but noted that the surprise is that FDA used regulatory language to spell out implications: farms covered by the current produce safety rules “are required” to implement science and risk-based preventive measures to minimize the risk of serious illness or death from the E. coli hazard. Make no mistake, he says, FDA's message is aimed not only at farms but at every entity involved in the commercial production, processing and sale of leafy greens coming from the California Central Coast Growing Region. The message is that, without effective preventive measures, important quantities of leafy greens will be in persistent violation of federal food safety regulatory standards. He does not anticipate FDA taking extensive judicial action to enforce its April 6 finding, absent egregious practices or clear negligence in a particular leafy green growing situation. He does see, however, a heightened sense of urgency at FDA and frustration that efforts to date have not solved the leafy greens safety problem. He shares that frustration, he says. Fifteen years ago, the disastrous spinach outbreak caused by E. coli O157:H7 was linked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to run-off from nearby grazing land, he recalls. “Since then, we've had outbreak after outbreak associated with E. coli in leafy greens and other fresh produce. And the outbreaks are just the tip of the public health iceberg. The federal government estimates that 60% of all food-related E. coli O157:H7 illnesses are associated with fresh produce. The vast majority of these illnesses are not part of an identified outbreak,” he concludes. Recent E. coli outbreaks and illnesses persist despite a lot of hard work by a lot of people in the leafy greens industry, researchers, the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the FDA and its federal partners, Taylor says. He mentions groups he works with and says he knows “serious people are at work on the problem.” Then he asks what actions does public health demand? At one level, the answer to these questions are the same he says--the leafy greens industry and all those across the leafy greens supply chain and in government should be doing everything they can to minimize the “now well-known risk posed by E. coli O157:H7.” Certainly, this includes preventative measures within the leafy greens production system, such as strict implementation of rigorous water quality and irrigation standards, improved compost management, sanitation of harvesting equipment, and pre-harvest test-and-hold programs. He also thinks that modern food safety best practices dictate that prevention should begin at the root of the problem -- and that as long as leafy greens are grown outdoors in the vicinity of cattle operations, the food safety problem will persist. However, he notes that effective vaccines are available. Changed feeding practices have promise. Perhaps containment measures can reduce risk. He adds that it is clear that “no responsible food manufacturer would today deem it acceptable to produce food in an environment in which dangerous bacteria are being released or are present on a sustained basis. The same principle should apply to leafy greens and other fresh produce grown outdoors.” However, he notes that neither greens producers or cattle producers can exert “the necessary direct control over the source of the hazard, in many cases.” That is why FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas calls for “industry leadership and collaboration among growers, processors, retailers, state partners and the broader agricultural community,” including cattle producers, Taylor argues. He says he is “glad” the alarm has been sounded and that even though the kind of leadership needed is difficult in a “notoriously fragmented” sector, he thinks too much is at stake for all concerned to let such obstacles stand in the way. He says “now is the time for leaders from all across the commercial value chain and government to act together, with greater urgency, to get to the root of the problem.” So, we will see. Clearly FSN and Taylor have strong voices throughout the industry and their ideas can be expected to attract attention. Whether or not this will be adequate to control this growing safety problem remains to be seen and should be watched closely by producers in the months ahead, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 9, 2021 |


Groups Call On EPA To Regulate Large Hog, Dairy Operations Several environmental and other groups have petitioned EPA to use the same authority under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to regulate power plants to regulate large dairy and hog farms. They said the agency should regulate those operations with more than 500 dairy cattle and more than 1,000 hogs without access to pasture as major sources of the greenhouse gas (GHG) methane. They also called on EPA to reject classifying methane captured from such operations as “biogas,” calling burning of methane collected from such operations as a “false solution” relative to climate change. EPA said it would respond to the petition. If it were to actively pursue regulations requested by the groups, it would entail a process that could take up to two years before any actions would be taken. And, there would have to be a public comment period as the rules/regulations were being developed.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 9, 2021 |


US Pork Producers Welcome Philippines' Actions to Boost Pork Imports The Philippines Pork import tariffs will be reduced and a quota for those imports will increase as the country seeks to address a shortfall in pork supplies caused by a sharp reduction in the countries hog herd due to African Swine Fever (ASF). The order signed by President Rodrigo Duterte would see tariffs cut to 5% for three months from a current 30%, and it would rise to 10% during months four through 12. The tariffs would apply to imports under a quota of 404,210 metric tons -- a rise of 350,000 metric tons from a prior import quota of 54,210 metric tons. For imports over the quota level, tariffs would drop from a current 40% to 15% for the first three months of the action and would rise to 20% for the remainder of the 12-month period covered by the order. The National Pork Producers Association (NPPC) welcomed the move, noting it came after a meeting between the group and the Philippines ambassador to the U.S. “NPPC has been pressing both the U.S. and Philippines governments to lower pork import tariffs since ASF outbreaks began in the Philippines,” the group said in a release. “Since 2019, the Philippines has been battling African swine fever (ASF), and as a result, domestic production has declined, supplies have tightened, and pork prices have spiked,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “While we are saddened by the spread of ASF in the Philippines, we appreciate the opportunity to send more high-quality U.S. pork to ease the shortage and the spike in prices.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 9, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will release the producer price index for March at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday. At 11 a.m., USDA will post the April WASDE report with updated estimates of U.S. grain supplies and South American corn and soybean crops. Traders will continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales. Weather Friday brings scattered thunderstorms to the northern Plains and northern Midwest. Precipitation will be light and accompanied by strong winds, leading to high fire threat in drought areas. Dry and windy conditions also lead to high fire threat in the southwestern Plains. One other area of precipitation extends from the southeastern Plains to the Gulf Coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 8, 2021 |


Animal Welfare and Environmental Groups Want GE Animal Regulations to Stay at FDA This week, thirteen animal welfare and environmental groups urged federal agencies to maintain regulatory authority over genetically engineered food animals within the Food and Drug Administration. The request is in response to the Trump-era proposal to move the regulatory authority to the Department of Agriculture. Specifically, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would oversee regulatory authority over genetically engineered animals. In letters to the FDA and USDA, the groups claim, “FDA possesses the scientific and administrative capacities to regulate these animals better than USDA.” The groups contend, “Genetically engineered animals are a significant new threat to our food system.” Dana Perls of Friends of the Earth says, "Handing authority over to the USDA will dilute the already-weak GMO animal regulations." The thirteen groups signing the letters to the Biden administration include the Center for Food Safety, the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Friends of the Earth and the National Family Farm Coalition, among others. ************************************************************************************ ASA/AFBF: Stepping on Stepped-up Basis Has Big Consequences Any change in capital gains tax policy that eliminates or scales back stepped-up basis could result in a massive tax burden on the agricultural sector. A new analysis by the American Soybean Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation confirmed the findings. To minimize the impact of burdensome capital gains taxes, farmers and ranchers use stepped-up basis, which provides a reset for the asset value basis during intergenerational transfers. The magnitude of the tax burden that would be felt if basis is taken away or reduced would likely significantly exceed the annual income generated by the assets, something that has American farmers concerned. ASA President Kevin Scott says, “What people may not realize is that it could take years of returns to equal the amount of the tax if stepped-up basis is reduced, or worse, eliminated.” AFBF President Zippy Duvall adds, “Eliminating stepped-up basis would make passing the family farm to the next generation much more difficult.” ************************************************************************************ NCBA Welcomes Preserving Family Farms Act House lawmakers recently introduced the Preserving Family Farms Act of 2021, a priority for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. NCBA has long supported efforts to reduce tax burdens on farmers and ranchers. This bipartisan legislation to expand IRS Code Section 2032A would allow cattle producers to take advantage of the Special Use Valuation and protect family-owned businesses from the impact of the federal estate tax, commonly referred to as the Death Tax. The Preserving Family Farms Act increases the maximum amount allowed under the exemption from $750,000 to $11 million, indexed for inflation, thus reviving an important tool in the toolbox for farm and ranch families across the U.S., according to NCBA. If enacted, the legislation will provide a permanent solution to an issue that has long plagued cattle producers. While the current 2032A reduction is 55 percent higher than the value established two decades ago, USDA estimates that cropland values have increased by 223 percent. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Applauds the Philippines’ Decision to Import More Pork The Philippine government will provide more market access for pork imports to combat rising pork prices and stabilize supplies. Securing better access to the Philippines market has been a top, long-term priority for the National Pork Producers Council. NPPC President Jen Sorensen says, “While we are saddened by the spread of ASF in the Philippines, we appreciate the opportunity to send more high-quality U.S. pork to ease the shortage and the spike in prices.” Under the announcement, tariffs for imported pork under the increased minimum access volume of 404,210 metric tons would be reduced from 30 percent to five percent for the next three months, and then ten percent thereafter. The announcement comes on the heels of NPPC’s meeting with the Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. NPPC has been pressing both the U.S. and Philippines governments to lower pork import tariffs since African swine fever outbreaks began in the Philippines. NPPC says the expanded market access is expected to generate significantly more U.S. pork exports to the country. ************************************************************************************ 2020/21 Sorghum Quality Report Released by U.S. Grains Council The U.S. Grains Council has published its 2020/2021 Sorghum Quality Report, and for the second year in a row, U.S. sorghum was, on average, graded above necessary requirements for the U.S. No. 1 designation. Protein content in sorghum was up eight percent year over year, with readings coming in at 11.2 percent, almost a full percentage point jump above last year’s content. Reece Cannady, USGC manager of global trade, says, “Protein content in sorghum is really what can set it apart from other coarse grains.” The report, funded through the Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service Agricultural Trade Promotion program, provides international customers accurate, unbiased information about the 2020 U.S. sorghum crop. To generate the report’s findings, samples were collected from 13 participating elevators located in Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota. Total sorghum damage came in at just 0.0 percent in the aggregate, and broken kernel and foreign material was only 1.6 percent, both similar to last year’s results. ************************************************************************************ Application Period Opens for 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, has opened online applications for the 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge. The national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies that are providing solutions to challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Farm Bureau will award $165,000 in startup funds provided by sponsors Farm Credit, Bayer Crop Science, Farm Bureau Bank, Farm Bureau Financial Services, FMC Corporation and John Deere. Launched in 2015 as the first national competition focused exclusively on rural entrepreneurs, the contest continues to identify the next ag entrepreneurs to watch and supports innovation essential to Farm Bureau member businesses and communities. AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, “Now, more than ever, we need creative solutions from entrepreneurs to help our farmers, ranchers and rural communities thrive.” For this eighth year of the competition, Farm Bureau is seeking entrepreneurs who are addressing either traditional or new/emerging challenges. Find application guidelines and apply at fb.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 8, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Inequalities in Recovery Alarm IMF The New York Times is reporting this week that there is a danger that emerging markets will fall far behind their advanced counterparts and become “the whole world's problem.” The Times argues that the global economy is rebounding faster than previously expected, largely thanks to the strength of the United States. The global dynamic appears to be following a “K-shaped” pattern worldwide, NYT says. While many wealthy nations are poised for a major economic expansion this year, others could end up reversing decades of progress in fighting poverty. Top international economic officials are now warning that this divergence, which is being amplified by sluggish deployment of vaccines in developing countries, is a threat to stability and long-term growth. “Economic fortunes within countries and across countries are diverging dangerously,” Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF, said at a panel discussion on Tuesday during the annual spring meetings of the fund and the World Bank. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen emphasized that point, saying that the inability of low- and middle-income countries to invest in robust inoculation programs could result in “a deeper and longer-lasting crisis, with mounting problems of indebtedness, more entrenched poverty and growing inequality.” Fears over rising inequality were underscored on Tuesday as the IMF said it was upgrading its global growth forecast for the year thanks to vaccinations of hundreds of millions of people, efforts that are expected to help fuel a sharp economic rebound. The wealthiest countries are leading the way out of the crisis, particularly the United States, whose economy is now projected to expand by 6.4% in 2021. The euro area is expected to expand by 4.4% and Japan is forecast to expand by 3.3%. Among emerging market and developing economies, China and India are expected to drive growth. China's economy is projected to expand by 8.4%, offering its own significant boost to overall global growth, and India's is expected to expand by 12.5%. But within advanced economies, low-skilled workers have been hit the hardest and those who lost jobs could find it difficult to replace them. And low-income countries are facing bigger losses in economic output than advanced economies, reversing gains in poverty reduction and risking long-lasting pandemic-era scars. Emerging market economies in many cases have fewer resources for fiscal stimulus, vaccine investments and labor force retraining--factors that put them at risk of falling behind and getting stuck as the world starts its rebound. If their growth lags badly, the fact that big economies like the United States are accelerating could compound the pain. A stronger American growth outlook already is pushing up market-based interest rates on U.S. government debt. As that happens, it attracts capital from abroad, making borrowing more expensive in already-weak economies and risking currency volatility. Researchers at the IMF pointed out recently that it is important that rates on U.S. debt are rising because of a strengthening economic outlook, one that will benefit many economies by stoking demand for their exports. Still, “countries that export less to the United States yet rely more on external borrowing could feel financial market stress.” Most U.S. officials have focused on how stronger domestic growth could actually help the rest of the world as American consumers buy foreign goods and services. “This year the U.S. looks like it's going to be a locomotive for the global economy,” Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida said. Yellen made a similar argument on Tuesday during a panel discussion at the IMF, at which she urged countries not to let up on fiscal support. “Stronger growth in the U.S. is going to spill over positively to the entire global outlook and we are going to be careful to learn the lessons of the financial crisis, which is 'don't withdraw support too quickly,'” she said. “There's a race right now between these variants of concern and vaccines,” she said on Tuesday. Yellen urged “global cooperation and attention” to how disparities in vaccine distribution affect inequality and economic recoveries. The IMF agrees. Vitor Gaspar, the fund's director of fiscal affairs, said that the virus cannot be eradicated anywhere until it is eradicated everywhere. “Global vaccination is probably the global public investment with the highest return ever considered,” Gaspar said in an interview. “Vaccination policy is economic policy.” “We think market participants underestimate the likely pace of improvement in both the public health situation and economic activity in the remainder of 2021,” Jan Hatzius at Goldman Sachs said. Vaccinations are high or progressing in Canada, Australia, Britain and the euro area. In emerging markets, he noted that Goldman economists expect 60% to 70% of the population to have “at least some immunity” by the end of the year when counting prior coronavirus infection and vaccine proliferation. From the Fed to the European Central Bank and Bank of Japan, monetary authorities have employed a mix of rock-bottom rates, huge bond purchases and other emergency settings to try to cushion the pandemic's fallout. Organizing bodies have echoed Yellen's comment: They argue that it's important to see the recovery through, rather than pulling back on economic help early. So, we will see. The vigorous global reductions in virus cases and sighs of economic recovery will be very welcome. Efforts to widen the recovery will be welcome, but difficult to manage -- trends producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 8, 2021 |


Countries Taking Trade Actions on Food Price Inflation Russia's government has approved a formula-based export tax system for sunflower oil and a higher export tax on sunflower seeds, the government said, with the actions linked to ongoing efforts to combat domestic food price inflation. The order signed by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin would set a one-year export tax on sunflower oil of 70% of the difference between $1,000 and a price per metric ton calculated by the country's ag ministry. That price will be reduced by $50 per ton each month. Sunflower seed exports will be taxed at 50%, with a minimum of $320 per tonne for July 1, 2021 and August 31, 2022. Meanwhile, South Korea will lift import tariffs on edible corn and some grains through the end of 2021 in a bid to ease inflationary pressures in the country, but the quota system will still apply, according to an announcement from South Korean Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki. Currently, duties of 3% are levied on imported edible corn, according to Yonhap news. The country will also import eggs and release reserves of napa cabbage, with imports of 25 million eggs planned in April to temper prices that have risen due to bird flu -- Yonhap reported egg imports totaled 64 million since late January.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 8, 2021 |


Olympics Now Snared In Xinjiang Controversy Axios is reporting that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gave a uniform contract for this summer's games in Japan to Hengyuanxing (HYX) Group for formal uniforms, including those used in ceremonies, for IOC members and staff. HYX has advertised on e-commerce platforms that its products contain Xinjiang cotton, and one of the factories overseen by HYX Group is located in Xinjiang, according to the company website. An IOC spokesperson told Axios that the HYX Group has provided the IOC with a certificate on the origin of cotton for the production of IOC uniforms and that the cotton originated outside China. The IOC did not provide a copy of the certificate to Axios and emphasized that the IOC “must remain neutral on all global political issues.” While it is committed to upholding human rights, the IOC said it “has neither the mandate nor the capability to change the laws or the political system of a sovereign country.” The item also notes that the IOC did not say where the certificate came from or what process was used to make the claims.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 8, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all set for 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. The U.S. Energy Department releases natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Grain traders may be cautious ahead of Friday's WASDE report, but will check the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the Midwest and Mid-South Thursday. The rain offers row crop soil moisture ahead of planting. Meanwhile, dry, warm and windy conditions will sweep across the Plains with a notable fire threat. This combination is stressful to wheat

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 7, 2021 |


Ag Economy Barometer up 12 Points The Ag Economy Barometer rose in March to 177, the highest reading for the barometer since the record high reading of 184 in October. Organizers say this month’s 12-point rise in the barometer was attributable almost entirely to ag producers’ more optimistic view of the future. The Index of Future Expectations climbed to 164, 16 points above February’s index. Although the Index of Current Conditions, at 202, changed little from a month earlier when it stood at 200, it did mark a return to the index’s record high, first reached in December. Strong ag commodity prices and improved farm financial conditions continue to support the Ag Economy Barometer readings as heading into planting season. The improvement in future expectations occurred even though producers are becoming increasingly pessimistic that the trade dispute with China will be resolved in a way that’s beneficial to U.S. agriculture. Producers continue to be relatively optimistic about making capital investments and became more optimistic about farmland values. ************************************************************************************ USDA Weekly Crop Progress Reports Begin Planting season is underway as the Department of Agriculture released the first weekly Crop Progress report for 2021 Monday. USDA says planting has begun for barley, corn, cotton, oats, rice, sorghum, spring wheat, and sugarbeets. By this time last year, two percent of the corn crop had been planted, and two percent has been planted so far in 2021. Six percent of the cotton crop is in the ground, one percentage point behind the same time last year. Meanwhile, 14 percent of the sorghum crop is planted, one percentage point behind a year ago. Barley, oats, rice, spring wheat and sugarbeet plantings are similar to 2020 progress. Crop Progress reports are released the first workday of the week during the growing season from April through November. The reports list planting, developmental, and harvesting progress, and overall condition of selected crops in major producing states. Crops featured in the report include corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, sorghum, cotton, oats, barley, peanuts, sugarbeets, and sunflowers. ************************************************************************************ Droughts Longer, Rainfall More Erratic in the West Dry periods between rainstorms have become longer, and annual rainfall has become more erratic across most of the western United States during the past 50 years. A study published by The Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service finds rain has been falling in fewer and sometimes larger storms, with longer dry intervals between. Total yearly rainfall has decreased by an average of four inches over the last half century, while the longest dry period in each year increased from 20 to 32 days across the West. Extreme droughts are also occurring more often in the majority of the West, according to historical weather data, as there has been an increase in the year-to-year variation of both total rainfall amounts and the duration of dry periods. Notable exceptions to these drought patterns were seen in Washington, Oregon and Idaho and the Northern Plains region of Montana, Wyoming, and the most western parts of North and South Dakota. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Calls on Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to Veto Anti E15 Bill Growth Energy Tuesday urged Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to veto state legislation the biofuels group claims is intended to destroy demand for E15, a fuel blend with 15 percent ethanol. In a letter to Governor Holcomb, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor states, “SB 303 was designed to stall new competition at the fuel pump and prevent more consumers from saving three to ten cents per gallon on a lower-carbon, higher-octane fuel blend.” According to the letter, SB 303 seeks to limit sales of E15 by mandating warning labels on E15 fuel dispensers that serve “only to confuse consumers and add completely unnecessary redundancy” to already burdensome federal labeling requirements. The fuel already has similar federal label requirements. The bill establishes new maximum vapor pressure limits for gasoline and for ethanol blended fuels in the state. Additionally, fuel dispensers of E15 must have a statement “Attention: E15. Check owner's manual for compatibility and warranty requirements." ************************************************************************************ Missouri River 2021 Runoff Forecast Below Average Reservoir inflows in the Missouri River basin above Sioux City, Iowa were well-below average in March, contributing to a below-average forecast for 2021. John Remus, chief of the Missouri River Basin Water Management Division for the Army Corps of Engineers, says, "Due to the lack of plains snowpack in 2021, below-average mountain snowpack, and dry upper basin conditions, we expect upper basin runoff to be below average.” The updated 2021 upper basin runoff forecast is 21.3 million acre-feet, 83 percent of average. The upper basin runoff forecast is based on soil moisture conditions, plains snowpack, mountain snowpack, and long-term precipitation and temperature outlooks. System storage is currently 56.1 million-acre-feet, at the base of the annual flood control zone. The Army Corps of Engineers says the system is positioned to serve all Congressionally authorized purposes during 2021, including flood control, navigation, and water supply. Gavins Point Dam releases were increased near the end of March to begin flow support for Missouri River navigation. ************************************************************************************ World Dairy Expo 2021 To Remain in Madison, Wisconsin World Dairy Expo will remain in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2021. Event organizers last week announced the 54th edition of the event is scheduled September 28 – October 2, 2021 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. The announcement follows contingency planning and consideration of alternative venues. Bill Hageman, WDE Board President, says, “The clarity that Expo’s leaders sought from Dane County officials regarding the path forward for responsibly and safely hosting World Dairy Expo 2021 at the Alliant Energy Center has come to fruition.” Also, Dane County, Wisconsin, Home of World Dairy Expo, offered the event a ten-year contract extension to keep it in Madison. Discussions regarding the contract extension proposed concerning World Dairy Expo’s use of the Alliant Energy Center, a county-owned facility, will take place over the coming months. In a traditional year, World Dairy Expo welcomes upwards of 70,000 attendees and provides anan economic impact of more than $45 million each year.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 7, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Senate Parliamentarian Ruling Favors Democrats Bloomberg is reporting this week that the prospects for President Joe Biden's economic agenda could be enhanced by a new ruling from the Senate parliamentarian that opens the door to passing multiple additional bills this year without Republican support. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Sunday that Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough has ruled Democrats could enact another reconciliation package by revising the budget blueprint the Democratic Congress adopted earlier this year. The ruling “allows Democrats additional tools to improve the lives of Americans if Republican obstructions continue,” said the spokesman, Justin Goodman. Goodman said no decisions have been made on how to move Biden's agenda, but called the decision nonetheless “an important step forward” and “that this key pathway is available to Democrats if needed.” Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., praised the ruling. “The American people want bold action to address our country's many challenges, and Democrats now have more options to overcome Republican obstruction and get things done,” he said. Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package passed using the budget reconciliation process, which bypasses the 60-vote rule required to pass most legislation in the Senate. The Democrats' plan released over the weekend and Biden's corporate tax proposals last week are designed to help raise revenue for the administration's sweeping $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan. Both mark a shift from the 2017 tax law, which dramatically lowered corporate tax rates and eased rules in the name of making U.S. companies more competitive globally – but which both Biden and Senate Democrats say has given incentives for companies to ship jobs overseas. However, the plan proposed by Wyden, Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Mark Warner, D-Va., doesn't call for an increase in the corporate tax rate, as Biden's proposal does. The Senate plan would also retain in altered form some provisions of the 2017 law that Biden apparently wants to scrap. The tax plan the administration laid out last week would likely hit technology and pharmaceutical companies particularly hard, although the challenge for legislators would be to minimize loopholes and thus diminish the impact, tax experts said. Much of the most valuable assets at pharmaceutical and tech companies are intellectual property, like patents and algorithms--intangibles that make it easier for them to structure global operations in a way to minimize tax costs. Both Republicans and Democrats have sought to bolster the U.S. tax take from companies' overseas operations and President Trump's 2017 overhaul included measures to do that. Biden's plan takes a tougher approach, with a 21% minimum tax on foreign profits and a 15% minimum levy on profits reported on financial statements. It limits companies from using credits for research and development costs and deductions for paying employees in stock. The provisions--part of the administration's plan to finance a $2.25 trillion infrastructure package--mean that tech and pharmaceutical companies could lose many of the tax-planning tools that allowed them to pay low rates for years. In the meantime, in other news, Bloomberg noted that nuclear talks between Iran and world powers began their most serious attempt yet to resurrect a troubled deal, with negotiators from the U.S. and Islamic Republic gathered at the same venue for the first time since the U.S. withdrew from the earlier deal. Diplomats arrived at Vienna's Hotel Imperial this week for the talks, which may extend through the end of the week if progress is made. Iranian and U.S. negotiators aren't expected to speak directly, reflecting the deep distrust they will have to overcome. Also, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry is in New Delhi this week to push Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government to boost its climate ambitions as it considers announcing a net zero target ahead of a virtual summit later this month. The visit comes ahead of a meeting of leaders from 40 nations organized by President Biden that will run from April 22-23 aimed at galvanizing efforts to commit to more ambitious climate change mitigation targets, at a time of rising pressure on nations to consider net-zero greenhouse gas emissions targets after China announced its plan last year. Kerry met in India on Monday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss climate issues. The brief talks in New Delhi came as the U.S. is seeking the participation of the leaders of Russia and China, along with dozens of others, in the global summit on climate change later this month. So far, the Kremlin hasn't said whether President Vladimir Putin will attend. Finally, Bloomberg says Fed Chair Jerome Powell will attempt to forecast Black unemployment in the near future. This suggests that Wall Street economists will need to try their hand at forecasting new variables – like the Black unemployment rate. That shift in focus could itself contribute to the outcome that the Fed chair says he wants: an economic expansion reaching corners of the labor force that have been slower to recover in the past. So, we will see. The new administration is attempting to apply new tools and stronger approaches to a number of social objectives, although the toxicity of the Washington climate remains very high. These are fights and concerns that producers should watch extremely carefully as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 7, 2021 |


Biden To Tap Bianchi For USTR Post Bloomberg reports that President Joe Biden will likely name longtime aide and Obama administration veteran Sarah Bianchi as deputy U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Bianchi is a senior managing director at Evercore ISI International and has previously worked for BlackRock and Airbnb. She is also chair on the advisory board of the Biden Institute at the University of Delaware. A decision is not yet final, and Bianchi is still being vetted, the report said. During the second term of the Obama administration, Bianchi served as deputy assistant to the president for economic policy and director of policy for then-Vice President Biden.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 7, 2021 |


USDA Reopened CFAP Signup USDA announced that with updates to the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), signup for CFAP 2 restarted April 5 and will run at least 60 days. CFAP updates include an increase in CFAP 1 payments for cattle which will total more than $1.1 billion for over 410,000 producers. An additional CFAP 2 payment of $20 per acre for producers of eligible flat-rate or price-triggered crops will total more than $4.5 billion to over 560,000 producers. USDA said it will also process eligible payments for CFAP Additional Assistance (CFAP-AA) and will finalize routine decisions and minor formula adjustment on applications and begin processing payments for certain applications filed for the program. USDA also said it would earmark at least $6 billion for new programs using funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act approved in December. However, the agency did not detail yet what form the assistance will take beyond a broad list of commodities and other areas the program will address -- Pandemic Assistance for Producers. The assistance is also expected to come for biofuel producers who have so far not been deemed eligible for any USDA assistance. USDA is currently accepting proposals for cooperative agreements to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 7, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Census Bureau will report on the trade deficit for February at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday. Later that morning, USDA will distribute official export data for various ag products. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly inventory report, including an update on ethanol production. At 1 p.m. CDT, the Federal Reserve will issue minutes from its latest FOMC meeting. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the north-central through southeastern Plains and the western Midwest Wednesday. Moisture is favorable ahead of spring planting. Driest areas of the northern Plains are being bypassed by this rain, however.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 6, 2021 |


USDA Reopens CFAP2 Enrollment The Department of Agriculture Monday reopened the signup window for the CFAP 2, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. CFAP 2 provides financial assistance that gives producers the ability to absorb increased marketing costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The initial CFAP 2 signup ended in December, but USDA has reopened the signup period for CFAP 2 for at least 60 days. Producers have multiple options to apply for CFAP 2, including through an online application portal and working directly with the FSA office at their local USDA Service Center. USDA will also finalize routine decisions and minor formula adjustments on applications and begin processing payments for certain applications filed as part of the CFAP Additional Assistance. Additionally, USDA announced $2 million to establish partnerships with organizations to provide outreach and technical assistance to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. A USDA spokesperson says, “This funding will support grassroots organizations and public institutions as we support their producers.” ************************************************************************************ Consumers Grocery Store Visits Down A new report from Placer.ai shows consumers are not heading to the grocery store as much in 2021, compared to 2020. Pandemic-driven shopping sprees last year had consumers cleaning grocery store shelves. The analytics firm reports a 28 percent drop in store visits the week of March 8, 2021. One researcher says, “2021 is going to be mired in the unique challenge of trying to make sense of certain sectors in a world where year-over-year data could be heavily misleading.” Visits to leading grocers like Albertsons or Publix during the week of March 8 were down 34.6 percent and 20.3 percent, respectively. Yet, when looking at the same brands compared to the equivalent week in 2019, the picture shifts dramatically, with Albertsons down just 0.3 percent and Publix up 0.8 percent. While COVID’s health effects seem to be dissipating, the economic consequences will last far longer, as researchers say grocery stores still provide a cost-conscious alternative to eating out. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Hemp Seed Production Increasing Hemp cultivated for seed and grain comprised approximately ten percent of 2020 total U.S. acreage, approximately 14,000 acres, according to data provided by Hemp Benchmarks. By comparison, Canadian cultivators grew more than five times that acreage, beyond 75,000 acres, the vast majority of which were exported to the United States. Exports to the U.S. have exceeded $300 million since 2010, and the U.S. is quickly closing the gap as the artificial protectionism provided by prohibition evaporates. Growth in U.S. acreage is being fueled largely by increased consumer demand for plant-based proteins, as well as optimism that hemp legalization will broaden potential markets for grain. Hemp grain production in the United States is most concentrated in three states – Indiana, Montana, and North Dakota. New Frontier Data projects that 2020 retail sales for hemp food products will account for $67.1 million, and grow to $144.1 million by 2025. The fastest-growing product category of hemp seed products is protein powder, which rang up $4.7 million in total sales in 2020. ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks Public Input to Create a New Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program The Department of Agriculture seeks public input to help create a new Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. USDA is seeking written comments and will host a public listening session on April 22, 2021. USDA’s Justin Maxson says, “we must put rural communities at the heart of climate action and climate-smart solutions, and that begins with getting feedback.” The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 provided $10 million to USDA to develop a pilot program that provides financial assistance to rural communities to further develop renewable energy. The request for information and the stakeholder listening session seek input to help develop options for the Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. The new program will aim to support the nation’s critical energy needs, and combat climate change while advancing environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity using distributed energy technologies, innovations, and/or solutions. Written comments are encouraged and must be submitted online by April 29, 2021, via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at regulations.gov. ************************************************************************************ Chicken Marketing Summit 2021 Registration Opens Registration is now open for the 2021 Chicken Marketing Summit. The annual executive conference, hosted by WATT Global Media, is scheduled for July 18-20, 2021, at the Omni Amelia Island Resort in Fernandina Beach, Florida. This year’s Chicken Marketing Summit will focus on what consumers will be looking for from protein suppliers and what strategies will be most effective for chicken marketers going forward. Organizers say the Summit begins with a look at the future of food and a high-level look at the impacts of African Swine Fever and COVID-19 on world supply, demand and trade of meat. The talks progress from there to explore foodservice and retail strategies that succeeded in the pandemic and ones that are poised to soar post-pandemic. The Summit wraps up with discussions on strategies for connecting with consumers and creating effective messaging in the post-pandemic era. The conference includes eight general sessions focusing on the forward-looking theme "Charting post-pandemic success. For more information, visit www.chickenmarketingsummit.com. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Stabilize as OPEC Increases May Oil Production For the third consecutive week, the national average price of gasoline dropped, declining 0.4 cents to $2.86 per gallon, according to GasBuddy. The national average stands 9.9 cents higher than a month ago and nearly 96 cents higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel fell 0.2 cents in the last week and stands at $3.08 per gallon. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “last week was a mixed bag for consumers at the pump as gas prices in half of states rose, while the other half saw declines.” De Haan says gasoline prices may see a second run to reach a national average of $3 per gallon in the months ahead. Data from the Energy Information Administration last week printed a decline in U.S. oil inventories, which now stand about six percent above the average range for this time of year. Meanwhile, U.S. gasoline demand continued to rise for the week ending March 27, as Americans continued to get outside amidst better conditions and fewer travel restrictions.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 6, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New Chinese Banking Rules The New York Times reported last weekend that China has been putting “limits on foreign banks, and that foreign businesses are worried by the move.” The new rules are seen as efforts to tame big money flows and possibly for controlling the Chinese currency, “that could give domestic rivals a competitive edge and make international firms more dependent on local lenders,” the Times says. The rules changes are seen as “sharply limiting the ability of foreign banks to do business in the country, making them less competitive against local rivals,” the Times said. One set of rules enacted in December and January restricts how much money foreign banks can transfer into China from overseas. Another, which took effect last Wednesday, required many foreign banks to make fewer loans and sell off bonds and other investments. The changes are causing a stir among the global bank executives and foreign companies in China that depend on those lenders for money, the Times says. Among other concerns, borrowers worry that the rules could make foreign-owned businesses more dependent on China's state-run banking system for the money they need to grow — and could give Beijing another potential pressure point to use against Washington and others over trade, human rights, geopolitics and other sticky issues. Banks and trade groups have been reluctant to speak publicly for fear of triggering further regulatory measures. But in a January letter to China's central bank that was reviewed by the Times, the EU Chamber of Commerce in China raised concerns about the money transfer limits. “In some cases, the risk brought about by this major structural change may fundamentally overturn the strategic development direction of EU banks” in China, the letter said. The new rules could complicate already thorny political issues, such as the U.S.-China trade war, a pending investment agreement between China and the European Union and long-simmering tensions over how Beijing controls the value of the Chinese currency. The new U.S. administration has shown little interest in letting up on the trade sanctions pressed by his predecessor and the two sides are also clashing over human rights, particularly Beijing's repression of mostly Muslim ethnic minorities in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang and its crackdown on democracy activists in Hong Kong. International companies have been caught in the middle. Over the past two weeks, Chinese state media and the country's online community have encouraged boycotts of foreign businesses like H&M, the Swedish retailer, and Nike, the American athletic brand, after they vowed not to use cotton made by forced labor in Xinjiang. Still, the Times says that the reasons behind China's new banking rules aren't clear, though they appear to have little to do with the tense political environment. They seem to be aimed instead at stemming big, potentially disruptive flows of money into the country. China, which keeps tight control over external money movements appear to be worried that a surge of funds could lead to nasty surprises like inflation. Money poured into the country in the second half of last year as the Chinese economy threw off its pandemic doldrums while activity in much of the rest of the world shrank. Big money flows into a country can also make its currency rise in value — and China appears to be working hard to counter that. China's currency, the renminbi, rose sharply in value against the U.S. dollar in the second half of last year — a shift that was bad news for China's exporters. But since the Chinese government enacted its new banking rules, the currency has begun to weaken and now stands at about 6.6 renminbi to the dollar. The new rules alone aren't likely significant enough to account for the sudden halt to the renminbi's rise. But they join other moves by the Chinese government in recent months that have made moving money into China slightly harder and moving it out slightly easier. Combined, they could put pressure on the renminbi to weaken. Still, Chinese officials continue to stress that their country is open to foreign investment, particularly banking. “The inflow of foreign capital is inevitable, but so far, the scale and speed are still within our control,” Guo Shuqing, the chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, which has worked closely with the central bank on the new policies, said during a news conference on March 2. “We continue to encourage foreign financial institutions to enter China for shared development.” With near-zero interest rates elsewhere, international banks borrowed cheaply abroad. Until the new rules kicked in, they could send that money to China and lend or invest it there, reaping higher returns. The first of the new rules, issued in a memo to banks in December, appeared to be aimed at that trend and it limited the ability of global banks to raise money overseas and move it into China. The rule is being phased in but was written in a way that has already had a big effect on financial contracts involving bets on currency trends. Concerned about the rapid growth of credit in the Chinese economy, regulators ordered domestic and foreign banks to limit their balance sheets recently to show only slight growth from last year. Because China has recently loosened limits on foreign purchases of bonds, many foreign banks had been buying more bonds for sale to foreign customers, expanding their balance sheets. The full impact of the new rules will depend on how long they stay in place. Eswar Prasad, a Cornell University economist, predicted that China would eventually resume opening up to foreign financial institutions. “They don't want to scare off foreign investors in the medium to long term,” he said. So, we will see. The new administration is strongly stressing domestic job growth, and appears to be committed to continue that emphasis, high-stakes policies producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 6, 2021 |


Chinese Boycott On Certain Western Clothing Brands May Be Backfiring After several brands such as Nike and Adidas said they would no longer buy cotton from Chinese suppliers in Xinjiang over reports that the growers rely on forced labor by ethnic minorities to produce their cotton, Beijing called for a boycott of several companies. However, reports indicate sales of most of the boycotted brands are soaring as Chinese consumers rush to buy items before the government blocks sales entirely. Clearly, this is not likely the impact Beijing intended.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 6, 2021 |


Still Waiting on Initial Look at Biden Budget The first look at President Joe Biden's Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 discretionary budget request was not unveiled Friday, April 2, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) confirmed. OMB declined to provide more specifics on the timeline for release, which had been expected last week. It seems there are funding disagreements among some departments, with most of the focus on the Pentagon. It will be interesting to see how the new administration puts forth its initial spending plan, with ag interests watching to see if there are any proposed reductions in programs like crop insurance that have been proposed over the years. But those suggested cuts from any administration have rarely been followed by lawmakers that write the spending details.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 6, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday has no official reports on the docket, but traders will pay attention to the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news on export sales. Weather Tuesday will find light rain showers crossing the central Plains and western Midwest. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to below normal north and above to much above normal central and south. In addition, strong south winds will lead to high fire danger in the southern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 5, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Strong March Jobs Report Helps Focus on Infrastructure The Hill is reporting this week that the strong March jobs report is helping the administration make its his case for a major investment in U.S. infrastructure funded by corporate tax hikes. The U.S. Labor Department said that accelerating COVID-19 vaccinations, easing restrictions and growing confidence fueled a strong surge in hiring in March, helping the U.S. add 916,000 jobs last month and push the jobless rate down 0.2 percentage points. The growing strength of the economy is sorely needed for millions of Americans who are still struggling to get by more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic. But it's also a significant political asset for the administration as it fends off Republican criticism of the next stage of its economic agenda. GOP lawmakers have ripped President Biden for proposing a series of corporate tax hikes to fund the $2.5 trillion infrastructure proposal, called “the American Jobs Plan.” While Republicans are usually opposed to raising taxes in any context, they've argued that doing so now will undercut the recovery from the pandemic. The exceptional March jobs gain, however, gives the president and the Democrats a boost as they push to kick the recovery into another gear, The Hill says. “It's a once-in-a-generation investment in our economic future — a chance to win the future, paid for by asking big corporations, many of which do not pay any taxes at all, just to begin to pay their fair share,” the president said Friday. “Asking corporate America just to pay their fair share will not slow the economy at all. It will make the economy function better and will create more energy.” After shepherding a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill through Congress, President Biden is looking to cement a rapid recovery from the pandemic-driven recession and permanently lift the long-term trajectory of the U.S. economy with an eight-year building spree, he says. The administration's proposal, released Wednesday, would fund projects to repair 20,000 miles of roads and 10,000 bridges, expand broadband access to rural and underserved communities, and replace all of the nation's lead pipes and service lines. It also includes investments in research, development and manufacturing, affordable housing, climate resilience, and access to home and community-based care. “I think we were in a decent place in the past but I think the pandemic has really ripped the bandage off all the scars that we've been hiding for decades,” said Jane Oates, a former Obama Labor Department official who serves as president of non-profit WorkingNation. “Building back better would be looking at people for what they can do, the skills they have, rather than looking at just where they had the privilege of attending school,” she said. “People and families who are out of work or working below the level they were working in February of last year – do we leave them out and wait and hope that everything will be okay?” While some Republicans say they're interested in aspects of Biden's plan, its size, expansive scope and the tax hikes to cover its cost make it a non-starter for GOP lawmakers. The measure can still pass through budget reconciliation without any GOP support if Democrats are united on the measure. But Democrats can afford barely any defections in the House and none in the Senate – and Republican lawmakers and conservative groups are reminding voters of the tax hikes in seeking to make centrist Democrats pull support for the measure. “With lockdowns easing and vaccine distribution ramping up, small businesses are reopening and consumer demand is surging. However, the long-term economic outlook remains murky,” said Alfredo Ortiz, president of the Job Creators Network, a conservative non-profit campaigning against the administration's proposal. “Biden's tax plan is a dagger in the heart of small businesses who are finally getting breathing room after one of the toughest years in history,” he said. Most economists, however, expect the U.S. economy to accelerate even faster as COVID-19 vaccinations increase and funding from the administration's relief plan fuels further growth. The surveys used to calculate the March jobs report took place the week Biden signed the bill and before any new aid was disbursed. Orin Klachkin and Gregory Daco of Oxford Economics said in a Friday analysis that the U.S. is on track to add more than 6 million more jobs this year. “Looking ahead, the labor market is poised for an impressive run as expanding vaccine distribution, more reopenings, and fiscal stimulus drive a hiring surge,” they wrote. Even so, the U.S. would still be down more than 2 million jobs from pre-pandemic levels, and there roughly 4 million people who left the labor force because of COVID-19 still lack any clear path back in. Biden administration officials say the long road to a full recovery and the deeply unequal impact of the pandemic makes passage of the American Jobs Plan even more urgent. Janelle Jones, chief economist at the Labor Department, cited the increase in the unemployment rate for Asian Americans from 5.1% to 6% in March. “And the rates for Black and Hispanic workers remain high,” she wrote in a Friday analysis. “At the same time, the average duration of unemployment increased by two weeks. We'll need a tight labor market to get them back to work.” So, we will see. The administration and others are citing strong signs of recovery in support of their programs and proposals, but the opposition also is highly energized. The coming fights will continue to be highly significant for producers and should be watched closely as the season emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 5, 2021 |


DMC Payments Triggered For February With monthly USDA prices for milk and feed components (corn, blended alfalfa hay, and soymeal) resulting in a National average margin in February of $6.22 per cwt., dairy operations with Tier 1 coverage levels under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) will see payments triggered for levels at $9.50, $9, $8.50, $8, $7.50, $7 and $6.50. Payments under Tier 2 coverage levels are triggered for $8, $7.50, $7, and $6.50. For Tier 1, payments will range from $0.28 per cwt. at $6.50 coverage to $3.28 per cwt. for $9.50 coverage. The Tier 2 payments will range from $0.28 per cwt. for $6.50 coverage and $1.78 per cwt. for $8.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 5, 2021 |


China Prominent in USTR Report on Trade Barriers The National Trade Estimates Report on Foreign Trade Barriers issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) covers 61 countries, the European Union, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Arab League, with a note that just because countries are not included in the report, it does not mean they not of concern to the U.S. Not surprisingly, China occupies 35 pages in the 574-page report, with several notations on the Phase One agreement between the U.S. and China. “The Phase One Agreement also includes a commitment by China to make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in calendar years 2020 and 2021,” the report noted. “Importantly, the Phase One Agreement establishes a strong dispute resolution system that ensures prompt and effective implementation and enforcement. Since the entry into force of the Phase One Agreement in February 2020, the United States continues to engage China as issues arise and will continue to monitor developments closely.” The report noted several areas relative to agriculture where progress has been made, but still concluded, China remains a difficult and unpredictable market for U.S. agricultural exporters, largely because of inconsistent enforcement of regulations and selective intervention in the market by China's regulatory authorities. The failure of China's regulators to routinely follow science-based, international standards, and guidelines further complicates and impedes agricultural trade.” The report also focuses on China's overcapacity in several areas, their intellectual property rights actions, technology transfers and more.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 5, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Early Monday, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and will pause at 8 a.m. CDT Monday to see if there is any export sales news from USDA. USDA's weekly report of grain inspections is set for 10 a.m., followed by an update of winter wheat conditions in the first Crop Progress report of 2021 at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Some isolated showers will dot the area from Nebraska to Michigan on Monday. Otherwise primary crop areas will remain dry and very warm.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 2, 2021 |


Biden Announces Infrastructure Plan President Biden released a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that will address needs in rural America that agricultural stakeholders have been asking Washington to address. The Hagstrom Report says the proposal will cover many traditional infrastructure projects like roads, bridges, and inland waterways. The plan will also attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the big benefit to rural America will include trying to bring high-speed broadband service to the most remote parts of rural America. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “The plan promises to close the broadband gap in rural America for millions of Americans, something that’s vital for health care, education, and employment in the digital age.” The package would be partly financed by increasing the corporate income tax rate from 21 to 28 percent. The rate increase has already generated growing opposition in the business world and among many lawmakers on Capitol Hill. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable have already rejected the idea of raising the corporate tax rate. The Chamber says the plan will slow the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19 and reduce global competitiveness. ********************************************************************************************** Hog Slaughter Line Speed Rule Tossed Out A federal court invalidated a Trump-era rule that allowed hog slaughter plants to run without line speed limits. The United Food and Commercial Workers Union filed a lawsuit against the USDA challenging a 2019 rule change that allowed faster slaughter speeds. The union said in its lawsuit that the change made working conditions unsafe for line employees. Reuters says the ruling from a Minnesota federal judge won’t be received well by the U.S. pork industry, which is trying to rebuild supplies of meat after COVID-19 closed slaughterhouses last year. Workers at Seaboard Foods, the second-largest pig producer in the country, told Reuters that faster line speeds increased worker injuries at the plant. The Biden Administration, which promised to make worker safety a priority, withdrew a Trump proposal to allow all poultry plants to work at faster-than-established line speed limits. The pork rule was going to be more difficult to reverse because it was already in effect. Food & Water Watch, a U.S.-based environmental group, calls the ruling “a resounding victory for the safety of plant workers.” Senior staff attorney Zach Corrigan adds that “This decision should send a signal to the Biden administration that it should reverse course and consider every aspect of those rules.” ********************************************************************************************** Weekly Ethanol Production Rises While Inventories Drop The Energy Information Administration says ethanol output surged before last week while inventories shrank. Ethanol production increased to an average of 965,000 barrels a day in the week ending on March 26. That’s up from the 922,000 barrels produced daily during the previous week. The Midwest, by far the largest producing region, averaged 917,000 barrels per day, up from 876,000 a week earlier. Gulf Coast production jumped to an average of 18,000 barrels per day from 14,000 barrels. The East Coast ethanol output didn’t change from week to week, staying at an average of 12,000 barrels a day. Government data also shows West Coast production staying at 9,000 barrels. The Rocky Mountain region was the only one that saw its production drop, averaging around 9,000 barrels a day. In the meantime, U.S. stockpiles of ethanol dropped to 21.14 million barrels in the week ending on March 26. The Energy Information Administration says that’s down from 21.809 million a week earlier and the lowest since the seven days that ended on November 20. ********************************************************************************************** AFIA Applauds Vilsack Enthusiasm for TPA The American Feed Industry Association commends Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack for his leadership in asking Congress to renew Trade Promotion Authority legislation. AFIA’s President and CEO Constance Cullman says the animal feed and pet food industries are encouraged by Secretary Vilsack’s recognition of the importance of renewing TPA and is hopeful that the Biden administration intends to take an active and supportive position in renewing it. “As trade in the animal food sector continues to grow, we applaud Secretary Vilsack for standing behind U.S. agriculture and being the first within the administration to express both the need and support for TPA renewal.” The Trade Promotion Authority allows the U.S. trade representative to enter trade discussions with negotiating positions and priorities already agreed upon by Congress, which provides potential trading partners with the confidence that Congress will likely ratify any final agreement. TPA is not a new idea; it’s been utilized during presidential administrations going back to 1974 and has only been authorized four times. As the administration focuses on domestic issues, it’s not clear if it will request TPA renewal before the deadline this summer. ************************************************************************************ CFTC Charges Washington State Rancher and Feedyard in $233 Million Scheme The Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed a civil enforcement action in the U.S. District Court in eastern Washington state. The action charges Easterday Ranches, Incorporated, a Pasco, Washington-based cattle feedyard, and Cody Easterday, the co-owner and former president of Easterday Ranches, for engaging in cattle fraud in connection with the sale of more than 200,000 non-existent head of cattle to a beef processor. Easterday is also charged with making false statements to an exchange and violating exchange-set position limits. The CFTC complaint seeks restitution, disgorgement, civil monetary penalties, permanent trading and registration bans to Easterday, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and the CFTC. According to the complaint, Easterday accumulated more than $200 million in losses over a decade from speculative trading in the cattle futures market. To meet margin calls, Easterday came up with a scheme to defraud one of his biggest business partners, a South Dakota-based beef producer. Easterday Ranches submitted fake invoices and reimbursement requests relating to more than 200,000 head of cattle it never actually purchased or raised on the producer’s behalf. Easterday received more than $233 million to which it wasn’t entitled. ********************************************************************************************** 20 States Support NAMI Against Prop 12 A total of 20 states filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting the North American Meat Institute’s petition challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 12 in California. “The governments of nearly half the states agree that if California is allowed to apply its laws of conduct in other states, a single state will dictate policies in all others,” says Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts. “That will encourage a patchwork of regulations and threaten the free flow of interstate commerce.” The brief before the Supreme Court says, “If Prop 12 freely permits California to impose regulations directly on out-of-state commercial conduct and thereby fosters inconsistent state regulatory obligations, it enables tit-for-tat regulatory conflict.” They say the ultimate result may be a transformation of America’s current integrated national market into a patchwork of regulatory regions. The main question in the case is whether the U.S. Constitution permits California to extend its police power beyond its territorial borders by banning the sale of wholesome pork and veal products sold into California unless out-of-state farmers restructure their facilities to meet animal-confinement standards dictated by California.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 1, 2021 |


USDA Releases Prospective Planting, Grain Stocks Reports Producers intend to plant an estimated 91.1 million acres of corn in 2021, up less than one percent from last year, according to the Prospective Plantings report released by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. Planted acreage intentions for corn are up or unchanged in 24 of the 48 estimating states. Soybean growers intend to plant 87.6 million acres in 2021, up five percent from last year. If realized, this will be the third-highest planted acreage on record. Compared with last year, planted acreage is expected to be up or unchanged in 23 of the 29 states estimated. NASS also released the quarterly Grain Stocks report. Corn stocks totaled 7.70 billion bushels, down three percent from the same time last year. On-farm corn stocks were down nine percent from a year ago, but off-farm stocks were up five percent. Soybeans stored totaled 1.56 billion bushels, down 31 percent from March 1, 2020. On-farm soybean stocks were down 41 percent from a year ago, while off-farm stocks were down 22 percent. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy: To Decarbonize Transportation, America Must Turn to Biofuels  Following President Joe Biden’s announcement of a nationwide infrastructure package, Growth Energy says the plan overlooks the need to expand low carbon biofuels, like ethanol. The American Jobs Plan seeks to improve highways, bridges, ports, airports and transit systems. The plan also seeks to improve drinking water, the electric grid, and broadband. In total, the plan will invest about $2 trillion this decade. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “it’s disappointing” the American Jobs Plan doesn’t expand biofuels. Earlier this year, a new report from the Rhodium Group, found that biofuels are an essential element of the path to a net-zero future by 2050. However, the plan does call for $35 billion in research priorities, including offshore wind, biofuels and electric vehicles. And Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the plan "will help us rebuild our economy and rural communities.” Vilsack adds that the Department of Agriculture is central to President Joe Biden’s strategy to build a strong economy. ************************************************************************************ Biofuels Coalition Welcomes Amicus Briefs in Supreme Court RFS Case A coalition of farm and biofuels groups welcome a Supreme Court brief filed by U.S. states supporting the coalition's arguments in a case regarding small refinery waivers. The Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and American Coalition for Ethanol offered thanks to Iowa, Nebraska, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, South Dakota, and Virginia for filing the brief. HollyFrontier and other refiners are asking the Supreme Court to overturn the January 2020 appeals court ruling in which the court found EPA exceeded its authority in granting certain small refinery waivers. The brief from the states concludes that “the judgment of the court of appeals should be affirmed.” The coalition says, “As the filings make clear, the exemptions have had a devastating effect on rural economies and on the demand for all types of renewable fuels.” The coalition adds, “we are very grateful that these states and other renewable fuel and agriculture interests have stepped up to endorse the decision as well.” ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Introduce ACRE Act A group of House lawmakers Thursday introduced the Agriculture Civil Rights and Equality Act, or ACRE Act. The legislation would prohibit officials at the Department of Agriculture from discriminating or providing preferential treatment to any person on the basis of race, color, national origin or sex. The prohibitions would apply to USDA hiring, contracting, and programming, including programs administered by states, territories and universities using USDA funds. The bill comes just weeks after President Joe Biden signed a massive, partisan $1.9 trillion spending package into law that includes a $5 billion agriculture debt relief program earmarked exclusively for non-white farmers. Wisconsin Republican, Representative Tom Tiffany, says, “it is fundamentally unfair for the government to treat farmers differently based on immutable characteristics.” Utah Democrat, Representative Burgess Owens, adds, “I’m deeply concerned that Congress feels emboldened to perpetuate a modern-day form of racial segregation rather than provide relief to those who need it most.” ************************************************************************************ AFBF Opposes Elimination of Stepped-Up Basis and New Capital Gains Taxes at Death American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the organization objects to a proposal by several lawmakers to tax unrealized capital gains at death and roll back the stepped-up basis on those capital gains. Duvall says, “Taxing capital gains when a loved one passes away would have a devastating impact on farm and ranch families.” Even more so, Duvall says, if the stepped-up basis tool is taken out of the toolbox. Stepped-up basis encourages families to grow their businesses and pass them on to another generation, and elimination could force those families to sell their farms just to pay the taxes. The value of many farms is tied up in land and equipment. AFBF says cash flow on most farms is much too small to pay large capital gains taxes. Farm Bureau says these taxes would cause further consolidation in agriculture, with small farms more likely to be forced out of business by the tax liability. ************************************************************************************ PMA, United Fresh, Announce Agreement to Form Combined Trade Group Leaders of the Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association have reached an agreement to create a new global trade association. The agreement will combine the two groups. The two associations will continue to operate as independent organizations through 2021, with the new association to be launched January 1, 2022. A United Fresh spokesperson says, ”This agreement reflects the ongoing commitment of both associations to deliver the highest level of value to members.” Over the past several months, PMA CEO Cathy Burns and United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel have worked with a group of Board leaders from each association to develop the strategic commitments for the new association. The new association will be led jointly by Burns and Stenzel as Co-CEOs throughout 2022. After that time, Burns will become the sole CEO. Over the coming months, Burns and Stenzel will work with their staff teams and Board leaders to build out the new organization.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 1, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Some Hope for Ag Worker Program Bloomberg is reporting this week that a bill that would create a program to allow agricultural workers to earn legal immigration status has the potential to break through a partisan logjam in the Senate — if it is revised to address some “GOP concerns.” The Farm Workforce Modernization Act which passed the House earlier this month, would overhaul the immigration system for farmworkers and alter the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program, cementing a stable workforce for employers and more protections for laborers. “The bill has a lot of merit. I think there's an opportunity to improve it yet,” said Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas, the top Republican on the Senate subcommittee that oversees conservation, climate, forestry, and natural resources matters. “I support the overall concept, but it needs some tweaks,” he said at the Capitol last week. Backers of the legislation also would have to bring on board Republicans who see a greater priority in stemming the growing numbers of immigrants coming over the border with Mexico, Bloomberg said. Most of the nation's roughly 2.4 million farmworkers are undocumented according to administration estimates — a problem for them, as well as for the farms and dairies that often struggle to find workers. “If this bill becomes law, these workers can avoid the lingering fear of deportation or their children's concern about whether their parents will come home from work each night,” said Janet Murguia, president and CEO of UnidosUS, a Latino civil rights organization. The House passed the measure spearheaded by Reps. Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., on March 18 with 30 Republicans voting in favor — a wider margin of GOP support than for the American Dream and Promise Act that passed the same day. Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, plan to introduce the bill's companion, with Bennet optimistic more Republicans will sign on to fix systemic flaws in the farmworker immigration system. Republicans and Democrats who recognize the system's problems introduced a bill in 2019 that was passed by the House but died in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Industry groups, such as the United Fresh Produce Association, say reforms have been needed for decades. Kam Quarles, CEO of the National Potato Council, points to the Democratic-controlled Senate and White House as reasons the reintroduced bill could fare better this year — along with lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic. In its current iteration, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would give agricultural workers and their spouses and minor children a path to gain legal status through continued employment, with a path toward a green card. It would offer as many as 20,000 H-2A visas annually for three years for year-round agricultural employers, such as those in the dairy industry. The White House backed Lofgren and Newhouse's version of the bill. Many farm and food trade groups, including the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, also support the legislation. “Passing this bill would give these farm workers the chance to earn legal status and bring more certainty to farming operations across the country,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, D., Ill., said. He urged the Senate to join the House in taking up the measure. Several farm-state Democrats point to a need for immigration system changes with the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, calling for “efforts to fix the system, including creating a pathway to citizenship for individuals and addressing inequities in guest worker programs.” However, top Republican senators are mixed on the legislation. Senator Crapo doesn't back the House version, press secretary Melanie Lawhorn said, adding that he and Bennet are working to put finishing touches on their own language. House Agriculture Committee ranking member Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., who voted for the original bill, suggested revisions, such as extending the time period required as an agricultural employee to maintain visa status and cutting a provision that would include H-2A workers under U.S. federal law that protects some workers with set employment standards. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., an Agriculture Committee freshman, plans to discuss the bill and weigh support for it at the Alabama Farmers Federation, his state's largest farm organization. “I told them, when I got on this committee, I'm going to bring everything to them,” he said at the Capitol. “I think they'll be pretty strong with it.” However, Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee ranking member John Boozman, R-Ark., doesn't see an immediate future for the measure. Republicans have criticized the Biden administration over its immigration policies as migrants—especially unaccompanied children—continue to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border. “Now is not the time to take up this bill given the ongoing crisis at our southern border,” he said. “Our discussions on immigration must focus on ending the humanitarian crisis and securing the border before we move any other legislation that pertains to this issue.” So, we will see. Immigration continues to be among the hottest of hot button issues, although producers who depend on seasonal labor do provide a strong basis of support. The issue is clearly one producers should watch closely as it is debated Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 1, 2021 |


USDA Sets WHIP-Plus Closeout Deadline USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) has set April 16 as the deadline to have all Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program-Plus (WHIP-Plus) applications finalized and approved for payment, effectively the closeout for the program. A signup deadline of October 30, 2020, was set for the program relative to 2018 and 2019 losses, and the April 16 date now marks a deadline for county FSA offices to have those applications finalized.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 1, 2021 |


Vilsack Signals TPA Renewal Request Coming There has been little from the Biden administration on the prospect for renewing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), but USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday made clear the administration will seek its renewal. Renewing TPA is “the only way, eventually, for us to have trade agreements that create that balance,” Vilsack said, noting there was a “very delicate balance” needed on several issues in a trade agreement. “So I'm hoping that Congress, during the course of this year, begins to get serious about resuming and extending Trade Promotion Authority, which will then give us the opportunity to complete negotiations.” Under TPA, an administration can negotiate trade deals and present them to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no amendments. Vilsack said at an event organized by the Virginia governor's office that it was a key for U.S. trade policy ahead since it prevents there from being “535 new negotiators” on trade deals—the 100 members of the U.S. Senate and the 435 House members. Vilsack also focused on enforcement of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in his remarks, noting the coming Mexican restrictions on imports of GMO corn. However, last week Vilsack noted that the coming rules in Mexico would not apply to corn imported by the country for feed use, but only that destined for human consumption. As for a U.S.-UK or U.S.-European Union (EU) trade deal, Vilsack stressed the need for a “science-based” set of trade rules. The British Ambassador to the U.S., Dame Karen Pierce, also addressed the meeting, noting their exit from the EU will potentially ease up the ability of the reaching a trade deal with the U.S. While not signaling a shift on GMOs, Pierce did state she believed that gene-edited products should be treated differently and not regulated like GMO crops. “We've requested public input on a possible change to regulations,” she noted. This appears to mark some of the first comments from the Biden administration on TPA and its renewal as the current authority expires in July.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 1, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. ISM's index of U.S. manufacturing for March is set for 9 a.m., followed by natural gas inventory from the Energy Department at 9:30 a.m. A monthly Fats and Oils report from NASS at 2 p.m. includes the soybean crush for February. U.S. futures markets are closed Friday. Weather With a front moving off the East Coast, quiet conditions are expected across the primary growing regions for Thursday, though there are some lake-effect snow showers in the eastern Great Lakes. Temperatures will be below normal for most of these areas as well. Temperatures below freezing Thursday morning and Thursday night could produce some light damage to vulnerable winter wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 31, 2021 |


Farmers Satisfaction with Inputs Has Room for Improvement A recent report from Biome Makers finds 84 percent of farmers have not found an input product yet that they find completely satisfying. The report, 2021 Trends and Challenges in Agriculture, is based on a survey conducted at the beginning of the year among nearly 100 farmers and agronomists worldwide. The report found ag-input satisfaction rates have ample room for improvement, and the costs of ag-inputs weigh heavily on farmers, as 39 percent selected ag-inputs as one of their top two major operation costs. According to the study, sustainable practices are increasingly being embraced and implemented by farmers. Cover crops, in particular, are one of the top sustainable management practices that 45 percent of farmers expressed a willingness to adopt. Climate change continues to be a considerable challenge this season, causing a variety of issues for 68 percent of farmers. However, only about a third of them have reported any involvement in carbon farming initiatives. ************************************************************************************ Iowa State Releases Custom Rates Costs Survey Iowa State recently announced results of the 2021 Iowa Farm Custom Rate Survey. The survey covers the amounts charged and paid for common crop and livestock services in the state. Tillage, planting, harvesting, manure hauling and livestock transportation are all included. Compared to last year, most custom rates saw a decline except for the cost of farm labor. The cost of combining corn ranged from $22 to $45 per acre, with an average of $35.10 per acre. The cost of combining soybeans ranged from $22 to $46 per acre, with an average of $34.20. The cost to mow hay ranged from $8 to $15 per acre. The average cost for baling small square bales was $.59 per bale, $9.35 for large square bales, $10.80 for large round bales without wrapping, and $13.20 for large round bales wrapped. Meanwhile, 14 percent of the respondents perform custom work, 16 percent hire work done, and 45 percent indicated they do both. ************************************************************************************ AEM Welcomes Legislation to Create Executive Branch Manufacturing Post The Association of Equipment Manufacturers applauds legislation that would create the Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Policy in the Executive Office of the President. A bipartisan group of senators this week introduced the bill, called the Office of Manufacturing and Industrial Innovation Policy Act. AEM President Dennis Slater says the new proposed office “will help ensure America's global leadership in manufacturing.” AEM was the first industry group to call for the creation of a Chief Manufacturing Officer and the development and execution of a national manufacturing strategy. Last spring, equipment manufacturers called on the federal government to develop and implement such a strategy. U.S. equipment manufacturers represent one in eight manufacturing jobs in the United States and support 2.8 family-sustaining jobs, highlighting the need for the office, according to AEM. Slater adds, “We urge lawmakers in both parties to support this important legislation and increase our nation's global manufacturing competitiveness." ************************************************************************************ Interior Disburses Nearly $249 Million to Gulf States for Coastal Conservation The Department of the Interior Tuesday announced nearly $249 million in Fiscal Year 2020 energy revenues to the four offshore Gulf oil and gas producing states. Those states are Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. The funds, disbursed annually based on oil and gas production revenue, are used to support coastal conservation and restoration projects, hurricane protection programs, and activities to implement marine and coastal resilience. The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 created a revenue-sharing model for oil and gas-producing Gulf states to receive a portion of the revenue generated from oil and gas production offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. The act also directs a portion of revenue to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The announcement represents the second-largest disbursement since the department first began paying revenues to states in 2009. Since enacted, Interior has disbursed over $1 billion to the coastal states to further conservation efforts of critical coastal wildlife habitats. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Oscar Gonzales as Assistant Secretary for Administration The Department of Agriculture this week announced the appointment of Oscar Gonzales as Assistant Secretary for administration. Gonzales, nominated by President Joe Biden, previously served in the Obama administration in several senior positions with USDA, including Deputy Assistant Secretary for administration. He also served as the California State Executive Director for USDA's Farm Service Agency, where he oversaw FSA programs across 58 counties in the nation's largest agricultural producing state. His government background includes working for top California leaders, including Governor Gray Davis and others. Most recently, Gonzales served as Vice President for Government Relations, Western States, for Goldman Sachs. Before that, he was Vice President for Community and Government Relations for Aura Financial. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says Gonzales "has dedicated his life and career to fighting for underserved and marginalized communities." Vilsack says Gonzales will help USDA ensure equity across the department. Prior to serving in government, Gonzales worked with various nonprofit organizations. ************************************************************************************ Alltech ONE Ideas Conference returns virtually in 2021 Alltech’s global agri-food conference, the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference, returns virtually on May 25–27, 2021. Now in its 37th year, Alltech’s flagship event is an industry resource, with innovative ideas, inspiration and motivation from world-class speakers. The virtual platform provides on-demand tracks, streaming keynote presentations and live Q&A chats with select speakers. And this year, it will also offer an interactive networking experience, allowing attendees to connect with their peers from around the world. This year’s virtual event features sessions that will uncover the challenges and opportunities in the aquaculture, beef, business, crop science, dairy, equine, health and wellness, pet, pig, and poultry sectors. Each May, the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference typically attracts over 3,500 attendees from more than 70 countries to Lexington, Kentucky. In 2020, the event transformed into the Alltech ONE Virtual Experience and brought more than 21,500 registrants from 126 countries together online. Registration for the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference is now open at one.alltech.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 31, 2021 |


Washington Insider: GOP Senator Probes San Francisco Fed Research on Climate, Race The Hill is reporting this week that the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee asked the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco to explain several recent research bulletins and seminars on racial economic disparities and climate change. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., asked Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Fed, to provide a briefing and a decade of records related to the reserve bank's economic research activities. “The Federal Reserve may pursue mission creep or welcome itself to political capture. But such activities are inconsistent with its statutory responsibilities,” Toomey argued. The San Francisco bank is one of the Federal Reserve system's 12 institutions, each responsible for conducting monetary and regulatory activities within a certain U.S. region. Each reserve bank is responsible for bank supervision and examination, lending to financial institutions, operating Fed services and reporting on the unique business environment and development within its respective district. The Fed system is funded with fees paid by banks and contributes billions of dollars annually to the Treasury. Reserve banks also publish economic research conducted by staff economists on a wide range of topics relevant to the Fed's mandate to foster maximum employment, stable prices and a secure banking system. Toomey argues, however, that “a sizable portion” of San Francisco Fed research focuses “on matters unrelated to monetary policy and how these impact narrow subgroups of people.” He specifically cited two San Francisco Fed blog posts on racial equity and a series of virtual seminars on the climate-related economic issues hosted by the bank. The San Francisco Fed has also published recent research on capital flow surges, the economic impact of school closures, inflation, community bank resilience and differences between the U.S. and other advanced economies in recovering from the COVID-19 recession. While Toomey criticized research from other reserve banks, he wrote that the “seemingly sudden and alarming inclusion of social research” at the San Francisco Fed “risks being of a bitterly partisan nature” and warranted a probe from the Banking panel. He asked Daly to provide a briefing for Banking Committee staff, all records related to the San Francisco Fed's climate seminar series, all documents related to climate change and racial justice research dating back to July 1, 2019, and 10 years of reserve bank's annual expenses on research and community outreach. “We have received and are reviewing Sen. Toomey's letter, and we look forward to discussing the contents with Sen. Toomey's office," a spokesman for the San Francisco Fed said. The Hill said that Toomey's letter “opens another front in the battle between Republicans and the Fed over the central bank's growing focus on climate change and other social issues GOP lawmakers consider irrelevant to its mission and Democrats consider essential.” Republicans have fiercely criticized the Fed for creating committees and investing in research related to the potential climate-related risks facing the banks it supervises. The Fed also has joined a global network of central banks and financial supervisors focused on climate change. Fed leaders have insisted that the bank will play no role in setting climate policy for the U.S., but rather focus on how climate change effects bank supervision. Even so, Republicans fear the bank could eventually steer credit away from certain energy sources — something the Fed has ruled out ever doing. Toomey and GOP lawmakers have also blasted moves toward climate and diversity policy from the Treasury Department and Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has faced intense blowback from Republican lawmakers after declaring climate change “an existential threat” that required action from the department. She has also opened the door to fiscal and regulatory policy designed to limit carbon emissions, but has not explained what form that would take. Gary Gensler, Biden's pick to lead the SEC, also irked Republicans when he voiced support for tougher climate, diversity and political spending disclosure rules for publicly traded firms. In fact, there is considerable intense debate over a number of Congressional and executive research topics—as well as Democratic interest in using the Congressional Review Act to overturn controversial Department of Health and Human Services rules passed in the final days of the Trump presidency. Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., on Monday introduced a resolution of disapproval over the HHS "sunset" rule, which requires all 18,000 agency regulations to be reviewed every 10 years, or else they expire. However, provisions of that are available for only the first 60 legislative days of the new Congress and would end likely sometime in April. The resolution currently has no Senate co-sponsors. The CRA was a legislative tool favored by Republicans in the early days of the Trump administration and was used to strike down 14 regulations from the Obama era. But Democrats have been more reluctant to use it, partly due to concern over statutory language in the CRA that blocks the relevant agency from crafting another rule that's substantially similar. So, we will see. Clearly the administration and the Congress are interested in implementing changes, including prominently program changes to cut back on climate change—important proposals that should be watched closely as they are considered, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 31, 2021 |


WH Group Cites Illegal ASF Vaccine Use As Factor Tempering Chinese Hog Herd Expansion The use of illegal African Swine Fever (ASF) vaccines in 2020 was a factor which tempered the efforts to rebuild China's hog herd, according to the Ma Xiangjie, president of Henan Shuanghui Investment and Development, WH Group's domestic unit. In remarks to reporters after the release of WH Group annual earnings, Ma said commented on impact of illegal vaccines. “Since the second half of last year some pig producers in China, especially south of the Yangtze river, used some immature pig vaccines and caught African Swine Fever again," said Ma. The WH Group processed 46% of its hogs in China in 2020 compared with 2019 due to tight supplies, Ma, noted, with capacity utilization at its plants reduced to 30%. But imports of 700,000 metric tons of pork, beef and poultry helped make up with shortfall, with 70% of the imports coming from the U.S. Ma said the firm's Chines hog price forecast has been raised due to the impact from “toxic vaccines” and said the company was expecting 2021 meat imports rise as the firm was working to expand the range and volume of products from the U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 31, 2021 |


US Has Suspended Trade Relations With Myanmar The U.S. suspended trade relations with Myanmar after soldiers and police backing the military coup there killed more than 90 people. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Monday the U.S. was reviewing trade benefits for the country under the now-lapsed Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). The U.S. imported slightly more than $1 billion worth of goods from the country, including around $621 million of apparel and footwear.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 31, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:15 a.m. CDT Wednesday, the private firm, ADP, will have an estimate of U.S. payrolls for March, an early hint for Friday's unemployment report. The U.S. Energy Department will have a report on weekly inventories at 9:30 a.m. USDA's Prospective Plantings report and March 1 Grain Stocks are set for 11 a.m. CDT. As usual, the latest weather forecasts and any trade news will also be noticed. Weather A cold front situated across the Delta and Midwest will move southeastward with moderate scattered showers on Wednesday. Behind the system, temperatures are falling well below normal, inducing some freeze potential for portions of the Plains through Thursday morning and the eastern Midwest and Southeast through Friday morning. Temperatures will be on a rising trend thereafter. This could briefly affect vulnerable winter wheat, but the short duration should not have a profound impact.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 30, 2021 |


Consumers Plan Record Spending on Easter Consumers plan to spend an average of $179.70 this Easter, the highest figure on record, according to survey results released by the National Retail Federation. A total of 79 percent of Americans will celebrate the holiday and spend a collective $21.6 billion, down slightly from last year's pre-pandemic forecast of $21.7 billion. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says, "There is a lot of momentum heading into the Spring and holiday events like Easter." The momentum is fueled by positive trends in vaccinations and growing consumer confidence. Easter gifts, food and candy are the biggest drivers of growth this year. Consumers plan to spend an average of $31.06 on gifts, $52.50 on food and $25.22 on candy. As more and more individuals become vaccinated, consumers plan to celebrate in ways they might have missed last year due to COVID-19. Consumers plan to celebrate by cooking a holiday meal, visiting with family and friends, planning an Easter egg hunt or attending church. ************************************************************************************ Fertilizer Prices Up Dramatically Fertilizer prices are up dramatically this spring, increasing input costs for growers. Data from the Department of Agriculture shows prices are up between 17 and 57 percent since the fall. David Widmar of Agricultural Economics Insights says that while nitrogen often gets the most attention, phosphorus prices are up the most. Anhydrous ammonia and urea are up 37 percent from the fall, but considerably smaller increases over Spring 2020. Meanwhile, liquid nitrogen prices are only up nine percent over last year, but 20 percent higher than last fall. The increase in fertilizer prices means fertilizer expenses are up $29 per acre than last spring, or 30 percent higher. However, Widmar notes, the increases follow a strong downturn a year ago, adding prices are up from historic lows and, for the most part, remain well below the levels of 2011-2014. The exception, however, is phosphorus fertilizer, up 51 percent compared to last fall. ************************************************************************************ Interior Joins Government-Wide Effort to Advance Offshore Wind The U.S. Interior Department is part of the Biden Administration's effort to boost renewable energy, including offshore wind generation. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland joined leadership of Energy, Commerce and Transportation at a White House forum Monday on the topic. The event included a commitment to establish a target to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, creating nearly 80,000 jobs. At the forum, leaders discussed key opportunities and challenges to ensuring domestic economic and employment benefits of aggressively expanding offshore wind. Interior announced the final Wind Energy Areas in the New York Bight – an area of shallow waters between Long Island and the New Jersey coast to identify the offshore locations that appear most suitable for wind energy development. Additionally, the department is initiating the environmental review of the third commercial scale offshore wind project by announcing a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Ocean Wind, LLC’s proposed project offshore New Jersey. ************************************************************************************ USDA Restricts PACA Violators from Operating in the Produce Industry The Department of Agriculture Monday announced sanctions on five produce businesses. The sanctions are in response to the businesses failing to meet obligations to the sellers of produce they purchased and failing to pay reparation awards issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act, or PACA. The sanctions include suspending the businesses’ PACA licenses and barring the principal operators of the businesses from engaging in PACA-licensed business. The businesses are Urban Fresh Produce of California, Sunrise Produce of Maryland, PFI Express and Temple Turmeric of New York and Eli Gonzalez Distributors of Texas. PACA provides an administrative forum to handle disputes involving transactions, which may result in a reparation order that requires damages to be paid by those not meeting their contractual obligations in buying and selling fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. By issuing these penalties, USDA continues to enforce the prompt and full payment for produce while protecting the rights of sellers and buyers in the marketplace. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Taper Off The national average price of gas and diesel fell for the second straight week, after a constant rise to start the year. GasBuddy reports the national average price of gasoline fell 2.7 cents to $2.84 a gallon, with diesel prices down 1.2 cents to $3.08 a gallon. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, "increases have largely tapered off, and we're now seeing decreasing prices in most areas of the country, thanks to oil prices that have moderated for the time being." However, demand is rising. According to a new dataset released by GasBuddy, U.S. gasoline demand continued to rise for the week ending March 27, as Americans continued to get outside amidst better conditions and fewer travel restrictions. National gasoline demand rose 1.95 percent. Weekly gasoline demand last week again set another new pandemic high, rising to just three percent above the last pre-pandemic figures from mid-March 2020, but still stand down several percentage points from what would be considered normal for late March.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 30, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Watching for Signs of Recovery Bloomberg is expecting more political fireworks this week as the Biden administration reveals some of the main elements of its coming infrastructure plan. President Joe Biden is expected to describe the “scope and ambition of his plans to expand and reorient the U.S. government, setting the stage for a bitter fight on Capitol Hill that could define his presidency.” Bloomberg said it expects the president will unveil the framework for a major infrastructure-and-jobs program Wednesday in Pittsburgh. Later this week he is expected to offer the first glimpse of his 2022 budget — which promises to redirect federal funds to areas such as climate change and health care. The announcements will include the first concrete details of the administration plan to overhaul federal spending, in a sales pitch without the immediacy of the pandemic emergency that he had for his first package. To succeed, it will have to convince the public and lawmakers on a multi-trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure and social safety nets, along with a revamp of the tax code to help address funding needs and widening inequality, Bloomberg said. “Successful presidents — better than me — have been successful in large part because they know how to time what they're doing,” Biden said Thursday when asked why he was pursuing the massive spending package instead of other legislative priorities, such as gun control. Infrastructure is “the place where we will be able to significantly increase American productivity, at the same time providing really good jobs.” While Biden has made clear his plans will include tax-policy changes to help fund what aides have laid out as a roughly $3 trillion long-term program, how specific he'll be on Wednesday is uncertain. His budget plan also won't include a comprehensive breakdown about the agency-by-agency spending increases the administration is seeking. “What the American people will hear from him this week is that part of his plan, the first step of his plan towards recovery which will include an investment in infrastructure,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, referring to plans for two separate proposals. “He's going to have more to say later in April about the second part of his recovery plan,” she added, which will include health care, childcare, and other social issues. They're “not quite at the legislative strategy yet,” and “the total package” is still being worked out,” she said. “But he's going to introduce some ways to pay for that, and he's eager to hear ideas from both parties as well,” she said. Bloomberg also says that a vehicle “miles traveled tax is no longer on the table as an option to pay for infrastructure projects.” After Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in an interview on Friday that a vehicle miles traveled tax “shows a lot of promise,” a spokesperson for the department countered his comment. “The Secretary was having a broad conversation about a variety of ways to fund transportation,” Ben Halle, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, said. “To be clear, he never said that VMT was under consideration by the White House as part of this infrastructure plan—and it is not.” In a political counter move by Democrats, Postmaster General DeJoy's 10-year plan for the USPS, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., on Friday introduced a bill that seeks to “ensure that the USPS maintains the 2-3 day standard delivery option,” the lawmakers said. The move came on the same day that the Postal Service filed a notice to its regulatory board seeking to push back the delivery time for priority mail and change the classification of printed materials to competitive products. The Postal Regulatory Commission will review the changes before they are scheduled to take effect, Bloomberg said. So, we will see. The administration's antivirus efforts and its new economic proposals are still big news items with the capacity to provide relief in the form of new jobs and economic growth — signs that are being watched closely as they appear, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 30, 2021 |


Vilsack: Mexico GMO Restrictions Won't Affect Feed Asked how he will respond to Mexico's plan to stop importing genetically modified (GM) corn, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday that Mexico is only considering such a ban for corn used in human food products, not animal feed. He called the distinction a “big difference here to producers in the United States.” He has been in contact with his Mexican counterpart and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai on the GM corn issue, noting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) includes provisions for formal consultations, and, if needed, a dispute resolution process. However, he stressed, “we're not anywhere near there yet,” referring to invoking dispute settlement provisions of the trade pact. “We're just having these conversations.” Bottom line, Vilsack said, “It is important to distinguish between what Mexico is currently thinking about doing, and the fact that it's not going to have as great an impact it would if it was everything all at once, all right now,” referring to fears of a broader GM corn import ban. This appears to clarify a situation which has caused major concern on the potential for U.S. corn and soybean exports to Mexico to be affected.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 30, 2021 |


Vilsack Outlines Expectations On Climate Efforts USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said that climate-smart ag policies will include initial moves to harness existing conservation programs like the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). “Congress has basically authorized and approved up to [25] million acres to go into that program,” he explained. The data on what is currently in CRP is 20.8 million at the end of January, Enrolling an additional 4 million acres to meet the cap can “begin the process of addressing some of the challenges that we face” related to climate, he said. USDA may work with states to come up with ways to encourage farmers to enroll more marginal lands in CRP, potentially including additional incentive payments. A key will be ensuring a balance between promoting climate goals and not distorting markets in regions across the country, he added. For CRP and other USDA conservation programs, Vilsack said he hopes to focus them on climate-smart ag practices. “We need to provide incentives, we need to provide resources, we need to provide cost-share for all the activities that are currently taking place and see if we can expand them and build upon them.” Vilsack reiterated that harnessing carbon markets will be another focus and ensuring they serve the needs of farmers will be critical. “You can set up the prototype if you will, or the pilot, and then see how it works,” he said of an ag carbon bank, suggesting the move could tap extra funds from the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). Should the pilots prove successful “then we basically go back to Congress and say, 'How can we get this thing ramped up to a point where more and more farmers are participating?'”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 30, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Other than a report on U.S. consumer confidence at 9 a.m. CDT, there are no official reports on Tuesday's docket. Traders will examine the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sales news that might develop. Trading in grains will likely be quiet ahead of Wednesday's Prospective Plantings and Grain Stocks reports. Weather A cold front from the Great Lakes southwest to the Texas Panhandle will lead to variable temperatures and breezy conditions Tuesday. Precipitation will be minimal, with a few showers in the Texas coast area. Rain becomes more prominent in the eastern Midwest, Delta and Mid-South Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 29, 2021 |


EPA States Position on RFS Exemptions Before the Supreme Court The Environmental Protection Agency filed a brief with the Supreme Court last week that lays out its new position on the Renewable Fuel Standard. A DTN report says the brief covered EPA’s view of the scope and purpose of the RFS, stating that three refiners who received RFS exemptions in 2017 and 2018 didn’t qualify for them. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver ruled that the agency violated the law when it granted the exemptions during the Trump administration. The January 2020 ruling led biofuel groups to push the former administration to apply the ruling nationally. The EPA brief also says that few refiners would be eligible for extensions if the law is followed. The Trump EPA granted 88 small-refinery exemptions between 2016 and 2020. The Tenth Circuit Court remanded three exemptions granted to refiners in Oklahoma, Wyoming, and Utah. In February of this year, the Biden EPA reversed the previous administration’s course and sided with the Tenth Circuit Court’s ruling. Also in the Supreme Court brief, the EPA says the exemptions program was put into the RFS as a “bridge toward eventual compliance” for small refineries. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Hog Inventory Drops Two Percent The USDA says there were 74.8 million hogs and pigs on U.S. farms as of March first. The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report says that the number is down two percent from March 2020, and three percent lower than December first of last year. Among the other key findings, the USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service says of the 74.8 million hogs and pigs, 68.6 million were market hogs, while 6.21 million were kept for breeding. Between December and February, producers weaned 33.3 million pigs, down one percent from the same period a year earlier. U.S. hog and pig producers weaned an average of 10.94 pigs per litter between December and February of this year. Producers intend to have 3.07 million sows farrow between March and May of this year and 3.12 million sows farrow between June and August of 2021. Iowa hog producers have the largest inventory among the states at 23.8 million head. Minnesota was second with nine million head, and North Carolina was third at 8.5 million. To get an accurate measurement of the American swine industry, NASS surveyed almost 5,000 operators across the nation during the first half of March. The Quarterly Hogs and Pigs Report is available at www.nass.usda.gov. ********************************************************************************************** Sheep Industry Report Covers the Challenges and Positives in 2020 2020 was a year of ups-and-downs in the United States, and the sheep industry was no exception. COVID-19, major changes in processing, and changes in consumer behavior led to challenges for the U.S. sheep industry. However, there were also positives outlined in the 2020 Sheep Industry Review, a checkoff-funded report commissioned by the American Lamb Board and the American Sheep Industry Association. “COVID-19 made changes to the way U.S. consumers bought and consumed lamb last year,” says ALB Chair Gwen Kitzan. Commercial slaughter was down four percent last year when compared with 2019. Total sheep and lamb inventory decreased one percent to 5.2 million head. Leg, loin, and shoulder sales outpaced ribs. Weekly feeder lamb prices started off the year above 2019 ls but quickly dropped and stayed low through the summer before they rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2020. Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, the report estimates commercial lamb production will increase by three percent, and the year will bring a two percent increase in the commercial slaughter of American lamb. Imports will potentially drop as much as ten percent. Steady production, lower imports, and the lowest available supply since 2017 may set the stage for solid prices in 2021. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Corn Export Sales Jump Higher Corn sales to overseas buyers jumped higher over the seven days ending on March 18. The USDA says wheat and soybean sales declined during the same period. Corn sales totaled 4.48 million metric tons, up from 395,500 tons during the prior week. China was the big buyer at 3.89 million metric tons. South Korea was next with 353,300 metric tons, followed by Mexico in third place with 196,000 tons. Exports totaled just over two million metric tons, down seven percent week-to-week. Wheat sales dropped 12 percent week-to-week at 343,600 tons. That’s still 24 percent higher than the prior four-week average. Japan was the top wheat buyer at 118,800 metric tons, followed by South Korea’s 116,400 tons. Unnamed countries canceled shipments of just over 215,000 metric tons. Soybean sales were dismal at 101,800 metric tons, a 50 percent drop from the previous week and a 56 percent drop from the four-week average. Egypt was the top buyer with 109,700 metric tons. Unnamed destinations canceled purchases totaling 152,500 metric tons. Exports fell six percent week-to-week at 501,400 metric tons. ************************************************************************************ Report Highlights Need for Increased Ag Research Spending A new report says stagnant public funding for agricultural research is threatening the future vitality of U.S. food systems. That poses risks to farmer productivity and profitability, the steady supply of affordable food, and ultimately, global food security. The report is a joint effort from the Farm Journal Foundation and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The report highlights the vital importance of public funding for agricultural research and development. New innovations are crucial so farmers can increase their productivity and meet the rising global demand for food. The world population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, and food production will have to increase by 60-70 percent to meet the rising demand. While private-sector funding for agricultural R and D has been rising, U.S. public spending has been flat for the past ten years. “The U.S. has always been a leader in agricultural innovation, but we’re at risk of losing that advantage by falling behind the rest of the world in research and development,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. Tricia Beal, CEO of Farm Journal Foundation, says, “COVID-19 showed we need more research to deal with unexpected shocks and to find solutions that make our entire food system more resilient.” ********************************************************************************************** CCC Won’t Buy and Sell Sugar Under Feedstock Flexibility Program The USDA’s Commodity Credit Corporation won’t be buying and selling sugar under the Feedstock Flexibility Program for the 2020 crop year, which runs through September 30 of this year. The CCC is required by law every quarter to announce its estimates of sugar that the agency will purchase and sell under the Feedstock Flexibility Program based on crop and consumption forecasts. Federal law allows sugar processors to get loans from USDA with maturities of up to nine months when the sugarcane or sugar beet harvest begins. On loan maturity, the sugar processor may repay the loan in full or forfeit the collateral sugar to USDA to satisfy the loan. The FFP got created as an option to avoid forfeitures on sugar loans. If the USDA faces the likelihood of loan forfeitures, it’s required to purchase surplus sugar and sell it to bioenergy producers to reduce the surplus in the food use market and support sugar prices. USDA’s most recent WASDE report shows that the U.S. ending sugar stocks are unlikely to lead to forfeitures, so USDA doesn’t expect to buy and sell sugar under FFP for the crop year 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 29, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US Manufacturing Momentum Grows Bloomberg is reporting this week that American manufacturing “continues to pour on the momentum” as the first quarter draws to a close, despite some supply-chain woes and rising materials costs that are inflaming the inflation debate. Freshly released March data show that an increasing number of factory purchasing managers are reporting faster expansion, Bloomberg says. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's index of general business activity soared to an almost five-decade high, while the IHS Markit's preliminary gauge of U.S. manufacturing was the second-strongest in data back to 2007. Orders continue to grow as the economy gathers steam, while inventories of finished goods and stockpiles of materials remain lean, a combination that should fuel even quicker production growth in the months ahead, Bloomberg says. Yet, challenges remain. Producers are struggling with some bottlenecks in the form of shipping and port delays as importers battle over a limited number of available containers. Those strains existed even before a ship stuck in the Suez Canal last week raised more questions about the potential for future delays or price increases. What's more, steady demand and shortages of supplies needed to manufacture goods have sparked price pressures for inputs. In February, the share of manufacturers who signaled slower delivery times approached 50%, according to Institute for Supply Management data. Excluding the period that followed the nation's shutdown to control the spread of COVID-19, that's the largest share since oil imports from Iran were disrupted in 1979. Meantime, producers are paying up for everything from copper and aluminum to crude and iron ore. The latest Philadelphia, New York and Richmond Fed surveys highlight growing materials inflation that risks filtering through to higher prices of finished goods for households and businesses. Fed Chair Jerome Powell told lawmakers this week, however, that he views the current supply-chain bottleneck pressures on input prices as temporary. “We have been living in a world of strong disinflationary pressures, around the world really, for a quarter of a century,” Powell told the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday. “We don't think a one-time surge in spending leading to temporary price increases would disrupt that.” New York Fed President John Williams, in a Wednesday event, noted that “we're still about 9 million jobs lower than we were a year ago in the U.S. economy, so I think that that's going to keep inflation pressures pretty low for some time.” Recent manufacturing figures for March support Powell's forecast. While regional Fed prices received indexes have been increasing, they're not keeping pace with prices paid. The Richmond Fed's latest manufacturing survey showed the region's manufacturers aren't expecting much more room to raise prices on their products. Respondents said they expected prices received to rise an annualized 3.57% six months from now. That compares with the 3.52% increase they're currently receiving, the smallest difference in seven months. A March survey from the Kansas City Fed showed that while nearly half of manufacturing firms were able to pass through a majority of materials price increases, just 8% said they could fully pass them through. In the meantime, the press took a dark view of the impacts of last week's accidental blockage of the Suez Canal. NYT said the event “called into question the global reliance on globalization.” Of course, the ship involved is not just any vessel, it is one of the world's largest container ships, with space for 20,000 metal boxes. And the Suez Canal is not just any waterway. It is a vital channel linking the factories of Asia to the affluent customers of Europe, as well as a major conduit for oil. The fact that one mishap could sow fresh chaos from Los Angeles to Rotterdam to Shanghai underscored the extent to which modern commerce has come to revolve around truly global supply chains—and their fairly recent dependence on “so-called just-in-time manufacturing.” Some experts have warned for years that short-term shareholder interests have eclipsed prudent management in prompting companies to skimp on stockpiling goods. The report cited Ian Goldin, a professor of globalization at Oxford University who said, no one could predict a ship going aground in the middle of the canal, just like no one predicted where the pandemic would come from. Just like we can't predict the next cyberattack, or the next financial crisis, but we know it's going to happen.” The canal's blockage, he says, affects roughly one-tenth of the world's trade—and has intensified the strains on the shipping industry, which has been “overwhelmed by the pandemic and its reordering of world trade.” If the Suez remains clogged for more than a few days, the stakes likely will rise drastically. Ships now stuck in the canal will find it difficult to turn around and pursue other routes given the narrowness of the channel. Those now en route to the Suez may opt to head south and navigate around Africa, adding weeks to their journeys and burning additional fuel — a cost ultimately borne by consumers. And, whenever ships again move through the canal, they are likely to arrive at busy ports all at once, forcing many to wait before they can unload—an additional delay. “This could make a really bad crisis even worse,” said Alan Murphy, the founder of Sea-Intelligence. So, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding the implications of this accident—and what it might mean—and its implications for future US inflation. These are developments producers should watch very closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 29, 2021 |


EIA Details New Biofuel Information To Be Released The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said it will start publishing additional biofuels data in a monthly report to account for the increase in biofuel production. The report to be released March 31 will include expanded information on production capacity for biodiesel, fuel alcohol and renewable fuels along with expanded information on feedstocks used to produce those biofuels. Reuters previously reported the change was coming and could possibly be added to the WASDE report in May, the first 2021/22 forecasts from USDA.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 29, 2021 |


Vilsack Discusses China Phase One Progress While China is purchasing large amounts of many US ag commodities, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday (March 26) he thinks they could “be doing more” in some areas to meet their commitments under the US-China Phase One agreement. For corn, soybeans and many other commodities, Vilsack said China is “purchasing fairly significant amounts to the point where we're probably back to where we were pre-tariff and pre-pandemic.” However, China could ramp up imports of biofuels, distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) and dairy, Vilsack said during an appearance at the National Press Club. Beyond those products, he said “there's still work to be done on the relationship,” noting overall US ag market share in China “has suffered as a result of the trade and tariff war.” Asked whether there was the need for any additional trade aid for farmers, Vilsack said no, noting high commodity prices and the rapid clip of purchases by China.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 29, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets There are no official reports on Monday's docket, but some state NASS offices will offer winter wheat crop ratings at 3 p.m. CDT. As usual, traders will check the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has a new export sale announcement. Weather Dry, warm and very windy conditions will cover the Plains and western Midwest Monday. This combination is leading to widespread high wind and extreme wildfire warnings. Precipitation will be confined to snow squalls in the northern Rockies. Outside the wind and fire threat area, conditions will favor field drying and spring fieldwork.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 26, 2021 |


Farm Groups Welcome USDA Pandemic Relief Agriculture groups applaud the Department of Agriculture for this week’s announcement of plans to distribute more than $12 billion under the Pandemic Assistance for Producers. The funding includes $6 billion to develop new programs or modify existing proposals using remaining discretionary funding from the Consolidated Appropriations Act. Another $5.6 billion will be directed to formula payments to cattle producers and eligible flat-rate or price trigger crops. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “We appreciate Secretary Vilsack’s action to release funds and expand eligibility for farmers hit.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “This sensible approach will help reach farmers who have previously been excluded from relief programs and keep them in business.” The aid programs include biofuels, previously excluded from relief packages. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, “Secretary Vilsack’s announcement that aid is on the way is a light at the end of the tunnel.” Sign-ups for the new program begin April 5, 2021. ************************************************************************************ NCBA: Grassley Bill Not Solution Industry Needs Senator Chuck Grassley this week introduced legislation to address transparency in the cattle market. The Iowa Republican, along with a bipartisan group of Senators, says the bill intends to foster efficient markets while increasing competition and transparency among meatpackers who purchase livestock directly from independent producers. This bipartisan bill will require that a minimum of 50 percent of a meat packer's weekly volume of beef slaughter be purchased on the open or spot market. However, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association does not approve of the legislation. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, “simply put, Senator Grassley’s bill misses the mark.” NCBA says any legislative solution to increased price discovery must account for the unique dynamics within each geographic region. United States Cattlemen's Association President Brooke Miller commended Grassley for introducing the bill. USCA says the '50-14’ or spot market bill, follows legislation already supported by USCA, the Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021. ************************************************************************************ Business and Ag Groups Urge Rollback of Section 232, 301 Tariffs The National Foreign Trade Council this week re-launched the Tariff Reform Coalition. The coalition is a broad alliance of business and agriculture groups substantially harmed by the import tariffs imposed by the previous Administration. The group urges the rollback of Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs, saying the tariffs "are causing serious damage to those already struggling.” The coalition says the Biden administration needs to reassess the Section 232 and 301 tariffs, and Congress should hold hearings to see if the tariffs are achieving their objectives. The coalition says tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum should be removed, and use of other trade laws more consistent with the WTO should be considered to address the issue of overcapacity. The coalition includes the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Pork Producers Council, Farmers for Free Trade and others in the agriculture sector. The coalition made the requests in an advocacy document directed at the Biden administration and Congress. ************************************************************************************ Farmers for Free Trade Announces New Board Members Farmers for Free Trade Thursday announced five new Board members. Farmers for Free Trade is a coalition supported and comprised of America’s leading ag organizations and businesses. The new board members include Michael Anderson, trade and industry relations Vice President at the Corn Refiners Association, and Iowa corn farmer Bob Hemesath, a National Corn Growers Association member. Additionally, Angela Hofmann, co-founder of Farmers for Free Trade and Lauren Sturgeon, CoBank Government Relations Director, and Maria Zieba, National Pork Producers Council International Affairs Director, joins the board. Sara May, former President of Farmers for Free Trade, has retired from the board. Steve Noah, President of Farmers for Free Trade, says, "We're pleased with the diversity of interests on the Board of Directors." Brian Kuehl, Farmers for Free Trade Executive Director, says the new members have all built careers that reflect the organization's central mission to help deliver economic opportunity for American agriculture. ************************************************************************************ Anhydrous Ammonia Tank Recovered from Missouri River Federal, state, and local response agencies worked together last weekend to recover an anhydrous ammonia tank floating in the Missouri River. Recovered near Jefferson City, Missouri, the 1,500-gallon tank, including its wheeled chassis, was seen floating downstream last Friday. Given the tank contained anhydrous ammonia, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources requested Environmental Protection Agency’s support with recovery and disposal. The river was at flood stage Friday, and the EPA secured and recovered the tank Saturday. The tank was found intact and not leaking. A Missouri DNR representative says, “Without the collaboration from all teams, removing the tank from the Missouri River would not have been as successful.” Missouri Farmers Association, known as MFA, agreed to store the tank at its location in Jefferson City. The Missouri Department of Natural Resources and MFA agreed to work together to find the tank owner. MFA will keep possession of the tank if no owner can be found.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 26, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Better Fish Food The New York Times is reporting this week on worries by the “world's foodies” over a potential “environmental mess” have eased some. The concern was that fish farms were gobbling up wild fish stocks, spreading disease and causing marine pollution. This week, some of the same experts who published that report issued a new paper concluding that fish farming, in many parts of the world, at least, “is a whole lot better.” The most significant improvement was that farmed fish were not being fed as much wild fish. In fact, they are eating more plants, such as soy meal. The study was highly sophisticated and synthesized hundreds of research papers over the last 20 years across the global aquaculture industry. The latest edition was published on Wednesday in the journal Nature. The findings are seen to have “real-world implications for nutrition, jobs and biodiversity,” the Times said. Aquaculture is a source of income for millions of small-scale fishers and revenue for fish-exporting countries. It is also vital if the world's 7.75 billion people who depend on fish and shellfish but want to avoid draining the ocean of wild fish stocks and marine biodiversity. This has led to concerns among some environmentalists about aquaculture's effects on natural habitats. The new paper found promising developments, but also lingering problems. And it didn't quite inform the average fish-eater what they should eat more of — or avoid. The report called the aquaculture industry “too diverse for broad generalizations,” according to Rosamond Naylor, a professor of earth systems science at Stanford University and the lead author of both the 2000 cautionary paper and the review published Wednesday. “The aquaculture industry includes over 425 species farmed in all sorts of freshwater, brackish water, and marine systems, so it doesn't make sense to lump them all together into a 'sustainable' or 'non-sustainable' category,” Naylor said. “It has the potential to be sustainable — so how can we ensure it moves in that direction?” Global aquaculture production has more than tripled in the last 20 years, producing 112 million metric tons in 2017, the most recent year for which statistics were are cited. China leads the way, producing more than half of all farmed fish and shellfish worldwide. Outside of China, Norway and Chile are big players, producing mostly farmed Atlantic salmon, while Egypt produces mostly the Nile tilapia. Most fish produced in Asia is consumed in Asia, meaning that it serves as an important source of protein for citizens of those countries. The study also found that the production of farmed seaweed and bivalves, like oysters and clams, had greatly expanded as well. That is perhaps the most encouraging news, because neither seaweed nor bivalves need extra food to reproduce. They filter nutrients from the water and, in turn, produce nutrition for human consumption. The study reported that freshwater aquaculture today accounts for 75% of farmed fish directly consumed by humans. Its most striking finding, though, concerns fish feed, the Times said, especially for carnivorous fish like salmon, which were traditionally fed lots of wild fish, like anchovies. Between 2000 and 2017, the study said the production of farmed fish tripled in volume, even as the catch of wild fish used to make fish feed and fish oil declined. Martin Smith, an environmental economist at Duke University who was not involved in the study, said the changes in aquaculture resulted partly from new regulations in some countries — rules in Norway, for instance, reduced the spread of sea lice in salmon farms — but mostly because the aquaculture industry had no reason to buy expensive wild fish feed once they had access to plant-based alternatives. “It was always in aquaculture's interest to reduce their most expensive ingredient,” said Smith, who teaches a class called “Should I Eat Fish?” “The language around aquaculture has been overly negative and overly pessimistic,” he thinks. “But also, the industry has gotten a lot better.” Still, problems linger, the authors of the latest study point out. Aquaculture needs better oversight to ensure that environmentally sustainable practices are followed and rewarded. Some countries need to better manage the use of antimicrobials in fish ponds to guard against drug resistant microbes. Aquaculture also remains vulnerable to extreme climate events and disruptions in global trade, such as those created by the coronavirus pandemic. And then there's the question of where the soy used for fish farming comes from. Pressure is mounting on the aquaculture industry to ensure that it does not source soy from deforested areas like the Amazon. “As is the case with all food systems, consumers must realize that there is no free lunch, but there are important choices that can be made with sufficient information,” Naylor said. So, we will see. Environmentalists are rarely happy with the way the world is going — and many would prefer totally plant based diets for more people, in spite of the extent that many of these products rely on manufacturing — and in spite of the frequent criticism that often surfaces for farmed fish. As a result, ag producers probably should be happy with the modest, if growing, areas of agreement recently observed and interpret those as possible future growth markets as they do tend to be, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 26, 2021 |


Administration, Groups Urge Supreme Court To Uphold Decision On Refinery Exemptions The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit which said EPA overstepped its authority when it granted small refinery exemptions (SREs) to three refiners for the 2016 compliance year. The court ruled the SREs should have only been made available to those refiners that had continuously received them previously. “By providing an initial, 'temporary' exemption that can be extended only under specified circumstances, Congress struck a sensible balance, giving small refineries time to develop compliance strategies while maintaining the ultimate goal of universal compliance,” the filing from the DOJ and EPA said. Filings by the Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) and others echoed that view, saying the law supports the court decision and that the SREs “siphon a significant portion of renewable fuel blending requirements” called for under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case April 27.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 26, 2021 |


USDA Announces New Payment Effort, Resumes Some CFAP Actions USDA announced a new Pandemic Assistance Program (PAP) and said that it has completed a portion of the review of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). USDA said the new effort will reach more producers and it will make at least $6 billion available for the new program. Signup for CFAP 2 will be reopened for at least 60 days starting April 5. The new effort will target payments to a host of ag and other sectors, including biofuels. Additional payments under CFAP 1 will be made to cattle producers, with more than $1.1 billion in payments, but additional payments to hog producers and contract growers remain on hold and are “likely to require modification,” USDA said.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 26, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, the U.S. Commerce Department releases U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending for February, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. Traders remain interested in the latest weather forecasts and any news of export sales. Concerns about rising coronavirus infections in Europe were a bearish influence on Thursday's soybean oil price. Weather Friday brings showers to the Great Lakes with an easing of dry conditions. We'll also see light showers in the Southeast after the volatile severe weather events of Thursday. During the weekend, periods of rain will cross the central Plains and the Midwest, with heavier rain in the eastern Midwest and Delta Sunday.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 25, 2021 |


AFBF: Agriculture Must Be Prioritized for COVID-19 Vaccine The American Farm Bureau Federation is urging the Biden administration to prioritize agriculture for the COVID-19 vaccine. In a letter sent to the administration Wednesday, AFBF President Zippy Duvall called for the elimination of barriers to vaccine access for America's farmers and farm workers. Duvall says, "This prioritization would ensure that planting, harvesting, processing, and distribution of human and animal food can continue to ensure our grocery shelves and food pantries remain stocked." The administration recently directed states to prioritize vaccines for teachers. AFBF's request that similar action be taken for agriculture is consistent with the recommendations of several medical and science groups, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While farmers and farmworkers in some states have been able to access the vaccine, AFBF says other states have not allowed food and agriculture workers priority access. Duvall asks the administration to "take additional action to eliminate any barrier to vaccine access for America's farmers and farm workers." ************************************************************************************ Farm Lending Pullback Continues Agricultural debt at commercial banks eased further at the end of 2020, and loan repayment problems moderated slightly, according to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. Research by the KC Fed released this week shows general improvement in the agricultural economy likely drove the pullback in farm lending activity and strengthened credit conditions. Higher crop prices and an influx of government payments in 2020 also contributed to stronger growth in deposits, which supported a sharp increase in liquidity at agricultural banks. Agricultural loan balances at commercial banks reached a five-year low in the fourth quarter and continued to shift toward farm real estate. Although the accumulation of farm debt remained higher than the average of the past ten years, the total value of farm loan portfolios fell five percent from the previous year. Moving forward, the research says the pace of lending to farmers may remain slower than in previous years, as 2020 government payments and recent strength in crop prices have improved borrower liquidity and farm balance sheets. ************************************************************************************ EPA Extends RFS Compliance Deadline The Environmental Protection Agency this week extended the compliance deadline for refiners to meet their Renewable Volume Obligations. EPA is extending the RFS compliance deadline for the 2019 compliance year and submission of reports for the 2019 compliance year for small refineries. The new deadlines are November 30, 2021, and June 1, 2022. EPA is also extending the RFS compliance deadline for the 2020 and the associated deadline for attest engagement reports. The new deadlines are January 31, 2022, and June 1, 2022. Finally, EPA is extending the attest engagement reports deadline for the 2021 compliance year to September 1, 2022. Following the Announcement, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor stated her organization is disappointed in the decision to agree to the deadline extension request by refiners. Skor says, “Refiners using COVID-19 as a pretext to attack the Renewable Fuel Standard is wrong, as biofuel producers were among the hardest hit by COVID-19.” ************************************************************************************ Equipment Manufacturers Report Positive Outlook for 2021 Equipment Manufacturers report a positive outlook for 2021, according to a new survey by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. The survey found 88 percent of manufacturers report a positive outlook for 2021, while more than half expect sales to increase or remain stable despite the ongoing impact of the global pandemic. The online survey was targeted to employees of AEM member companies and includes results from more than 130 respondents, including CEOs, vice presidents, and sales and operations leaders, among others. AEM President Dennis Slater says, “Equipment manufacturers have begun to turn the corner.” Looking at the biggest challenges facing company executives and the equipment manufacturing industry as a whole in 2021, respondents indicated that the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and keeping employees safe and on the job remain the top concerns, followed by finding skilled workers for new jobs being created. One in eight respondents said that COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on how they work. ************************************************************************************ Organic Valley Launches National Clean Energy Fund for Its Farmers Organic Valley is partnering with Clean Energy Credit Union to launch the Powering the Good Loan Fund. The fund seeks to provide the best loan terms for farmers seeking to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels with renewable energy and efficiencies. Organic Valley says the program is the first of its kind for both cooperatives, pioneering a unique clean energy loan fund for over 1,700 farmers across the country. To accelerate energy improvements, Organic Valley and Clean Energy Credit Union will roll out a $1 million fund with plans to expand. As the nation's largest organic, farmer-owned cooperative, Organic Valley pulls carbon out of the air through regenerative practices like rotational grazing, while also working to reduce carbon emitted wherever possible. Bob Kirchoff, Organic Valley CEO, says, “We are providing farmers a means to reduce their energy costs and become more self-sufficient and sustainable.” He says farmers who participate will contribute to a healthy, regenerative future for the next generation. ************************************************************************************ Farm Bureau Chief Economist Join Senate Ag Committee Staff Farm Bureau Chief Economist John Newton is joining the Senate Agriculture Committee staff. Newton will serve as Chief Economist for the Ranking Member John Boozman, an Arkansas Republican. Boozman announced the appointment of 15 staff members this week. The Senator says, “I am excited to move forward with this accomplished team.” AFBF President Zippy Duvall says, “Although I am sorry to see John go, I am also pleased to know he will serve in such an important role.” Before joining AFBF, he served as the chief economist for the National Milk Producers Federation. Newton holds a doctorate in agricultural economics and master’s degrees in macroeconomics and agricultural economics, all obtained at Ohio State University. Boozman also added Pam Miller as a Senior Professional Staff member. Miller previously served as the administrator of USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. And, Martha Scott Poindexter returns to the Committee as staff director for the Republican side. She had previously led the committee staff from 2005-2010.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 25, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Administration Begins Discussion on Water Infrastructure Bloomberg is reporting this week that the proposed Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 is beginning to be discussed in both chambers. It says that Senate proposals would invest more than $35 billion in water resource development projects across the country. A major target of the effort is to authorize two critical EPA programs—the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) — which provide financial aid to localities' drinking water systems and to state safe water programs, as well as loan financing and assistance for communities for a range of water infrastructure projects. The legislation would reauthorize the DWSRF at $2.4 billion in fiscal 2022, gradually increasing that amount to $3.25 billion in fiscal years 2025 and 2026 for a total of $14.7 billion. It would increase the minimum percentage of those too be aimed for “disadvantaged communities” from 6% to 12%. The CWSRF would be reauthorized at the same funding levels between fiscal years 2022 and 2026 as the DWSRF. The legislation also would re-up the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act through 2026 at the current funding level of $50 million per year. “Rebuilding our water infrastructure must be at the heart of the ongoing 'Build Back Better' efforts because we will have missed a huge opportunity to improve American lives if we only fix our roads, but fail to repair and upgrade the pipes beneath them,” said lead author of the bill Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill. The legislation “begins to bridge the growing gap in federal cost-share of water infrastructure,” wrote Adam Krantz, chief executive officer of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, in a letter to EPW leadership. “Overwhelmingly, the increasing costs of these essential public services are borne by local ratepayers – with no reliable safety net for households when costs are unaffordable.” On the House side, the Energy and Commerce and Transportation and Infrastructure panels both have jurisdiction over water issues. T&I Chairman Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., has unveiled legislation that would authorize $40 billion over the next five years for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund. House Energy and Commerce Committee Democrats have introduced a $300 billion infrastructure package that includes $51.6 billion to protect Americans' drinking water “by extending and increasing funding for the State Revolving Loan Fund and other safe water programs and providing substantial new funding for the replacement of lead service lines that threaten public health,” a committee fact sheet said. Even as Congressional majorities are beginning to discuss new projects, Republicans signaled they “aren't ready to engage in bigger infrastructure discussions.” Democrats say they hope for a bipartisan bill, but advocated for a broad definition of infrastructure that Republicans rejected. House Ways and Means ranking Republican Kevin Brady, Texas, said no Republican members in the committee joined “because Democrats over-politicized the infrastructure process.” Also this week, USDA said the government should be prepared to support prices farmers receive for carbon credits but “avoid setting up a federally run carbon market that would compete with nascent private markets.” Robert Bonnie, the department's main climate adviser, said a key way the agency can work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would be by making purchases to bolster prices of the credits, which farmers can sell for switching to practices that reduce emissions or sequester carbon. In addition, the Federal Reserve said it is planning to make climate change a major part of its Wall Street oversight by creating a new committee that will identify and respond to dangers from a warming planet to the financial system. The Financial Stability Climate Committee will be “charged with developing and implementing a program to assess and address climate-related risks to financial stability,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in a speech yesterday. Also, Idaho Republican Gov. Brad Little told a House Natural Resources subcommittee Tuesday that Democrats' efforts to protect federal land as wilderness and other designations “could prevent states from getting control of climate change-driven wildfires.” Little urged the Biden administration to “scale up” its management to deal with the effects of climate change by allowing workers to log forests to reduce the wildfire threat. Democrats, however, said land use changes from logging and oil and gas development are driving climate change and their impacts need to be considered in federal land decisions, including wildfire mitigation. At the same time, some Democrats are continuing to target fracking. Reps. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., plan to reintroduce a package of five bills to hold big oil and gas companies accountable to national standards for water and air protection. The measures would close the “aggregation exemption” written into the Clean Air Act for oil and gas activities, require increased regulation of waste from production activities, require an Interior study on stormwater runoff, repeal an exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act, and require testing of underground sources of drinking water in connection with fracking. So, we will see. Clearly, the Biden administration is taking concerns about climate change seriously, along with more limited threats to the environment. These are policies and proposals that producers should watch closely as the continue to emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 25, 2021 |


USDA To Pursue Rulemaking On RFID Tags USDA announced it will not finalize a plan put forth by the Trump administration to approve Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags as the official eartag for interstate movement of cattle, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will use the rulemaking process for future actions on RFID tags. APHIS said his means that all current approved ID methods can be used until further notice. The agency said they will “continue to encourage the use of RFID tags” while rulemaking is pending as they believe the tags provide the “best protection against the rapid spread of animal diseases.” USDA in July 2020 had issued a notice seeking public comment on making RFID the only ID devices approved for cattle and bison laying out a timeline of no longer allowing the official USDA shield to be used on metal or other tags that did not have RFID components starting January 1, 2022, and would make RFID tags the only official ID tags effective January 1, 2023.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 25, 2021 |


Vilsack Initial Discussion With China Counterpart Yields Little Fresh Information USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with Chinese Minster for Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian, with the two agreeing that it was “important” for the two sides to “work together and address areas of common concern.” A USDA spokesperson said that Vilsack did “raise concerns” about Chinese trade barriers, but provided no information on any specific issues that he raised. The two also discussed the “positive role agriculture can play in addressing climate change.” The two agreed to “discuss these issues further” in the future. As has been the case with initial readouts of discussions between U.S. and foreign officials early in the Biden administration, there are few details being offered about the specific issues raised and thus it is hard to determine what kind of progress, if any, may have been made. But these initial sessions are never expected to be ones where significant breakthroughs take place. If anything, they are more of a “meet-and-greet” effort to hopefully set the stage for detailed discussions or resolutions in the future.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 25, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday looks busy with USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, report on fourth-quarter U.S. GDP and the U.S. Drought Monitor all out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. At 9:30 a.m., the U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly report of natural gas inventory. USDA follows at 2 p.m. CDT with its quarterly report of hogs and pigs inventory. Weather forecasts and any fresh export sales will also be noticed. Weather Thursday features moderate to locally heavy rain in the Delta and Mid-South, along with periods of snow in the Northwest. Areas with rain will have field work disruptions along with a threat of flooding. Heavy rain potential moves into the eastern Midwest Thursday night. Dry northern areas will again be bypassed by precipitation.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 24, 2021 |


USFRA Announces Growing Commitment to Future of Agriculture U.S. Farmers and Ranchers in Action celebrated National Ag Day by announcing the growing list of companies, organizations and individuals who have joined the Decade of Ag. The program is the first sector-wide movement to align to a shared vision for the next decade centered around investing in the next generation of agricultural systems, restoring the environment, regenerating natural resources and in doing so, strengthening the social and economic fabric of America. USFRA CEO Erin Fitzgerald says, “These leaders are stepping up in action to collaborate for meaningful impact.” The shared Decade of Ag vision is for a resilient, restorative, economically viable and climate-smart agricultural system. The Decade of Ag vision was a two-year process finalized at USFRA's annual Honor the Harvest Forum in the fall of 2020. USFRA says the case for food and agriculture to become the first U.S. economic sector to become carbon negative is promising, but more collaboration, partnerships and investment are needed to accelerate progress and make a meaningful impact in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. ************************************************************************************ Pro Farmer Survey Predicts Record Corn and Soybean Acres A survey from ProFarmer predicts farmers will plant a record number of corn and soybean acres this year. The Pro Farmer/Doane survey revealed total area planted to crops in the U.S. is expected to rise to 319.4 million acres. That would be up nearly three percent, or 8.9 million acres, from 2020. If the survey findings hold true, it also means U.S. acreage will hit the highest level since 2018. The survey projects total corn and soybean plantings at a record 182.3 million acres, which would be up 8.4 million acres from last year. Total acres planted to corn, soybeans, wheat and cotton, are expected to rise 9.5 million acres from last year. USDA's 2021 Ag Outlook Forum in February provided an initial look at acreage. USDA's new chief economist, Seth Meyer, released projections showing the agency expects farmers to plant 90 million acres of soybeans this year and 92 million acres of corn. Combined, that would be a new record. ************************************************************************************ AFBF: U.S. Must Enforce Trade Agreements with Mexico The American Farm Bureau Federation and 26 other industry groups urge the Biden administration to enforce U.S. trade agreements with Mexico. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall states, “recent moves by Mexico to limit American imports and to undercut prices in the U.S. puts America’s farmers and ranchers at a competitive disadvantage.” In a letter, the groups ask Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai to tackle various trade issues with Mexico. On December 31, 2020, the Mexican government issued a Presidential Decree stating the intention to phase out the use of glyphosate and use of genetically modified corn for human consumption. The groups say that while the standing of the Decree is unclear and the scope is vague, the Decree creates a significant risk and uncertainty to trade of corn and corn products with Mexico. Other issues include dairy trade, organics, meat industry access and geographical indications and biotechnology approvals, among others. ************************************************************************************ New Report Details Connection Between Conservation Practices and Farm Profitability A new report from the Soil Health Partnership details the financial impact of conservation tillage and cover crop usage among Midwest corn and soybean growers. Titled Conservation’s Impact on the Farm Bottom Line, the project was done in collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund. Based on an analysis of farm operations, management practices and financial records, the project team identified three key takeaways. The first is conservation tillage reduces operating costs, resulting in higher net returns per acre among study participants. Meanwhile, cover crops can be part of a profitable farming system, especially as experience with the practice grows. Finally, success with conservation practices is optimized when farmers take a targeted, stepwise, tailored approach to implementation. The hope with this project, according to the National Corn Growers Association, is that analyses like this will encourage continued and expanded support for farmers, both technical and financial, as they transition to conservation practices in the future. ************************************************************************************ USDA Awards Over $11.5 Million to Help Small and Mid-Sized Farms The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced $11.5 million for research to ensure small and medium-sized farms become more profitable. Announced on National Ag Day, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the funding "will give these family farms the tools they need to be more sustainable, profitable and productive as they face agricultural and economic challenges. USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded 24 grants to 20 universities and organizations through their Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the nation's leading and largest competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. These research efforts focus on alternative crop enterprises, marketing, and scaling up fruit and vegetable production to overcome marketing constraints. By focusing on these key elements, USDA says small and medium-sized farm operators can increase their competitiveness in local markets and can provide greater access to food for their communities, something USDA says is extremely critical as we build back a stronger, more equitable food and farming system. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $266 Million to Improve Rural Communities Facilities The Department of Agriculture is providing more than $200 million for rural community services. USDA undersecretary for rural development, Justin Maxson, announced the funding Tuesday. USDA will invest 266 million to build and improve critical community facilities to benefit nearly three million rural residents in 16 states and Puerto Rico. This funding includes $156 million to support health-care-related improvements and emergency response services that will benefit nearly one million rural residents in nine states and Puerto Rico. Maxson says the funding will “spur community development and build sound infrastructure like hospitals and medical facilities to help rural America build back better and stronger.” Specifically, USDA is investing in 41 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. The assistance will fund a variety of essential community services, including emergency response vehicles and equipment. The investments are going to Alabama, California, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, South Dakota, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Puerto Rico.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 24, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Administration's Large-Scale Economic Plan Bloomberg is reporting this week that the White House is preparing to send to the president a large-scale economic plan that's “expected to make infrastructure and climate change its leading priorities.” The proposed programs are expected to include as much as $3 trillion worth of measures to include in the long-term economic investments that will follow the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill signed earlier this month. Infrastructure and climate change have long been described as major priorities in the proposals and new details show the administration is looking at some $400 billion for so-called green spending, according to persons involved in the effort. The plan also addresses investing in human capital, with tuition reductions proposed for minorities along with health care initiatives. Unlike the COVID-19 emergency-spending program, the longer-term proposals will feature a major revenue-raising effort. Bloomberg said increasing corporate taxes and rates for the wealthy are expected to be core components of what's set to amount to the biggest tax increases since the 1990s. The New York Times and Washington Post both reported earlier on White House discussions of the new investment program that Bloomberg says likely will be divided into two main components. The $3 trillion investment figure compares with economists' estimates that ranged of around $2 trillion to $4 trillion. Bloomberg noted that no final spending total has yet been decided on and $3 trillion is what will be presented for consideration at this time. In related news, Bloomberg said that the rich got richer in the U.S. last year, as wealth created by rebounding stock and real-estate markets skewed toward high earners. The richest 1% of households saw their net worth rise by some $4 trillion in 2020, meaning that they captured about 35% of the new wealth generated nationwide, according to the latest quarterly study of household wealth from the Federal Reserve. The poorest half of the population, by contrast, got about 4% of overall gains, Bloomberg said. Widening wealth gaps during the pandemic have become a key driver of Biden administration policy, cited by officials as reasons for the proposed tax increases on high-income groups. In the meantime, the administration is coming under increasing pressure to respond to a growing crisis at the border, with the surge of migrants fleeing Central America showing no signs of abating. In response to the new pressure, the president sent two top White House officials to Mexico and Guatemala this week for talks in his latest attempt to stem the flow of illegal migration. The trip comes as Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, wrote to the White House to urge the president to use his “full authorities” to respond to the “border crisis.” The letter argued that “immediate action” is needed to ensure there's enough space to house migrants and to improve the asylum process. Roberta Jacobson, the coordinator for southwest border affairs, and the National Security Council's Western Hemisphere Director Juan Gonzalez will meet with senior leaders in Mexico and Guatemala to “develop an effective and humane plan of action to manage migration,” NSC spokeswoman Emily Horne told the press. They plan to discuss ways to stop the migrants from traveling north to the U.S. border as well as strategies to address the root causes of the migration, such as corruption, violence and poor economic conditions in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. The surge has been increasingly embarrassing for the administration given its promises to liberal activists for a more humane immigration system. That pledge has come under increasing fire from conservatives – joined by some Democrats from border states – who are pressing the president for a firmer policy to deal with migrants seeking asylum. The influx of border crossings is especially pronounced among unaccompanied children and teenagers, creating a humanitarian predicament and political problems for the White House. President Biden said Monday that he plans to visit the U.S.-Mexico border “at some point” for a first-hand look at conditions. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said today said the U.S. has amplified warnings to people in Central America not to come, citing more than 17,000 radio ads aired in the region by the State Department. At the same time, she denied the situation amounts to a crisis. “Children presenting at our border who are fleeing violence, who are fleeing prosecution, who are fleeing terrible situations, is not a crisis,” she said. “We feel that it is our responsibility to humanely approach this circumstance and make sure they are treated and put into conditions that are safe.” Also this week, the recently confirmed U.S. Trade Representative held her first meetings with counterparts from the European Union and the UK, Bloomberg said. Participants are hoping they can resolve the dispute over subsidies to manufacturers Boeing and Airbus. Katherine Tai and European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis discussed “their strong interest” in resolving the dispute, Tai's office said. In a separate meeting with British Trade Secretary Liz Truss, Tai agreed to partner with the nation toward the same goal. The new administration's trade objectives have been dampened somewhat as a result of the recent fractious sessions with China in Alaska. Follow-up efforts have concentrated on reassuring investors in important sectors of the U.S.-China markets and downplaying potential long-term concerns. At the same time, it is clear that China is a major market for U.S. ag products and producers should watch those trends closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 24, 2021 |


USDA Increases SNAP Benefits With Funding From American Rescue Plan USDA on Monday announced a 15% increase in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits through September 2021, providing an estimated $3.5 billion to households experiencing food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was part of the American Rescue Plan. The 15% increase in SNAP benefits will provide about $28 more per person, per month, or more than $100 more per month for a household of four, in additional SNAP benefits. “We cannot sit by and watch food insecurity grow in the United States,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The American Rescue Plan brings help to those hurting the most due to the pandemic. It increases SNAP benefits so households can afford to put food on the table. It invests in working people and small towns and small businesses to get the economy back on track. And it makes the most meaningful investments in generations to reduce poverty.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 24, 2021 |


Ag Groups Press For Action On US-Mexico Issues Under USMCA U.S. ag and commodity organizations continue to press the Biden administration on agricultural trade issues with Mexico, calling for continued action on implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The groups highlighted several existing and emerging friction points in U.S.-Mexico ag trade relations, including actions related to biotech crops, organics, market access and enforcement of European Union (EU) geographic indications (GIs). The groups noted that biotech crop issues and Mexico's actions on glyphosate are significant issues and create “a significant risk and uncertainty to cross-border trade of corn and corn products.” The groups also noted that U.S. dairy market access to Canada remains an issue that needs to be addressed. The groups' letter came as newly installed U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai held virtual discussions with her Canadian counterpart on USMCA and other issues.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 24, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets A report on February U.S. durable goods orders is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT and don't be surprised if it is less than expected, as many reports for that cold February have been. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. and traders will check in on last week's ethanol production pace, in addition to the latest weather forecasts and export sales news. Weather Rain showers will cover much of the Great Lakes and portions of the eastern Midwest Wednesday. Snow showers will also occur in the far southwestern Plains along with portions of the Northwest. These occurrences continue the unsettled pattern over the central U.S. which will remain through the end of the week. The pattern turns drier during the six to ten-day period.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 23, 2021 |


FFA Students Share Ag Story for National Ag Day This week, students from around the country will be busy sharing the importance of agriculture. It’s all in celebration of National Ag Day, which is Tuesday, March 23. The day celebrates agriculture and provides an opportunity for those in the industry to share the importance of agriculture with a broader audience. The future of agriculture is strong, and this is evident in the many student-led agriculture organizations. This week, students from FFA, 4-H, Agriculture Future of America, and Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences will share information on the critical role agriculture plays in our culture and economy. An FFA news release says, “National Ag Day gives students from agriculture youth organizations the chance to work together and share the importance of agriculture and agricultural education with our national government leaders.” Students will also learn skills this week that they can use as they go forward in their lives and strengthen agriculture along the way. All this week, student leaders will work together virtually to discover how they can continue to be advocates for agriculture while telling the vital story of ag throughout the nation. For more information on those events, go to www.FFA.org. ********************************************************************************************** White House Proclamation on National Ag Day To celebrate National Ag Day on Tuesday, March 23, the White House issued a proclamation regarding the value of agriculture to the country. “We recognize the unique and irreplaceable value that farmers, ranchers, foresters, farmworkers, and other agricultural stewards have contributed to the nation’s past and present,” the White House says. America’s agriculture sector “safeguards our nation’s lands” through sustainable management; ensures the health and safety of animals, plants, and people; provides a safe and abundant food supply and facilitates opportunities for prosperity and economic development in rural America. “Over the last year, workers and other leaders across the ag sector have stepped up to ensure a stable food supply in the face of COVID-19 challenges,” the proclamation adds. “Farmworkers, who have always been vital to our food system, continued to grow, harvest, and package food, often at great personal risk.” The White House also says local farmers helped meet their communities’ needs by selling food directly to consumers. The White House notes, “These collective efforts helped get food to millions of adults and children in America when it needed food the most.” ********************************************************************************************** Rural Mainstreet Index Rockets to New High The Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index climbed above growth neutral for the fifth time in the past six months. The monthly survey of bank CEOs in a ten-state region dependent on agriculture and energy shows the index increased to its highest level since the survey launched in 2006. The overall index for March hit a record high of 71.9 from a solid February reading of 53.8. The index runs from zero to 100, with 50 representing growth neutral. Almost 70 percent of the bank CEOs said their local economy is expanding, while the rest say they’re in a state of little or no growth. “Sharp gains in grain prices, federal farm support, and the Federal Reserve’s record-low interest rates have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet economy,” says Dr. Ernie Goss of Creighton University. “Only three percent of the bank CEOs indicated worse economic conditions compared to the previous month.” However, Goss also admits that rural economic activity remains below pre-COVID levels. The farmland price index moved above growth neutral for the sixth-straight month. The March reading is 71.9, the highest level since 2012. The March farm equipment-sales index hit 63.5, the highest level since 2013. ********************************************************************************************** Utah Egg Producers to be Cage-Free by 2025 Another state will require egg producers to turn to cage-free production methods by 2025. Utah Governor Spencer Cox signed a bill last week that prohibits producers from confining hens in cages beginning on January 1 of 2025. It also requires farmers to provide amenities that allow egg-laying hens to exhibit their “natural behaviors,” such as hen perches, nest boxes, and scratching areas. Utah joins other states like Michigan, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, California, Rhode Island, and Colorado in eliminating cages. Josh Balk of the Humane Society says Utah’s law is part of a rapid industry shift toward cage-free production methods, noting that “nearly 30 percent of the industry is cage-free.” ABC TV in Utah says egg-laying hens can be raised in an indoor environment as long as they have enough room under the United Egg Producers’ Animal Husbandry Guidelines for U.S. Egg-Laying Flocks. Someone found in violation of the new law could face a fine of $100 per every written notice, regardless of the number of violations identified in the notice. The Humane Society also says Utah’s approximately five million hens will be able to “run around and stretch their legs in cage-free barns.” ********************************************************************************************** Railroads Combine to Form First “USMCA Rail Network” Canadian Pacific Railway and Kansas City Southern have come together in a merger agreement worth approximately $29 billion. The transaction has the unanimous support of both boards of directors. Following final approval from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, the transaction will form two railroads that create the first rail network connecting the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. The two railroad systems come together in Kansas City and will connect customers via single-network transportation offerings between points on CP’s system in Canada, the U.S. Midwest, and the U.S. Northeast, as well as points on the KCS system through Mexico and the Southern U.S. The two companies say their combined network’s new single-line offerings will deliver dramatically wider market reach for customers served by CP and KCS, provide new competitive transportation service options, and support North American economic growth. Additionally, the expected efficiency and service improvements should achieve meaningful environmental benefits. Mike Steenhoek (STEEN-hook), Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition, says it’s normal to have concerns about a merger like this. “It’s healthy to be concerned, given how past mergers and acquisitions resulted in a reduction of rail service access rates or increased rates among agricultural shippers,” he says. “However, there’s also little service overlap between the rail companies, which means this proposed merger may result in increased service options.” *********************************************************************************************** Soils Warming Across the Corn Belt The Corn Belt has seen warmer-than-normal temperatures in most of March. A Successful Farming article says the big questions are will soils be warm enough for on-time planting, and will there be enough soil moisture? Weather Trends 360 says mostly warmer trends through the end of March will likely help soils warm-up well through early spring. However, the occasional cold front shouldn’t be ruled out yet, with the biggest risk of short-term, below-normal temps in the Northern Plains and western Corn Belt. The bigger concern in this area is a shortage of rainfall that might continue. Weather Trends 360 says areas of below-normal rainfall are expected in parts of the Northern Plains and the western Corn Belt. The one good thing about the drier weather is the reduced risk of flooding in most of the Midwest. Recent heavy rains caused some flooding in the lower Missouri and Ohio River Valleys, but the overall threat for widespread flooding is very low.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 23, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Inflation Debate Intensifies Bloomberg is reporting this week that the idea that it is safe for governments to borrow and spend more money – so long as they can get hold of it cheaply, is attracting new attention. However, the report says that “as a guide to policy, the doctrine has a blind spot.” Because even after arguing the point for a couple of centuries, economists find it hard to pin down what drives long-run interest rates. “The greatest area of uncertainty in any forecast really concerns interest rates,” Laura Tyson, a senior economic adviser to the Clinton and Obama administrations. “The profession has not been great at timing either the direction or the amount.” Those are crucial questions as governments try to figure out how much it's safe to spend on pandemic recovery – and for investors wondering if this year's surge in sovereign-bond yields is a blip or the start of an important new trend. For years, estimates of future borrowing costs have tended to be too high – leading to projections of bigger debts and helping deter public spending. Some worry the opposite could happen now: politicians will grow complacent about low interest rates, borrow and spend too much, then get a nasty surprise when they spike. But there's a growing school of economic thought that says that governments and central banks play a bigger role in shaping interest rates than the mainstream acknowledges. This could mean that countries can turn their own borrowing costs into “policy choices,” instead of a price that gets discovered in the marketplace. It's not a new idea, says Paul McCulley, the former chief economist at Pimco. “The central bank has always had more power over long rates than the consensus thought,” he says. “They just weren't exercising it.” Now, they are – one way or another, Bloomberg says. The Bank of Japan has been explicitly targeting government borrowing costs for years, under a policy known as yield-curve control. Australia followed suit during the pandemic. But central bankers, often the main buyers of sovereign debt nowadays, have other ways to steer the yields without officially making them a policy tool. European Central Bank officials, for example, acknowledge off the record that they manage the cost of borrowing for euro-area governments via bond purchases, Bloomberg says. Sometimes the idea on its own is enough, says McCulley, who now teaches at Georgetown University. Once central banks acknowledge they have that power, “and the market agrees with that, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” The concern about such policies has been that politicians will spend their countries into bankruptcy or hyperinflation without some kind of external discipline. Once, financial markets were thought to provide it. More recently the task has been assigned to central banks which were walled off from the rest of government so they can focus on nipping any signs of inflation in the bud. Key parts of that intellectual edifice have crumbled, however. Bigger budget deficits and debts, one of the things that were supposed to push interest rates higher, didn't do so. Politicians pivoted to austerity anyway, without much of a push from the markets--and economies suffered a lackluster recovery as a result. COVID-19 is now being seen as different. Spending by governments has been the key to recovery – and the frameworks for assessing how far they could safely go didn't seem much use. Typically based around budget deficits or national debts as a share of the economy, traditional fiscal guidelines didn't have a role for interest rates – as debt has become cheaper to service even as it grew bigger. Even the Euro area, which enforces a strict version of the old-school rulebook, threw it out in the pandemic. So, economists are now working on new rules, Bloomberg says. In a November paper, Jason Furman and others argued that the interest payments a government has to make every year are a better benchmark than its total debt or annual deficit. The idea carries weight in the Biden administration Bloomberg says and notes that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen agrees with it. Furman says that the rule of thumb advocated in his paper – keeping real debt-service costs below 2% of GDP – is applicable regardless of who's right in the debate about what drives interest rates. “Can central banks decide one variable? Yes. Can they simultaneously decide three variables? No,” he says. “You can do financial repression for a while,” but that just makes it harder to meet other targets like keeping inflation under control. Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) agrees that inflation is the ultimate yardstick for policy. But it has different ideas about how governments pay for their spending – and what determines long-term interest rates. While some economists favor explanations such as ageing populations, rising inequality and capital-saving technology, the MMTers believe that when central banks persist in keeping short-term borrowing costs low, they shape long rates too. And MMT economists see the debate increasingly shifting in their favor. Countries that borrow in their own currencies can't go broke, they say, and the real risk of overspending is inflation not bankruptcy. Now the MMTers would like the profession to take another step in their direction by acknowledging that governments can manage their own borrowing costs. In the mainstream models, even low interest rates face the danger of spiking that threatening economic plans, says Scott Fullwiler, an MMT economist and professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “They haven't put into this framework that the interest rates are a policy variable.” So, we will see. These ideas continue to be bitterly controversial in some quarters and stakes are high. The debate is far reaching and certainly one producers should watch closely as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 23, 2021 |


Local Government Getting Involved in National 4-H Conference Sale Members of the Chevy Chase Town Council in Maryland now plan to put together a task force to ensure they have a say on the future of the National 4-H Conference ahead of a potential sale later this year. Representatives for the National 4-H Council briefed members of the town council during a virtual Zoom session last Wednesday evening after residents weighed in by email and the jurisdiction's Listserv on what public amenities and uses they would like to see integrated into future plans for the 12.28-acre site. The 4-H has retained CBRE to market the property for sale, with a prospective purchaser being selected in the second quarter and a closing before the end of the year. The property is currently assessed at about $19.9 million, according to the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation. Commercial uses are not permitted by right on the property, and several of the town's elected officials asked whether a condition could be imposed on the sale requiring future owners to maintain its residential zoning.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 23, 2021 |


House Sends PAYGO Measure To Senate A bill to avert Medicare, farm program, other mandatory program spending cuts was approved by the House on Friday, passing on a vote of 246-175. The measure waives statutory requirements to offset the $1.86 trillion COVID aid law and extending the suspension of separate Medicare cuts another nine months, as well as any potential cuts to mandatory farm program spending. Ultimately, 29 Republicans voted with all Democrats to pass the bill. The bill also would make several other changes to the aid/stimulus law, including a correction aimed at ensuring that hospitals serving a disproportionate share of uninsured patients are not penalized for receiving additional aid. The bill preserves special rules for disproportionate share hospitals in California, allowing them to claim funding up to 175% of their costs. It is not clear whether the Senate will approve the plan or if the action will be included in another must-pass bill later.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 23, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on February new home sales is due out at 9 a.m. CDT Tuesday. Traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts, watching for any export sales news that develops and will keep an eye on soybean oil after its limit-up close on Monday. Weather Rain is in store Tuesday from the central Plains through western, central and southern Midwest and Delta. Continued dryness easing and soil moisture recharge will occur with this rain. Northern Plains areas in drought continue to be bypassed by the precipitation. A system bringing snow to the Intermountain West looks to track southeast toward the southern Rockies later this week.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 22, 2021 |


House Passes Ag Workforce Bill The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Farm Workforce Modernization Act last week. The vote was 247-174, with 30 Republicans siding with 217 Democrats voting in favor of the bill. The Hagstrom Report says the act would give farmworkers in the United States without legal documents a way to gain legal status. The House also passed the American Dreamers and Promise Act, which would allow young people who entered the U.S. as children without legal status to stay in the country. “Farmworkers are vital to the wellbeing of our country and our economy,” says President Joe Biden. “For generations, farmworkers across America, many of whom aren’t in the country legally, have worked countless hours to feed our nation and ensure our communities are healthy and strong.” He says that’s even more clear because of COVID-19. Democrat Zoe (ZOH-ee) Lofgren of California is a primary sponsor of the Ag Workforce Bill. She says stabilizing the ag labor supply will protect farmers and our future supply of food. “The act accomplishes this by providing a path to legal status for farmworkers and updating and streamlining the H-2A temporary worker visa program.” She says it also ensures fair wages and working conditions for all workers. ********************************************************************************************** Groups Respond to House Passage of Farm Workforce Act Some of America’s prominent agricultural leaders and organizations responded to the House passage of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act. National Milk Producers Federation CEO Jim Mulhern says, “Nothing gets done if we can’t move forward. The broad industry and bipartisan support for House passage of the act shows that we can achieve consensus.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says the legislation will create a more functional and compassionate farm labor system. “It will allow more flexibility for agricultural employers, as well as strengthen protections for agricultural workers and provide them a path to citizenship.” Tom Stenzel, President and CEO of United Fresh, says, “This will stabilize our current workforce and make improvements to ensure that a future workforce can meet the growing needs of our industry.” House Ag Committee Chair David Scott of Georgia says, “A stable supply of labor is essential for our U.S. agriculture industry to help it thrive in the face of the ongoing competition. I will continue to work with stakeholders and our colleagues in the Senate to make improvements to this needed legislation.” ********************************************************************************************** Aircraft Dispute Still Threatens U.S. Wheat Trade with EU U.S. wheat farmers and customers on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean applauded a temporary truce in the tariff war between the U.S. and European Union. The cross-Atlantic dispute is centers around an unrelated case regarding aircraft subsidies. The 25 percent retaliatory tariff on U.S. hard red spring wheat imports into the U.K. and European Union are suspended for four months, temporarily reopening trade. The temporary break in the tariff comes as Katherine Tai got confirmed as the new U.S. Trade Representative. The dispute goes back to 2004 when the U.S. challenged E.U. subsidies for Airbus, and the E.U. followed suit with a challenge against certain states’ support for Boeing. After years of back and forth, the U.S. and E.U. received authorization to apply retaliatory tariffs in 2020. While the reprieve is welcomed by U.S. wheat producers, many are still cautious. Dalton Henry, Vice President of Policy for U.S. Wheat Associates, says both sides are dug in and the four-month window for the tariff suspension may not be long enough to solve the dispute. The U.K.’s recent departure from the E.U. further complicates the dispute’s outcome. The U.K. has made it clear they want the dispute resolved, offering in December to unilaterally drop its retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods as an act of goodwill. *********************************************************************************************** Soybean Sales Drop While Grain Sales Higher The U.S. Department of Agriculture says export sales of soybeans plunged while grain sales rose higher week-to-week. An agency report says soybean sales in the seven days ending on March 11 totaled 202,400 metric tons, down 42 percent week-to-week and 31 percent from the prior four-week average. China bought the largest number of soybeans, only totaling 71,500 metric tons. Bangladesh was next at 57,100 tons, followed by Japan. Totals would have been higher, but an unknown country canceled cargoes totaling 123,200 metric tons. Exports came in at 534,100 tons, 24 percent lower than the prior week. Corn sales last week came in at 985,900 metric tons, with Mexico the largest buyer at 285,500 tons, followed by Colombia and South Korea. Exports reached a marketing-year high of 2.2 million metric tons. Wheat sales through March 11 reached 390,100 metric tons, 18 percent higher than the previous week and 40 percent from the average for this time of the year. China was the main buyer at 132,300 metric tons. Mexico and Taiwan rounded out the top three wheat buyers. Unknown destinations canceled shipments of 215,800 tons, while exports for the week came in at 662,300 tons. ********************************************************************************************** Weather Challenges for Chinese Crops China is the number one producer of rice, wheat, potatoes, and many other commodities. However, it trails U.S. corn production by 42 percent. Chinese corn production set a record in 2015, but since then, it’s been too wet or too hot in the country’s three major corn-producing regions. 2019 was one of the wettest years in the past two decades across China. It was followed by near-record-hot conditions in 2020. A Successful Farming article says 2021 is looking at a big change in weather conditions with things trending much drier for most of China’s corn-growing season. The weather will be out of sync as the early spring looks cold and wet, likely delaying the start of planting. The core summer months in China will be much drier, trending toward some of the driest weather in over a decade. There might be enough soil moisture to carry some crops through the season, but there will no doubt be a fair amount of risk that will likely have traders searching through weather maps. Chinese farmers are less likely to have the yield-producing hybrids that farmers in America can access. ********************************************************************************************** February Milk Production Drops 1.3 Percent The USDA says milk production in the 24 major milk-producing states totaled 16.8 billion pounds in February. That’s down 1.3 percent from February of 2020. However, production was 2.3 percent above last year after adjusting for the leap year. January revised production was 18.4 billion pounds, up 2.6 percent from January of last year. The January revision represents an increase of 150 million pounds, or .8 percent, from last month’s preliminary production estimate. The number of milk cows on farms across the 24 major dairy states was 8.94 million head, 88,000 more than February 2020, and 2,000 more head than January of this year. Total U.S. milk production hit 17.6 billion pounds, which was 1.5 percent lower than last year at the same time. However, production was up two percent from last year after adjusting for the leap year. Production per cow in the U.S. averaged 1,864 pounds for February, 44 pounds lower than last February. California was the top state in February with more than 3.3 billion pounds of milk produced, followed by Wisconsin’s 2.4 billion pounds of milk.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 22, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Climate Change and the Banks Bloomberg reported late last week that the new administration is considering ways to push the global finance industry into consistently accounting for carbon dioxide emissions and green investments. The report said that the Treasury Department and U.S. regulators are in the early stages of working on measures to improve companies' disclosure of their environmental impact. The moves seek to address carbon leakage — situations where producers move to regions with less restrictive pollution rules — and climate-related metrics for Environmental, Social and Governance-based investing, Bloomberg said. Part of the effort would include recommendations being crafted by the SEC for companies to report their environmental impact, the report noted. The intent is to boost demand for assets that tackle climate change, while preventing companies from making claims that could be considered “greenwashing,” or overstating the significance of emissions reductions and sustainability efforts. Bloomberg also noted that there are already several industry-driven initiatives to establish a set of rules for green finance. But experts warn that without strong government oversight the industry could settle on looser standards that allow firms to continue supporting carbon-intensive activities while using cheap offsets to claim they're doing what's needed to slow global warming. Both the Treasury and the Securities and Exchange Commission refused Bloomberg's request for comment on the report. However, the SEC announced last week that it would solicit public comment on potential changes to policies governing climate disclosure, including whether it should set different standards for various industries and whether investors should have a say in what specific corporations have to reveal. Gary Gensler -- the administration's nominee to lead the SEC currently awaiting Senate confirmation -- would be responsible for implementing any changes to companies' disclosure requirements. Wall Street banks such as Citigroup Inc. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have pledged to achieve net-zero emissions. That requires a focus on cutting emissions first, before using offsets to neutralize any pollution that still remains. Doing so usually requires costly structural changes, Bloomberg said. President Joe Biden is pushing for the U.S. to take more aggressive climate action. He's expected to announce a 2030 pollution reduction goal next month that will align with efforts to keep average global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 C (2.7 F) from pre-industrial levels, Bloomberg noted. That's the most-ambitious target under the Paris Agreement. The U.S. government is convening a summit with the world's top carbon emitters on April 22, with hopes of driving more ambitious emissions-reductions and climate-finance commitments. Since taking office, Biden has sought to convince other world leaders that the U.S. is firmly back in the global fight against climate change, after it pulled back under President Donald Trump. Hashing out definitions of green financing will be a key part of discussions at international climate talks scheduled for November in Glasgow, Scotland. Bloomberg also noted that the new administration's green finance framework should start to take shape by June when leaders of the Group of Seven countries are due to meet in southwest England. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government also wants carbon leakage to be on the agenda. “Raising ambitions as we go to Glasgow is so critical,” U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said earlier this month. In Glasgow, “we will meet with the nations that met in Paris to hold the earth's temperature hopefully to no larger than a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase,” Kerry said. “Our hope is that by keeping the 1.5 degree target alive in the next 10 years, we lay the groundwork for the exciting venture of transitioning to clean energy.” The U.S. and Europe could have an identical set of rules that determine what counts as green investment, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Kerry last week in Paris. The EU is due to propose a regulation on the so-called taxonomy next month. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said she will create a “climate hub” within Treasury to address the administration's “whole-of-government” approach toward climate change. The hub will be overseen by a senior adviser who is expected to report directly to Yellen, one of the people said. A Treasury climate “czar” has not been announced. Sarah Bloom Raskin, a former Federal Reserve official who served in the Treasury Department during the Obama administration, was under consideration for the post, Bloomberg reported last month. So, we will see. The definition of new program efforts for agriculture also are being watched with interest across the industry. However, environmental criteria can become important hurdles for agricultural activities, especially if they are closely linked to capital availability. In general, programs to limit climate change have been well supported across the U.S. — depending on how interventionist they are and their overall impact on ag and industrial operations. Thus, the new climate rules and programs should be watched closely as they emerge and are implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 22, 2021 |


Vilsack Again Signals Continuation of Food Box Effort With Changes Food and nutrition programs remain a focal point for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, including the Farmers to Families Food Box Program (FFFBP) launched by the Trump administration during the pandemic. The agency will hold listening sessions on the FFFBP to determine what worked and what did not work, he told an Anti-Hunger Policy Conference Wednesday. The aim of the listening session is to develop adjustments to the program to make sure as it is “is refashioned, and redesigned, if you will, [and] it's done in a way that provides the greatest amount of help to the most people.” He also touted increases in benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other nutrition-related efforts at USDA. This is more evidence that the FFFBP will continue under the Biden administration which is not surprising given the popularity of the program and creating a closer link between farmers and consumers. As with any new government program, actual implementation often brings changes or tweaks, but the underlying concept is fully expected to continue.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 22, 2021 |


House Clears Immigration Measures, But Senate Outlook Uncertain The House approved to bills to address immigration issues, approving one that would provide a path to citizenship for around 2.5 million undocumented immigrants, including those referred to as “Dreamers” (came to U.S. before the age of 19 before January 1, 2021), on a vote of 228 to 197. Nine Republicans voted in favor of the bill. A second measure won passage 247 to 174 and would provide a path to citizenship for farmworkers in the country illegally and their family members, with 30 Republicans voting for the bill. The farm worker measure was approved by the House in 2019 but was not acted on by the Senate. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act provides for some agricultural workers in the country illegally to receive a temporary legal status if they have worked at least 180 days in the last two years. The bill would also modernize the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program, making year-round H-2A visas available for the first time. But the outlook remains uncertain as the measures face steep odds in the evenly divided Senate. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., noted that Democrats control the White House and Senate. "With a Democratic majority in the Senate and President Biden in the White House, when we pass it again it is with better assurance that it will become law,” Pelosi said. But Republicans are becoming increasingly opposed to any new immigration measure, a situation accented by the worsening situation at the U.S. southern border. The U.S. is on pace to see the largest number of migrants crossing into the country illegally in two decades, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said Tuesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 22, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Starting a new week fresh, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and for any news of export sales. Monday's first report is for February existing U.S. home sales at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by weekly grain export inspections at 10 a.m. USDA's monthly cold storage report follows the livestock close and is set for 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Another dose of rain is in store for the central and southern Plains Monday, with more drought easing and soil moisture benefit for winter wheat. This rain system expands into the Midwest and Delta the next several days with moderate to heavy amounts. We'll also see rain and snow in the Northwest, but only limited coverage in the northern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 19, 2021 |


National Biodiesel Board More Than Halfway to a Big Goal The National Biodiesel Board recently unveiled a big goal for the industry as it celebrated Rudolf Diesel’s birthday on March 18th. Rudolf invented the diesel engine back in the 1890s. In honor of that achievement, the NBB announced a plan to grow the industry to over six billion gallons by the year 2030, and, with the right advancements in feedstocks, 15 billion gallons by 2050. Right now, the operating capacity for the industry stands at more than three billion gallons, meeting half the NBB’s vision ahead of schedule. Already announced expansions and new projects could add over three billion gallons of capacity as early as 2023. “To see a concept like Rudolf Diesel’s get us to a three-billion-gallon industry is remarkable,” says National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell Rehagen. “Our industry has seen its challenges, but for nearly 30 years into commercial biodiesel production, our association never took no for an answer.” He says the biodiesel industry is “well on its way” to meeting its six-billion-gallon capacity goal. ********************************************************************************************** Legislation Would Expand Access to Affordable Credit for Farmers Wisconsin Democrat Ron Kind and Iowa Republican Randy Feenstra introduced the bipartisan Enhancing Credit Opportunities in Rural America Act. The legislation would remove taxation on income from farm real estate loans made by community banks. The act would benefit farmers, families, and rural communities by allowing more institutions to offer affordable credit to rural and agricultural borrowers. “I’ve heard from many Wisconsin lenders and farmers about a credit crunch for agricultural and rural loans, which has only gotten worse because of COVID,” says Kind. “The act will take steps to address the issue, lowering the cost for farmers and families to acquire credit in our rural communities and providing a pathway to increased income.” Kind also says America needs to ensure its hardworking family farmers get the support they need. “Our hardworking farmers feed and fuel the world, and I will support any effort that provides the resources they need to succeed in today’s economy,” says Feenstra. Early estimates show the act could reduce the average interest rate on a farm real estate loan by 1.5 to two percent. ********************************************************************************************** Japan Setting Temporary Higher Tariff on U.S. Beef Japan is imposing an emergency tariff hike on U.S. beef imports late this week. The volume of imports for the fiscal year 2020 is believed to have exceeded 242,000 metric tons, beyond which the duty hike gets automatically implemented. If the tariff goes into effect, it jumps from 25.8 percent to 38.5 percent for a month under a bilateral trade agreement that went into effect in January. Japan’s agricultural minister says the resulting increase in prices for fresh, chilled, and frozen U.S. beef will “not likely have a major impact on consumers.” The margin of increase will only be in place for 30 days. For the fiscal year 2020, which began in April of last year, Japan’s cumulative U.S. beef imports totaled 233,112 tons at the end of this February. Finance Ministry Data in Japan says the volume total may have surpassed the agreed-upon threshold by early this month. Japan’s consumption of American beef rose sharply higher because of a drop in beef imports from drought-hit Australia. The Japan Times says when the threshold is reached, the two countries have to start consultations within 10 days to adjust the applicable safeguard trigger, according to their agreement. ********************************************************************************************** The U.S. and Canada Prepare for African Swine Fever The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency have developed a protocol regarding African Swine Fever and bilateral trade. The Hagstrom Report says the protocol will ensure bilateral trade will keep going if African Swine Fever shows up in feral swine in either country while staying out of the domestic swine herds. If ASF is detected in feral swine, all trade between the two nations would immediately halt. Then, the protocol says trading would resume in three stages with increasingly reduced restrictions on live swine, swine germplasm, and untreated swine commodities. “Continuing trade with Canada in the event of a feral African Swine Fever detection is important to our stakeholders, and this protocol provides the necessary guidance to minimize the impact to the swine industry,” says USDA Chief Veterinarian Burke Healy. How quickly the U.S. and Canada establish initial control areas, initiate surveillance/case findings, remove feral swine, and start surveillance of captive swine, will then determine when it’s time to go to phase two of the protocol. Trade restrictions then reduce to the boundaries of the established control areas during the third phase. ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Endorses the Bipartisan HAULS Act The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is endorsing the Haulers of Agriculture and Livestock Safety (HAULS) Act of 2021. Introduced by four senators, the bipartisan bill would deliver much-needed flexibility for livestock haulers. “One year after COVID-19 began to disrupt daily life, U.S. cattle producers continue to prove each day that they are committed to keeping grocery stores stocked with beef,” says NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “Livestock haulers are a critical component of the beef supply chain, and flexibility in livestock hauling regulations remains vital.” Current hours-of-service rules allow for 11 hours of drive time, 14 hours on-duty time, and then require ten consecutive hours of rest. NCBA says when transporting livestock, there’s a serious need for further flexibility beyond the current hours of service. Unlike drivers moving consumer goods, livestock haulers cannot simply idle or unload their trucks when drive time hours run out without jeopardizing animal health and welfare. Bohn adds, “The HAULS Act represents the best long-term solution, which is a permanent change to existing hours-of-service regulations that preserve animal welfare as well as safety on our roads.” It also makes sure that truckers can keep stores stocked with beef. ************************************************************************************ Farm Bureau Gives Back Through “Harvest for All” The farm and ranch families that make up the American Farm Bureau donated 53 million pounds of food and raised almost $1.5 million to assist hungry Americans in 2020. It’s all a part of the organization’s “Harvest for All” program. Combined, the monetary and food donations totaled the equivalent of 53 million meals. The Young Farmers and Ranchers donation programs complemented the Farm Bureau’s donations to support COVID-19 relief of $5.4 million and 1.4 million pounds of food, announced in January. In addition to raising food and funds for the initiative, farmers and ranched tallied almost 23,000 volunteer hours assisting local hunger groups in 2020. “Hunger remains a concern for people from all walks of life, including many rural Americans and residents of farming communities,” says Jon Iverson of Oregon, Chair of the AFBF’s Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee. “Farm Bureau’s longstanding commitment to helping put food on the tables of those in need through the Harvest for All outreach is more important than ever as the effects of COVID-19 continue.” Florida’s Farm Bureau took the top honors for donating the most food and raising the most money in 2020 by donating 43 million pounds of food and $413,000.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 19, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Holding Fast to Strong Growth Fed Policy The New York Times is reporting this week that one of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's big tasks in the coming months will be to convince the financial world he means what he says about allowing more than usual inflation. He was asked at a news conference Wednesday whether — in light of forecast that the economy would recover quickly — was it time to “start talking about talking about” slowing the central bank's purchases of $80 billion in bonds each month. He responded with a “half-laugh,” the Times said, before answering, “Not yet.” His dismissiveness of the idea that the Fed would even consider slowing its efforts to strengthen the economy was one of many chances he took in last week's session to convey one simple message: The central bank will not waver in its aggressive efforts to encourage growth until the economy is truly and unquestionably back to health. It almost surely won't be the last time he faces questions that second-guess that resolve, the Times thinks. If the economy evolves as Powell and most private forecasters expect, a veritable boom will be underway later this year. As a result, he and his colleagues at the Fed will face a continuing test of their willingness to follow through on the approach they unanimously agreed to last summer. That new policy framework ended an era in which the Fed pre-emptively raised interest rates because falling unemployment risked future inflation. Powell's job on Wednesday was to persuade financial markets and everyone who makes economic decisions that the Fed was serious about this plan and that it won't be swayed by all the things that, based on its history, might cause an increase in interest rates and choke off the expansion prematurely. If prices for certain goods and services were to surge as the economy comes back, it would, in this view, be a one-time bulge rather than a continuing rise in inflation to which the Fed might need to respond. The central bank's officials now project 2.4% inflation this year, overshooting their 2% target, with a projected return to the target in 2022. The job now is to persuade the world that it really will allow modest inflation and that any coming economic party “will be worth attending.” They insist that any “slow down” policies will be based on actual problems rather than “forecasts of potential future stresses.” Powell's dismissive chuckle was just one piece of the messaging, and he returned to the prevailing idea in several ways. For example, he pledged that “we will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes.” Also, “we're not going to act pre-emptively based on forecasts for the most part, and we're going to wait to see actual data. And I think it will take people time to adjust to that, and the only way we can really build the credibility of that is by doing it.” “People start businesses, they reopen restaurants, the airlines will be flying again — all of those things will happen and they will turn out to cause one-time bulges in prices, but they likely won't change inflation going forward.” He also played down the release of the Fed's “dot-plot” of when to expect it to be time to raise rates. Four of 18 Fed officials thought that rate increases would be warranted by the end of 2022, and seven by the end of 2023. Powell emphasized that a comfortable majority envisioned no rate increases in the next three years. The questions he faced from the press Wednesday were just the beginning of what figures to be a perennial topic whenever he or other leaders of the central bank face lawmakers, business leaders or the news media. The tone and details may vary, but will all mean: “Are you sure you're not going to start tightening the money supply?” The questions might tie into inflationary pressures. For example, many conservatives have already started to complain about rising gasoline prices. Based on the experience of past Fed leaders, Powell can expect plenty of questions about that in his next visit to Capitol Hill. Or the questions could focus more on booming financial markets and whether the Fed needs to raise rates to rein in speculation. In many ways, it is the inverse of the situation that Paul Volcker faced as Fed leader in the early 1980s, as he engineered aggressive rate increases to curtail the high inflation of that era. He had to resist pressure from fellow Fed appointees who had not fully bought into the overall strategy, even threatening to resign rather than lose a close vote. The situation is certainly not that dramatic — yet — in 2021, given the unanimous vote on the new policy framework and the apparent strong majority on the committee who believe rates need to stay low. But if history is a guide, and inflation trends and financial markets are as unpredictable in the months ahead as they have been in the recent past, it may take more than a laugh for Powell to dismiss questions from the tight-money crowd. So, we will see. Certainly, everyone will be watching price trends as the economy recovers — and there is deep concern in many quarters that the policy makers will allow “too much” inflation,” what ever that is. The Powell approach almost likely will be highly controversial and should be watched closely as it emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 19, 2021 |


House Republicans Vote By Secret Ballot To Support Earmarks House Republicans passed a resolution during their conference meeting on Wednesday in support of restoring earmarks, which allows members to secure federal funding for specific projects. The caucus voted 102-84 as Democrats gear up to revive the practice, which allows members to secure federal funding for specific projects. Opponents of the GOP move say the vote tally would have been far different had it not been by secret ballot. Both parties banned earmarks in 2011 after years of them being associated with wasteful projects and corruption. Advocates say new transparency rules will help address those issues and encourage the kind of deal-making essential to bipartisan agreements. Earmarks are being seen by some Democrats as a way to potentially bring Republican support for a major infrastructure effort.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 19, 2021 |


Vilsack Signals USDA Farm Program Design May Be Creating Inequities The design of U.S. farm programs to link benefits for the safety net programs to production could be creating racial inequities, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said at a nutrition forum Wednesday. Programs based on the level of production could leave out smaller or socially disadvantaged farmers, Vilsack said. “The problem is when you basically compensate on production, the person who's producing more, benefits more,” Vilsack remarked. “So what does that mean? It means the gap widens.” He said an equality commission established at USDA will take a look at all programs and how they are designed and enacted. He labeled it “perfectly understandable” that farm programs focus on production “because that's the way it's always been.” But in a climate of heightened sensitivity on discrimination and equity, Vilsack said it makes sense to focus on broader equity impacts, not just “specific acts of discrimination.” It is not clear what areas of U.S. farm programs that the USDA review will focus on, but no doubt lawmakers who have formulated U.S. farm policy will be tracking the USDA effort closely, likely paying close attention to making sure the USDA attention is on how the programs are enacted as opposed to the underlying legislation that creates the programs.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 19, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The only official report on Friday's docket is USDA's monthly cattle on-feed report for March 1, due out at 2 p.m. CDT. Keep in mind February placements will have been affected by the interruption of bitter cold temperatures throughout the central U.S. Otherwise, traders will keep an eye on noncommercial activity after Thursday's sell-off in grains, tension in the crude oil market and the latest weather forecasts. Weather Dry conditions and mild temperatures will cover almost all primary crop areas Friday. This combination favors field drying, snow melt and the easing of river flooding after heavy precipitation during the past week. The only precipitation will be in the Northwest, where rain and snow are in store. There is no easing of drought conditions indicated in the northern Plains and Canadian Prairies indicated through the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 18, 2021 |


China Buys Another Large Shipment of U.S. Corn China bought a large shipment of U.S. corn on Tuesday. Private exporters reported the sale of 1.15 million tons of corn for delivery by the end of August. The corn is equivalent to more than 45 million bushels and was worth 251 million dollars based on Chicago futures prices. It was the largest sale of U.S. corn to China since the Asian nation bought 2.1 million tons on January 29. Successful Farming says the USDA expects China to buy a record $31.5 billion worth of U.S. farm products in the fiscal year that ends on September 30, thanks in part to its large corn purchases last fall. Sales in the fiscal year 2020 totaled $17 billion when the trade war was in full swing. If those purchases happen, China would be back on top as the number one customer for U.S. farm goods. Last year, China was third in line behind Canada and Mexico. Despite a large number of recent purchases, China didn’t meet the target in its Phase One trade agreement with the U.S. when it pledged to buy $36.6 billion worth of U.S. food, agricultural commodities, and seafood products in 2020. This year, the target is even higher at $43.5 billion. ********************************************************************************************** Oil Industry Asking for Help with Rising Costs The price of renewable fuel credits in the U.S. hit new multi-year highs this week. That has an oil refining trade group asking the White House for help in stabilizing the industry. Prices for the Renewable Identification Numbers have climbed all year as the costs of feedstocks like soybean oil continue to climb higher. Reuters says the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers group sent a letter on Monday to the Environmental Protection Agency saying that uncertainty about blending obligations for 2021-2022, which have been delayed since missing a November 30 deadline, is contributing to the rising cost of RINs. The group says the high RIN prices threaten the viability of refiners already hard-hit by COVID-19s effect on fuel demand. Renewable fuel credits for 2021 were trading at $1.43 each earlier this week, the highest price since 2013. Also, in the letter to the EPA, the group is asking the agency to finalize proposed extended compliance deadlines for the RFS and urging the EPA to consider the demand destruction brought on by COVID-19 as it decides on the blending requirements for 2021. ********************************************************************************************** Tai Confirmed as U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is the new U.S. Trade Representative. CNBC Dot Com says Tai, a critic of Chinese trade practices, was confirmed by a Senate vote of 98-0. She’s the first Asian American woman and the first woman of color to fill the USTR spot since the position was created 60 years ago. Her confirmation comes as the Biden Administration attempts to move away from the previous administration’s more belligerent tone in dealing with China while also taking a tough U.S. stance against the rival economic power. Several times between 2007 and 2014, Tai successfully argued the U.S. case against China’s trade practices before the World Trade Organization. “There’s also a lot of gray areas where the rules aren’t as clear, or where we don’t have rules yet,” she said last month. Tai also wants the U.S. to work together with other countries to confront China on its trade policies. When testifying before the Senate Finance Committee in February, Tai said she wanted to hold China to its Phase One commitments in the agreement negotiated by the Trump administration. While her predecessor, Robert Lighthizer, used tariffs against China, Tai didn’t say she’d add any additional duties on Chinese goods but did say there are “legitimate tools in the trade toolbox.” ********************************************************************************************** Senate Approves Haaland as New Secretary of the Interior The Senate confirmed New Mexico Democratic Representative Deb Haaland (Holland) as the new Secretary of the Interior. The Hagstrom Report says Haaland is the first American Indian to hold the post. Native American groups applauded her confirmation, but there is controversy over her views on oil and gas leases on federal land and fracking. The vote was 51-40, with four Republicans joining with Democrats in favor of her confirmation. She earned bipartisan support to take over the department that employs a staff of 70,000 people and oversees the country’s natural resources. The agency manages a total of 50 million acres of land, which is one-fifth of the surface area of the U.S. During the hearing, Haaland emphasized her ability to work across the aisle. During her first year in the House, Haaland introduced more bills with a co-sponsor from another party than any other House freshman. Those stats come from the website Gov Track Dot Com, which also rates her as the tenth most politically left member of Congress. ********************************************************************************************** EU Crops off to “Fair Start” After Rapid Temperature Change The European Union’s MARS weather forecasting agency says it’s been a fair start to the spring for winter crops in Europe. Cold spells in February were followed by warm weather that kick-started plant growth. A MARS monthly report says cold weather in southern Russia has likely caused some damage to winter crops. Temps in parts of western and northern Europe swung a long way, going from five degrees above zero to 59 degrees during February. The agency says, “The warm weather contributed to rapid snowmelt and the restart of growth and development after winter dormancy.” Based on trend models, MARS now says it expects 2021 yields to be higher than the disappointing yields of recent years. EU wheat sales will likely rise 3.1 percent year-over-year and 3.5 percent over the prior five-year average. Soil moisture levels shouldn’t be problematic for EU farmers, as even the eastern EU countries all have moisture levels above critical thresholds. ************************************************************************************ Syngenta Selects Site for North American Crop Protection Headquarters Syngenta has selected its current campus location on Swing Road in Greensboro, North Carolina, as the place to redevelop its North American Crop Protection headquarters. The announcement follows a comprehensive assessment of the company’s future needs and multiple site options in North Carolina and several other states. The company intends to build a more than 100,000 square-foot office building to connect with its existing laboratory facility on the north side of the 70-acre campus. Plans also include a complete renovation of the lab facilities. The new workspace will support approximately 650 employees and 100 contract workers. “The Syngenta family in Greensboro has been part of the fabric of this community for many decades,” says Vern Hawkins, president of Syngenta Crop Protection. “It’s our goal to remain in Greensboro for many years to come.” Construction will begin on the new building later this year. The entire project will take about three years to complete. The redeveloped headquarters will include contemporary work and conference spaces, health, wellness, and fitness centers, a cafeteria, auditorium, coffee areas, and many other amenities.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 18, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Big Fight Over Filibuster There is a lot of talk this week about really big policy ideas—and many of these concern direct supports and specific taxes. Budget and spending battles are interesting, but perhaps the most intense conflict appears to be brewing over the filibuster. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., warned that removing the need for 60 votes to advance most legislation would lead to dire consequences. The Hill quoted McConnell as saying, “let me say this very clearly for all 99 of my colleagues: Nobody serving in this chamber can even begin, can even begin, to imagine what a completely scorched-earth Senate would look like,” McConnell said from the Senate floor. Still, The Hill reported that Democrats “largely shrugged off the GOP leader's predictions, arguing he's already gummed up the Senate.” “For Sen. McConnell and other Republicans to plead for hanging onto this tradition is actually threatening that the Senate will continue to do less and less each year. There are those of us now in control of the majority side ... who really believe there is much more to be done in the Senate, said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.” The President “appears to agree,” The Hill said. "It almost is getting to the point where democracy's having a hard time functioning." Biden then announced that he supports changing the rules to bring back the so-called “talking filibuster," when senators needed to be on the floor if they are attempting to block bills. At the same time, Senate Republicans are accusing their Democratic colleagues of hypocrisy for talking about reforming or getting rid of the filibuster after using the same procedural tool to block several GOP bills during the previous Congress. The Hill thinks this “back-and-forth” is intensifying amid growing support within the Senate Democratic Conference for reforming the rules over concerns that Republicans will use the filibuster to obstruct proposals that have the support of a majority of Americans. Durbin, who has been participating in behind-the-scenes talks on rules reforms, offered his strongest rebuke of the filibuster to date earlier this week, comparing it to a “weapon of mass destruction” that is holding the Senate “hostage.” The filibuster undercuts American democracy as it is misused by senators to block legislation urgently needed and supported by a strong majority of the American people,” Durbin said during a floor speech Monday. Supporters of reforms argue that without changes, many of the administration's key campaign promises are effectively dead on arrival. Though Democrats control the majority, they still need the support of at least 10 Republican senators to pass most bills. Democrats were able to use reconciliation — a budget process that allows the majority to avoid a filibuster — to pass the recent $1.9 trillion coronavirus bill. Democrats are also likely to use reconciliation to pass a sweeping infrastructure and jobs package amid deep divisions with Republicans on the scope of the legislation and how to pay for it. But without filibuster reform, Democrats will need GOP support to pass any of their other big priorities: immigration reform, voting rights, anti-discrimination measures and background checks, just to name a few. Ideas being discussed by the caucus include everything from smaller changes that would leave the filibuster intact to reinstating the talking filibuster now backed by Biden, or gutting it altogether by use of a simple majority. “I support discussing any proposal that ends the misuse of the filibuster as a weapon of mass obstruction. If the Senate retains the filibuster, we must change the rules so that a senator who wants to bring our government to a standstill endures — at least — some discomfort in the process. We need new rules that actually promote debate,” Durbin said. It's hardly the first filibuster fight that has buffeted an increasingly partisan Senate in recent years. In 2011, McConnell and then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reached agreement where Republicans would limit their filibusters if Reid agreed to open up the floor to more amendment votes. In 2013, Democrats used the “nuclear option” to end filibusters on lower courts and most executive nominations. Four years later, Republicans in the GOP-controlled Senate ended the use of the 60-vote filibuster on Supreme Court nominations, a move that helped former President Trump add three justices to the court. This time around, part of the problem for reform advocates is the razor-thin margin in the Senate. To go nuclear, Schumer would need the support of every lawmaker in his 50-member caucus. But several are viewed as wary, and Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., are both on the record as recently in opposition to such a move. Manchin indicated on Tuesday that he wasn't getting pressure from the caucus saying they “know who I am” and that his position hasn't changed. “Everybody's talking, there's so many different ideas out there. And that's healthy when you want to talk about everything.” Asked what his bottom line is, Manchin added: “You cannot get rid of the filibuster unless your intention is to destroy the Senate.” So, we will see. It is clear that opposition to the current filibuster process is growing—but it is far from clear just what could productively replace it in the current political environment. The expectation is for more and more controversial fights on this issue alone, among a number of others that should be watched closely as the season progresses.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 18, 2021 |


Japan To Temporarily Raise Tariffs On Imports Of US Beef Japanese trade data have confirmed that the country will impose a higher tariff on imports of U.S. beef for 30 days. Japan's Ministry of Finance said the tariff will be raised to 38.5% from a current 25.8% for 30 days starting March 18; for scraps, the tariff will rise to 38.5% from a current 34.7%. The U.S. shipped 242,229 metric tons of beef in Japan's fiscal 2020, exceeding the 242,000-metric ton quota agreed to in the U.S.-Japan trade deal. The two governments will now hold talks on the situation within the next 10 days. The tariff will drop to 25% April 17, the level for Japan's fiscal 2021. Beef importers could delay their customs processes until then to avoid paying the higher tariffs, according to an official with the Japanese ministry.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 18, 2021 |


Experts Signal Carbon Bank, Carbon Efforts Will Take Time Experts at a Farm Foundation session on climate and carbon markets laid out the possibilities for farmers with the efforts to capture carbon and to provide financial incentive/support for farmers on that front, but also indicated that developing the processes, procedures and tools needed for the important factors of measuring carbon and verifying activities will take time to develop. The experts also stressed a need for farmers to be able to get benefits from deploying carbon capture efforts and that failure to make that happen will limit the effectiveness of any such program. While corporate efforts are being seen, those participating in the forum related a view that government could play a key role in research into technologies and practices. The effort will not be an immediate shift, with some indicating it could take upwards of 20 years for moving to new farming practices that sequester more carbon in the soils. And for farmers that have already deployed those efforts, one of the keys may be having the data to back up what their actions have meant in terms of carbon capture. Carbon measurement and carbon prices remain two major components ahead, especially for those already deploying practices like minimum-tillage or no-till. Developing ways to measure those actions retroactively will be key.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 18, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims and the latest U.S. Drought Monitor are due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday. An index of leading indicators is set for 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sales that might develop. Weather Thursday will be wet in the eastern and southern Midwest with rain and some snow. Other crop areas will be dry. The pattern turns mostly dry through the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 17, 2021 |


USDA Announces Protocols to Minimize ASF Trade Disruptions if Detected in Feral Swine The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced protocols to help ensure bilateral trade if African swine fever is detected in feral swine in either country. USDA’s Plant Health Inspection Service announced the protocols Tuesday. The protocols would be in force if ASF were still absent from domestic swine. Upon an ASF feral swine detection, all trade between both countries would initially stop. Then, according to the protocol, trade would resume in three progressive phases with increasingly reduced restrictions on live swine, swine germplasm, and untreated swine commodities. How quickly the U.S. and Canada establish initial control areas, initiate surveillance/case findings and removal in feral swine, and start surveillance in captive swine, will determine when they enter phase two of the protocol. During the third and final phase, trade restrictions are reduced to the boundaries of the established control area. APHIS and CFIA are continuing to work with the industry to ensure that both countries have the processes and procedures in place to fully implement the protocol. ************************************************************************************ Report: Markets Shaping Planting Intentions A new planting intentions survey from Allendale shows market prices are influencing planting decisions. The Illinois-based analytical research and brokerage firm released its planting estimates this week following a nationwide survey that spanned 29 states. The survey estimates corn planting intentions of 92.8 million acres, two million more acres than in 2020. This would be the fourth largest of all time and 4.5 million off the 2012 peak of 97.2 million. Allendale’s production estimate would imply an increase of 1.058 billion bushels over 2020, a production record, if achieved. Soybean planting intentions are seen at 90.3 million acres, 7.2 million more than last year. This would be a record acreage, 155,000 over the 2017 peak of 90.16 million. Allendale’s 4.5-billion-bushel production estimate would also be a record and 422 million over last year. Wheat acreage is estimated at 46.4 million acres, 2.1 million more than last year. Assuming normal abandonment and trend yields, Allendale’s production estimate of 1.9 billion is 84 million bushels over last year. ************************************************************************************ ADM Settles Peanut Price-Fixing Lawsuit Archer Daniels Midland has agreed to settle a price-fixing lawsuit regarding U.S. peanut crops. The Wall Street Journal reports ADM will pay $45 million to settle the lawsuit brought against ADM, Birdsong Peanuts and Olam International, by nearly 12,000 peanut farmers. Birdsong and Olam previously settled for a combined $58 million. The three companies buy upwards of 90 percent of U.S.-grown peanuts. All three denied any wrongdoing in the settlement, but chose to settle to avoid further litigation-related expenses. The lawsuit claimed the three companies drove down peanut prices by overstating inventories, creating a false sense of oversupply in the market. Unlike other major commodities, there is no futures market for settling prices. The lawsuit claims prices from the three companies offered little variance, leaving farmers with few choices to sell their crop. In court documents, lawyers for the farmers involved in the lawsuit cited private discussions between the rival processors that the farmers claim showed coordination. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety The Department of Agriculture Tuesday named Sandra Eskin as deputy undersecretary for food safety. Eskin comes to USDA from The Pew Charitable Trusts, where she served as the Project Director for Food Safety. Before joining Pew, she was a public policy consultant to consumer and public interest organizations, providing strategic and policy advice on a range of consumer protection issues. USDA also announced other staff appointments. Eyang Garrison was named chief of staff in the Office of the Deputy Secretary. Before joining USDA, Garrison served as the deputy chief of staff and legislative director for Representative Marcia Fudge of Ohio. Jeremy Adamson was named policy advisor for trade and foreign agricultural affairs in the Foreign Agricultural Service. Most recently, Jeremy served as the portfolio manager for Certis USA. And, Edyael (edge-yall) Casaperalta was named senior policy advisor for the Rural Utilities Services agency. Casaperalta is an attorney who has supported indigenous and underrepresented communities in telecommunications matters. ************************************************************************************ USDA Investing $598 Million to Improve and Modernize Rural Electric Infrastructure The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced investments to modernize and improve rural electric grids through 11 projects under the Electric Loan Program. The funding will benefit 460,000 rural residents and businesses in Arizona, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah and Virginia. Several of the loans will help expand smart grid technologies, which can be a catalyst for broadband and other telecommunications services in unserved and underserved rural areas. The funding comes just weeks after grid disruptions during a historic cold snap across the nation. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, "These USDA investments will bring affordable electric power to rural residents," adding, "Now is the time for our nation to make significant investments in infrastructure." USDA's Electric Loan Program helps finance wind, solar and natural gas plants, and improvements to produce clean energy from coal-fired plants. Local utilities also use the loans to invest in infrastructure to deliver affordable power to millions of residential, commercial and agricultural consumers. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Union Foundation Donates Meals to Troops in D.C. Farmers Union Enterprises recently donated $50,000 to provide roughly 5,000 meals to National Guard troops on duty in the nation’s capital. The funds went to D.C.-based restaurants Farmers Fishers Bakers and Founding Farmers, both of which are part of Farmers Restaurant Group. FUE is made up of several Farmers Union-owned businesses in the Upper Midwest, the dividends of which help fund Farmers Union organizations in Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin, as well as National Farmers Union. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, "As farmers, one of the best ways we know how to thank these brave individuals for their sacrifice is with food.” Farmers Restaurant Group co-owner Dan Simons says, “My team and I are honored to be able to provide delicious meals to those who serve and protect each and every day”. The first delivery of lunch and dinner meals was made Tuesday morning to the D.C. Armory. Several more deliveries will be made over the next four weeks.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 17, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Global Tax Deal Considered Bloomberg is reporting this week that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is working with her counterparts around the world to forge an agreement over a global minimum tax on multinational corporations to help pay for its emerging domestic agenda. Bloomberg says the effort involves “a fraught and challenging global negotiation of tax laws,” but if it succeeds, could prove one of Yellen's biggest policy legacies and could also prove central to Biden's presidency. The $1.9 trillion stimulus signed into law last week was financed completely by additional federal borrowing. But the administration seen as searching widely for ways to minimize reliance on taxes for other big-ticket priorities such as the massive infrastructure and jobs package being discussed by White House officials and congressional Democrats. A key source of new revenue being discussed is corporate taxes, which President Trump cut sharply cut in 2017. Although President Joe Biden has not proposed reversing the Trump's cut in the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, he has said he will aim to raise potentially hundreds of billions more in revenue from big businesses. At the same time, tax experts, business groups and Republican lawmakers worry that raising the rate could damage U.S. competitiveness. Countries around the globe have both recently and over the past several decades joined the United States in reducing tax rates to attract corporate investment – a trend some economists see as a destructive "race to the bottom." "It's a little like the Paris climate accord, every country thinks it can steal business from others by lowering taxes. The main beneficiary of that race has been the richest multinational corporations," Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Prize-winning economist at Columbia University and mentor of Yellen's said. Yellen is now seen as working to curb the trend through an effort at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in which more than 140 countries are participating. The goal is for countries to agree in principle to a minimum corporate tax rate—likely to be nonbinding – that would make it harder for multinational corporations to play countries off each other by threatening to leave. At this time, Yellen's efforts face myriad skeptics who worry the push could encourage further tax shifting to countries outside the OECD agreement, or lead the United States to make concessions that will hurt its competitiveness. This group includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "It's just a money grab from the Europeans, and we should not let them do it," said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the center-right American Action Forum and a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. "My big concern is that—as part of their desire to be on a 'let's be friends' parade – the administration will give away too much.” Over the past four decades, industrialized nations around the globe have dramatically slashed businesses taxes, especially in industrialized countries not considered tax havens. The average corporate tax rate globally in 1980 was approximately 40%, but more recently has fallen to about 23% in 2020. About 40% of profits earned by the world's multinational firms were stashed in tax havens in 2017. Bloomberg calls the worldwide tax declines “startling.” From 2000 to 2018, OECD says 76 countries cut corporate tax rates while 12 countries maintained their corporate tax level and only six increased them. In 2000, more than 55 countries had corporate tax rates above 30%. Now, fewer than 20 do. For example, the effective U.S. federal tax rate had fallen from about 44% to closer to 29% before the 2017 tax law was passed, according to Goldman Sachs. After that cut, the effective rate paid by the largest Fortune 500 companies fell from 21% to about 11.3%, with 91 of the world's biggest corporations paying zero dollars in federal taxes. Biden campaigned by promising to enact new federal programs but critics charge that those plans mean “tax hikes that hurt U.S. competitiveness” and encourage multinationals to relocate abroad. This is leading administration officials to argue that the OECD negotiations are crucial to the administration's broader agenda. One part of the global tax restructuring effort would involve OECD grants of taxing rights over a part of multinational firms' profits where the consumers reside, based on set international formulas that would cover about $100 billion in global tax revenue. To support this approach, there is discussion of an agreement on a floor on international corporate tax rates, based on an OECD global minimum tax rate, probably at around 12% of profits – both highly controversial approaches. "The OECD's blueprints offer little more than a 'tax haven lite' model where tax havens can keep the majority of profit they siphon from around the world so long as they share some of those profit with the richest of countries," Alex Cobham, chief executive at the Tax Justice Network, said in a statement last fall. Any agreement reached by the administration about digital tax rules likely would have to be ratified by Congress in a series of highly difficult negotiations, depending on the details of the deal. Critics say these fights could take years for the OECD member countries to pass laws putting the agreement into effect – if they do so at all. But proponents say the cost of inaction remains too steep, Bloomberg says. It sees the OECD negotiations as a major early test of the global tax ambitions and it cites Yellen's letter to the G-20, highlighting the global impact of the coronavirus, among other crises. "We have come together to face great challenges in the past. We must do so again." So, we will see. It is clear that political pressure against sharply increased borrowing to support new programs is increasing rapidly and that the OECD approach could provide some important opportunities. These proposals are extremely important and should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 17, 2021 |


USDA Seeks Input On Climate Change Efforts USDA is requesting public comment on four areas of USDA policy: Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry; Biofuels, Wood and Other Bioproducts, and Renewable Energy; Addressing Catastrophic Wildfires; and Environmental Justice and Disadvantaged Communities. The request does not offer any potential actions on the part of USDA in these areas nor does it discuss a carbon bank which has been touted as a potential action or specifically the use of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) authority for any of efforts. USDA has set a 45-day comment period on the request and it is not clear whether they will allow more time for public feedback given the breadth of the information they are seeking. The attention on climate change actions at USDA is clearly rising as the situation is a government-wide focus, and one that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has spent a considerable amount of time focusing on in his initial time in office.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 17, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Markets will notice a report on February U.S. housing starts at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by the U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. Traders will examine the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sales news. The Federal Reserve concludes its meeting and is expected to announce the federal funds rate target will stay near zero at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather Moderate to heavy rain and snow will cover much of the southern Plains and southern Midwest Wednesday. This stormy pattern includes blizzard warnings in the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, tornado threats in the southeastern Plains and flood risk in the southern Midwest. This stormy pattern is stressful for livestock, safety and transportation but provides continued soil moisture benefit.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 16, 2021 |


USDA Requests Information on USDA’s Climate-Smart Agriculture Strategy The Department of Agriculture is requesting public input on a climate-smart agriculture and forestry strategy. The request follows President Joe Biden’s executive order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. The executive order states that America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis, and directs Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to solicit input from stakeholders as USDA develops a climate-smart agriculture and forestry approach. Vilsack states, "We want your ideas on how to position the agriculture and forestry sectors to be leaders on climate-smart practices to mitigate climate change." The request was published in a Federal Register notice, which will be available for public input until April 30, and is available online through the Federal Register. The notice seeks information on four topics: climate-smart agriculture and forestry; biofuels, bioproducts, and renewable energy; catastrophic wildfire; and meeting the needs of disadvantaged communities through USDA’s climate strategy. ************************************************************************************ Democrats Reintroduce Safe Line Speeds During COVID-19 Act Democrats have reintroduced the Safe Line Speeds During COVID-19 Act. The lawmakers say the bill will protect worker, consumer, and animal safety by suspending all current and future USDA waivers and regulations that allow companies to increase production line speeds at meatpacking plants during the COVID-19 pandemic. Senate Democrat Corey Booker, along with Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Bennie Thompson, announced the reintroduction last week. In January, the Department of Agriculture withdrew the Trump administration's proposed rule, which would have allowed poultry processing plants to increase the speed of their production lines by 25 percent. For the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration, this bill would suspend all active waivers issued by USDA and suspend USDA's authority to issue new waivers in this area. The bill would also suspend implementation of, and conversion to, the New Swine Slaughter Inspection System established under USDA's final rule published in October 2019, titled Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection. ************************************************************************************ Kind Introduces Bipartisan Legislative Fix to Protect Rural Access to Care Representative Ron Kind last week introduced the bipartisan Rural and Underserved Small Hospital Protection Act. Known as the RUSH Act, the legislation will update the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act to help ensure rural health clinics across have the resources they need to provide care for patients in rural and underserved communities. The Wisconsin Democrat says, “We must continue to support our outstanding rural health care providers and protect access to care for rural communities.” Kind says the RUSH Protection Act provides clarity after changes were made to the Rural Health Clinic reimbursement rules. Rural Health Clinics play a vital role in providing access to care for rural communities and have been on the frontlines of combatting COVID-19 in rural regions. However, due to a drafting error in the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act, many are affiliated with critical access hospitals that opened in 2020 and face significant Medicare payment cuts. Kind says the legislation will correct this mistake. ************************************************************************************ CoBank Releases Spring Agronomy Outlook Farm supply cooperatives and distributors are positioned to benefit from an active and profitable spring agronomy season, according to a new report from CoBank. The report says the profitable spring is driven by high commodity prices, strong input demand and an expected increase in planted acres of soybean, corn and wheat. Ag retailers begin the 2021 planting season with favorable industry fundamentals and an opportunity to expand profit margins, according to the report. A CoBank researcher says, "Improving profits for cooperative agronomy departments should help cushion the negative carry caused by an inversion in futures prices." Given the higher acreage forecasts, farmers are expected to purchase more fertilization products during the spring planting season. Rising fertilizer prices are also a positive indicator for new sales and retailer margins. Inventory levels of seed, fertilizer and crop protection products are largely expected to be sufficient for the projected increase in spring-planted acres. However, pandemic logistics challenges may impact deliveries. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $28 Million in Wetlands Restoration The Department of Agriculture is investing $28 million in six new Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership projects and four ongoing projects. Announced Monday, the investment enables conservation partners and producers to work together to return critical wetland functions to agricultural landscapes. Partners will contribute $2.82 million, bringing the total investments to $30.82 million. Terry Cosby, acting Chief for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, says, “Wetlands have tremendous benefits ranging from cleaner water to flood prevention, to enhancing wildlife habitat to sequestering carbon.” Since 2014, similar projects across 11 states have resulted in 136 closed wetland easements and wetland easements pending closure, protecting more than 27,400 acres. In total, NRCS has supported landowners in protecting more than 2.85 million acres through wetland easement programs nationwide. The balance of the $28 million initial NRCS investment after the projects are funded is $14.7 million, which provides funding for four projects now in their second year. ************************************************************************************ Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year Nominations Now Open Farmers are invited to submit nominations for the 2022 Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year contest, supported by Purina. This is the fourth year of the contest, which celebrates farm dogs and the ways they support farmers and ranchers throughout America on the farm. The grand prize winner – Farm Bureau Farm Dog of the Year – will win a year’s worth of Purina dog food and $5,000 in prize money. The winner will be recognized at a Farm Dog of the Year award ceremony at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention in January 2022. Up to four regional runners-up will each win $1,000 in prize money. Desired attributes for the Farm Dog of the Year include helpfulness to the farmer and his/her family, playfulness and obedience. The 2022 Farm Dog of the Year will also be featured in a professionally-produced video. Eligibility guidelines and submission requirements are available online at www.fb.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 16, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Considering Future Economic Policies Bloomberg is reporting this week that the new administration is considering the first major federal tax hike since 1993 as it works to design its long-term economic program. Unlike the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus act, the next initiative, which is expected to be even bigger, won't rely just on government debt as a funding source. In fact, it has been increasingly clear for some time that tax hikes will be a component. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said at least part of the next bill will have to be paid for. Key advisers are now making preparations for a package of measures that could include an increase in both the corporate tax rate and the individual rate for high earners. The result is increasing pressure on officials like Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell who will be required to “defend his ultra-easy monetary policy outlook amid a quickening economic recovery that's ignited fears of inflation,” Bloomberg says. The Fed is wrapping up a two-day policy meeting this week, almost exactly 12 months after slashing interest rates to nearly zero as COVID-19 spread. It will publish its policy statement and quarterly forecasts at midweek and the chair is expected to hold a press conference the same day. A lot has changed in the three months since the Fed last published economic projections, Bloomberg notes, including passage of the massive fiscal stimulus and accelerating vaccinations. Powell's spent recent weeks trying to dispel premonitions about impending tightening and he'll be asked to reconcile a likely upgrade to the Fed's economic outlook and its projections that are expected to show zero interest rates through 2023. “I think this is the kind of meeting the Fed would rather not have,” said Ethan Harris, Bank of America Corp.'s head of global economic research. “the big problem that they face is that they have to raise their forecasts — the GDP forecast they have right now is so stale it could be carbon-dated.” The Fed last updated its projections in mid-December before broad distribution of vaccines and almost $3 trillion in fiscal aid was signed into law. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect Fed officials to upgrade their 2021 economic-growth forecast to a median 5.8% from 4.2%. That's still below some of the most bullish Wall Street estimates, the report said. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is calling for a 7.7% increase in the same period and 11 other firms tracked by Bloomberg say growth will be at or above 7% at the end of the year. The better outlook has raised market expectations for future inflation and prompted investors to sell bonds, pushing up yields and renewing skepticism that Powell can keep rates low for as long as the Fed has indicated. But the Fed chief is sticking to his guns, arguing that the economy has a long way to go in fully getting back to where it was before the pandemic. He's reiterated that the central bank's new policy strategy means it will focus more intently on returning to maximum employment, and will judge that in a much broader way than before. Although 75% of economists in Bloomberg's recent survey said the Fed will have to raise rates “before long,” they didn't see a change to the Fed's median 2023 projection at this month's meeting. Interest-rate futures, however, are pricing in about three 25 basis point rate increases before the end of that year. Recovery optimism reflects a sense that activity will bounce back quickly in the second half of the year. Hiring has already picked up, with more than half a million jobs created in the first two months of 2021 and some see that improvement accelerating. But as Powell pointed out earlier this month, nearly 10 million Americans remain jobless. The Black unemployment rate rose to a staggering 9.9% last month. Inflation also hasn't reflected much of a recovery yet. Stripping out more-volatile food and energy prices, the consumer price index edged up 1.3% in February, far from the Fed's 2% target. Economists expect bigger gains in the coming months, both due to transitory pandemic-related effects and things like higher gas prices and increased spending on leisure activities following a year of lockdowns. Powell last year unveiled a new policy framework, saying they'll allow inflation to overshoot 2% after periods below it. That'll likely mean the Fed will keep policy accommodative for longer. But if the quick and powerful recovery that bond traders are betting on materializes, it could cause a more disorderly sell off in Treasuries, threatening stable financial conditions, which the Fed wants to avoid. In the meantime, Powell and his colleagues have indicated they're not worried about the recent rise in Treasury yields, saying that as long as such price moves are driven by the right reasons — such as the stronger economic outlook — it's not a concern. So, we will see. Clearly, the new administration has large ambitions for new programs leading many to look for evidence of new inflation — a potential development producers should monitor closely as the season progresses, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 16, 2021 |


Vote On Tai As USTR Expected This Week The U.S. Senate will finally vote on Katherine Tai to be the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). Her approval has never been in doubt, but it still took longer than most thought for her confirmation vote which should occur sometime this week as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., signaled late last week in filing cloture on the nomination. Some believe this is also why the Biden administration has been less public about their trade policy views.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 16, 2021 |


Focus On Supreme Court In April Relative To Biofuels Policy The U.S. Supreme Court April 27 will hear refiners' appeal of the Tenth Circuit Court ruling that invalidated three small refinery exemptions (SREs). The decision relates to the refiners' appeal of the ruling that said in order to be granted SREs, the refiners needed to have obtained them continuously from 2010-forward. EPA recently came out in favor of the court ruling and said that it will not act on the pending SREs until after the Supreme Court issues its decision on the matter. EPA data as of late-February showed 20 so-called “gap year” SREs were pending covering 2011-2018 compliance years, with another 30 pending for the 2019 compliance year and 16 for the 2020 compliance year. Expectations are if the Supreme Court sides with the Tenth Circuit ruling, it would dramatically reduce the granting of SREs moving forward.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 16, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Commerce Department will report on February retail sales at 7:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday, followed by the Federal Reserve's report on February industrial production at 8:15 a.m. Traders will check the latest weather forecasts and see if any export sales news emerges. Weather Tuesday will feature a swath of rain in the southeastern U.S. along with periods of snow in the central and northern Plains and the Intermountain West. The system producing the western U.S. snow is indicated to be a rain and snow maker in the south-central U.S. Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 15, 2021 |


Kansas City Goes Year-Round on E15 The Environmental Protection Agency approved removing the low Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) gasoline requirements in Kansas City. That allows the KC metro area to sell E15 year-round. Both the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources worked with the EPA to remove those requirements. “The continuing work by state agencies to reduce ozone and improve the air quality for the Kansas City region is what made this move possible,” says Acting EPA Region Seven Administrator Ed Chu. Growth Energy says the announcement is a big step for Kansas City and a continuation of their hard work to improve their air quality and address environmental issues. “Allowing the year-round sale of E15 will help strengthen these clean energy efforts and give Kansas City area residents more access to cleaner and more affordable fuel options,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. A recent report says switching from E10 to E 15 across the country would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 20 million tons per year. “Ethanol’s benefits are tangible and will help Kansas City protect human health and help decarbonize the country’s transportation system,” she adds. ********************************************************************************************** ITC Placing Duties on Phosphate Fertilizer Imports The U.S. International Trade Commission says phosphate fertilizer imports from Morocco and Russia have affected the U.S. fertilizer market. The ITC also says it will place a countervailing duty on the imports from those countries. U.S. commodity groups have warned that new duties on imported phosphate fertilizers would raise prices by more than $80 a ton. A DTN report says the ITC voted 4-1 in favor of the countervailing duties. The ruling comes a month after the Department of Commerce recommended the tariffs get placed on phosphorous fertilizer imports. Mosaic filed petitions last year to request the start of a countervailing duty investigation. The company said foreign subsidies on imports are unfair and that these duties would restore competitiveness in the U.S. market. “Today’s decision upholds our belief that fair trade is the bedrock of a healthy U.S. economy and that American farmers will benefit from having a more competitive American fertilizer industry,” says Mosaic in a news release. Moroccan importer OCP says in a news release that it disagreed with the ruling and will cooperate with U.S. authorities. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Organizations Want Continued Market Development Funding The Coalition to Promote U.S. Agricultural Exports says farmers and rural businesses need continued investment in the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program. Those programs are necessary to make up for the lost export opportunities brought on by COVID-19 and fight foreign competition. The coalition sent a letter on that topic to House and Senate Agricultural Appropriations Subcommittee leaders that was signed by 130 agricultural organizations. “Studies show these public-private programs provide a rate of return that far exceeds their public expense,” says Robbie Minnich, Coalition Chair and Senior Government Relations Representative with the National Cotton Council. “Our organizations are asking leadership to provide $255 million for Agricultural Trade Promotion and Facilitation apportioned under the Farm Bill, and from that amount, MAP should receive at least $200 million to promote agri-food products in China, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and Mexico.” The coalition says fully-funded export programs are critical to helping U.S. farmers, ranchers, and food exporters keep pace with the rest of the world’s exporting countries.” ********************************************************************************************** Ag Market Outlook is More Optimistic The USDA’s Food and Ag Policy Research Institute says the Market Outlook Report is uncertain, but it’s more optimistic than it was a few months ago. The most recent baseline projections for agricultural and biofuel markets were prepared using market information available as of January 2021. The agency says commodity markets will continue to be volatile. Some of the key findings include major crop prices will retreat from recent peaks but remain above the prices from 2015-2019. Projected corn prices in 2021 will average $4.06 a bushel, and soybeans will average $10.61. Increasing Chinese imports are behind the recent strength in grain and oilseed markets. If China’s purchasing pace continues, exports and market prices could be higher than projected. However, if purchases falter, there is a downside risk as well. The report also says higher prices and assumed normal spring planting conditions would allow the 2021 total area planted to major crops to rebound to 2018 levels. The average prices for livestock should increase this year as the sector returns to more normal operating conditions after the plant closures and other disruptions during last year. Lastly, after COVID reduced driving and fuel use in 2020, projected ethanol production and use will increase this year but won’t immediately bounce back to pre-COVID levels. ********************************************************************************************** Soy Checkoff Research Shows Strong Trust in U.S. Farmers The United Soybean Board released the results of a consumer survey that sheds light on the needs and perceptions of people nationwide about their food supply. The dependability of farmers who nourish the world hasn’t gone unnoticed. U.S. farmers rank as the most trusted members of the supply chain when it comes to ensuring its safety, taking the top spot in 78 percent of consumer responses. “We knew it was vital to understand the values of the very people who purchase the products our farmers grow,” says Mace Thornton, USB vice president of communications and marketing strategy. Some of the key findings include 79 percent of consumers having either a very or somewhat positive view of U.S. farmers who grow crops, including soybeans. Consumers are united in their support for domestic agriculture, with 70 percent saying it’s somewhat or very important to buy food made with U.S.-grown crops. Sixty percent of the respondents see soybeans as healthy, while 26 percent are neutral on the idea. Less than half are aware that the soybeans used to make their favorite products are sustainably grown. ************************************************************************************ USDA Offers Renewals for CSP Contracts Set to Close The USDA says it’s accepting Conservation Stewardship Program renewal applications through March 31 for over 11,000 contracts set to end this year. More than nine million acres are currently enrolled in the CSP, USDA’s largest working lands conservation program. “In the fiscal year 2020, NRCS helped enhance 9.3 million acres of land enrolled in CSP,” says Terry Crosby, Acting Chief for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. “CSP continues to prove its worth by helping farmers and ranchers advance their business operations through conservation enhancements on their land that sustain the natural resources that improve productivity and their bottom lines.” Participants with existing CSP contracts that close on December 31 of this year can benefit from recent program changes by renewing their contracts for an additional five years if they agree to adopt additional conservation practices on their land. Applications to renew expiring contracts are due by March 31.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 15, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Administration Economic Activism The Hill is reporting this week that President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief act this week is being heralded as a “bridge for low-to-middle income households to” cope financially until vaccines enable the U.S. economy to function normally. The program is popular because of its benefits: large direct payments and funding for the “rollout” of vaccines and enhancements for school safety — as well as $350 billion of support for state and local assistance. Many of the provisions will lapse after specified periods, but advocates are pushing for permanent increases for child-tax-credits—supports estimated to cost more than $100 billion annually in the provision of “permanent assistance to families.” However, a main item on the Democrat's wish list was not included and that was the proposed doubling in the minimum wage to $15 per hour. However, progressives indicate they will seek separate legislation on this issue. The Hill argues that the main issue for investors is increasingly what the “overall budgetary impact of increased federal spending” will be. Last year, the federal deficit ballooned to a post-war high of nearly 14% of GDP — an increasingly controversial policy seen by many as boosting the risk of higher inflation and interest rates in the future. This view is enunciated in detail by Michael Bordo and Mickey Levy, who have studied the relationship between expansionary fiscal policies and inflation for over two centuries, the Hill says. They suggest that a key difference from the 2008 global financial crisis is the growth in the money supply which has surged this past year partly as a result of excess saving associated with COVID transfer payments. Meanwhile, the increase in federal debt outstanding has created a situation of “fiscal dominance” in which the Fed is compelled to keep interest rates low for the foreseeable future to keep the government's debt service costs manageable. For some observers, these conditions are similar to those that developed in the mid-late 1960s when President Lyndon Johnson expanded “Great Society” programs as the Vietnam War was ramping up. The initiatives included a “War on Poverty,” Medicare and Medicaid, the Head Start program, urban renewal and the Motor Vehicle Air and Pollution Control Act. When these programs were first unveiled the federal budget was close to balance and interest rates and inflation were low. Thereafter, federal spending rose by 50% as social programs expanded and costs for the Vietnam War rose. Because tax rates then were substantially higher than today (with the top marginal tax rate for households at 70%) the increase in the federal budget deficit did not rise above 3% of GDP. Nonetheless, consumer price inflation, which was only 1% at the beginning of the 1960s, rose steadily in the second half and approached 6% in 1970. The principal reason was the Fed's slow pace for interest rate increases as inflation expectations increased. The situation culminated with the first U.S. dollar devaluation in December 1971 that was the precursor of the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, The Hill says. By comparison, few economists today believe the economy is headed for a repeat of the 1960s and 1970s because the Fed has “regained its credibility as an inflation fighter in the 1980s and it has kept inflation at or below its target of 2% for several decades now.” Accordingly, proponents of fiscal stimulus contend low interest rates mean the opportunity costs for new programs are low. However, even if inflation does not resurface quickly with unemployment still elevated, the likelihood is that Treasury bond yields will continue to climb as the economy recovers. Ten-year yields have already increased by more than 50 basis points this year to 1.6% recently and they could reach or surpass 2% as COVID vaccines become widespread and businesses resume normal operations. Beyond the near term, the big issue is how much, or whether, government programs will be rolled back as economic conditions improve. The main cost incurred by the “Great Society” — added healthcare expenses associated with Medicare and Medicaid — did not show up immediately but grew exponentially over time. For example, U.S. spending on healthcare was only 5% of GDP when these programs were launched as compared with 18% today and federal programs now account for nearly one third of the total. Observers continue to argue that it is clear that the pace of increase of federal debt held by the public over the past decade is not sustainable: It has doubled to nearly 80% of GDP from less than 40% before the 2008 global financial crisis. Moreover, some forecasts call for further increases in the coming decade. Meanwhile, the administration is expected to unveil its plans for boosting taxes on corporations and the wealthy to help to defray some of the costs of the federal programs enacted. According to Wharton's Budget model the tally could exceed $3 trillion over the coming decade, while other forecasts call for taxes to increase between $1 trillion to $2 trillion. Only as actual tax increases are finalized, will investors have a clearer idea of the sustainability of the budgetary outlook. So, we will see. It is clear that the size and impacts of the public debt are expected to become increasingly important as new social programs are implemented — fights that are increasingly important to producers and which should be watched closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 15, 2021 |


Still Skepticism Over Climate Change Efforts Ahead For US Ag Policy Farmers and ranchers have expressed skepticism about a forthcoming push for climate change proposals, and their views were echoed in a Senate Ag Committee hearing Thursday on the climate situation. Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., noted his concerns that carbon credits will not benefit farmers significantly or broadly enough. “This may be a potential income stream for some producers, which is a good thing. But for others it could be cost prohibitive,” he said. Boozman stressed anxiety that Democrats would use the budget reconciliation process to pass a climate bill backed by President Joe Biden and Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., with minimal or no Republican support. Boozman highlighted how chicken, beef, dairy and rice industries have increased production with a significantly reduced environmental impact over recent decades. He noted how “exciting new opportunities to compensate farmers and foresters for these environmental gains hold promise,” but he cautioned there are complex barriers that must be eliminated in this uncertain marketplace. “There are costs associated with verification, validation, technical services, new technologies and equipment, and often times costs associated with reduced yields. These costs add up and can become prohibitive. For this new opportunity to be viable for producers and forest owners, the benefits must outweigh the risks and costs they take on,” he said. The American Farm Bureau Federation said it would not support a partisan climate bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 15, 2021 |


USITC Sides With Mosaic In Phosphate Fertilizer Case The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) Thursday voted that imports of phosphate fertilizers from Morocco and Russia are causing material injury to the U.S. phosphate industry, the result of a complaint brought by the U.S. fertilizer company Mosaic. The vote was four-to-one in the decision which followed a determination by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) that the imports were subsidized by the governments of Morocco and Russia. Chair Jason Kearns, Vice Chair Randolph Stayin, and Commissioners Rhonda Schmidtlein and Amy Karpel voted in the affirmative while Commissioner David Johanson voted in the negative. DOC will now issue countervailing duty orders on imports of phosphate fertilizers from Morocco and Russia. The USITC will issue a final report Phosphate Fertilizers from Morocco and Russia that will contain the views of the Commission and information developed during the investigations. The report is to be made available by April 13. USITC will provide their determination to DOC March 30. Morocco's OCP issued a statement countering the ITC ruling, saying there is “no basis” for the imposition of a 19.97% countervailing duty on exports of phosphate fertilizer from Morocco. “Despite this decision, OCP recognizes the supply challenges that American farmers face and is determined to serve them in the future, and will explore the most appropriate options to do so,” OCP said.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 15, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Starting a new week, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and take a timeout at 8 a.m. CST to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. As usual, USDA's weekly grain inspections report is set for 10 a.m. CST and this time is followed by USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook at 11 a.m. and a weekly cattle slaughter summary later Monday morning. Weather Monday brings moderate to heavy snow to the north-central Plains and northern Midwest, with moderate to locally heavy rain moving through the central and southern Midwest. This storm system brought record heavy rain and snow to the western and central Plains and western Midwest during the past weekend. Moisture is beneficial for winter wheat and for drought easing, but hazardous for safety, transportation and livestock. A new system forming in the Far West will cross the Plains and Midwest later this week

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 12, 2021 |


Senate Ag Committee Holds Climate Change Hearing The Senate Agriculture Committee held its first hearing on climate change Thursday. Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, says sustainable practices farmers are using now help cut down their emissions. Stabenow says, “now it’s time to dramatically scale up this work.” Oklahoma Farmer Clay Pope, representing National Farmers Union, detailed how the Department of Agriculture helped his farm convert to no-till and cover crops. Pope says, “Our investment in soil health has helped us better prepare for climate change in a way that’s helped both our bottom line and the environment.” Cori Wittman, representing the Environmental Defense, told the committee, “we need robust investment and research” to develop methods to address agriculture’s role in climate change. Wittman called on lawmakers to support the design of voluntary, incentive-based programs. Top Republican on the Committee, John Boozman of Arkansas, says, “While protecting our climate is critical, we must avoid a heavy-handed government approach.” The committee also heard testimony from representatives of USA Rice, GROWMARK and Arizona Farm Bureau. ************************************************************************************ EPA Considers Combining 2021-22 Biofuel Blending Targets The Environmental Protection Agency is mulling over the idea to combine 2021 and 2022 biofuel blending obligations, according to a report by Reuters. The EPA has in the past combined biofuel targets after missing deadlines, most recently in 2015, when it announced 2014, 2015 and 2016 targets at the same time. Biofuel targets must be published annually under the Renewable Fuel Standard, outlining how many gallons of biofuels like ethanol and biodiesel refineries must blend into fuels. Trump administration EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler opted to delay the announcement last year, awaiting action in a Supreme Court case. The RFS has been long plagued by a battle between the oil industry and the biofuels industry. Ethanol production reached five-year lows last month, following demand destruction from EPA small refinery exemptions and the coronavirus pandemic. However, the industry sees the Biden Administration's priority on climate as an opportunity to include biofuels in climate change policies. ************************************************************************************ AEM Reports Monthly Equipment Sales Farm tractor and combine sales continue to increase in both the U.S. and Canada, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. AEM released February sales data this week, showing U.S. tractor sales were up 41 percent from the same month last year. For the first two months in 2021, more than 32,000 tractors were sold, which compares to 23,900 sold through February 2020, representing a 34 percent increase year to date. For the month, sales of two-wheel drive smaller tractors, under 40 horsepower, were up 47 percent from last year. Sales of 40 to 100 horsepower machines were up 28 percent. Meanwhile, sales of two-wheel drive 100-plus horsepower tractors were up 46 percent, while four-wheel drive tractors sales were down three percent. Combine sales were down 19 percent for the month. Sales of combines for the two months totaled 544, increasing 25 percent over the same period in 2020. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Welcome Senate Confirmation of EPA Administrator Farm groups welcome the confirmation of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, hoping for more transparency than in previous administrations. Specifically, biofuels groups are seeking more support for the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Senate confirmed Regan to the post Wednesday. During his confirmation hearing, Regan emphasized that the "RFS is definitely a priority for this administration." Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor congratulated Regan, while saying, “Administrator Regan has been on the record supporting biofuels as critical to help meet an ambitious climate agenda.” Crop Life American President and CEO says Regan’s commitment to reaching out and working with agriculture, “will be critical in developing solutions to address climate and to enhance the credibility and transparency” at the EPA. House Agriculture Chair David Scott joined the crowd congratulating Regan. Scott says he’ll work with the new EPA administrator to “ensure EPA's pesticide registration programs remain trusted and science-based,” along with the role of the RFS to mitigate climate change. ************************************************************************************ World Pork Expo Slated to Return After Two Year Delay World Pork Expo is back on the schedule this year, following a two-year hiatus. The 2021 World Pork Expo will occur at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa, June 9-11. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, "We look forward to connecting with our fellow producers, business partners and others who contribute to our nation's essential pork production system." World Pork Expo in 2019 was canceled "out of an abundance of caution" as African swine fever spread at the time in foreign nations. The coronavirus pandemic forced cancelation of the event in 2020. NPPC will continue to monitor developments in COVID-19 guidelines for World Pork Expo to ensure the health and safety of all participants. Sorenson says, “A safe event is our number one priority, adding, “We will implement appropriate precautionary measures to ensure a great experience.” Registration information will soon be available online for those who plan to attend the 2021 World Pork Expo. ************************************************************************************ NASDA CEO Announces Retirement Barb Glenn, CEO of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, announced she would retire from her position this fall. Serving the organization over the last seven years, Glenn has marshaled NASDA as the unified voice for agriculture, but the organization says her influence on the industry stretches over her 40-year career. Glenn says, “It has been an honor to serve state agriculture departments and amplify their united voice.” NASDA President Ryan Quarles reflected on Glenn’s contributions, saying, “Glenn has worked tirelessly for more than four decades, benefiting all who rely on agriculture.” Glenn has spent her entire career serving the agriculture community. In 2014, Glenn was selected to serve as NASDA’s CEO. Glenn will remain in her position as NASDA CEO through early fall 2021 and will assist with the transition. NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association representing elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries and directors of state departments of agriculture.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 12, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Searching for Broader Support in Infrastructure Bloomberg is reporting this week that a key discussion underway now concerns whether the next legislative goal be bipartisan or single-party only? The current view is that the administration will need GOP support for central parts of an expected infrastructure package which can't pass through expedited procedures. After advancing the new COVID-19 relief package without Republican support, the Biden administration and congressional Democrats have signaled interest in greater bipartisan support for infrastructure and haven't ruled out using reconciliation to achieve that. One option would let them pass a bill without Republican support in the Senate, but would limit it to provisions that affect revenue or spending. “We don't prefer going solo,” said Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser at the White House. “We may have to do that, but that's not our first choice.” Tied to the infrastructure push, lawmakers face a Sept. 30 deadline to reauthorize highway, transit, and rail programs. Analysts think that much of what Congress would do in a surface transportation reauthorization bill, including moving funds from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund, can't be done under the current rules for budget reconciliation. That could make it harder to reauthorize highway programs at the same time enacting an infrastructure package. Reconciliation means problems for the administration's agenda because of things that “do not fit,” said Tori Gorman, policy director for the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that focuses on the federal budget. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., Chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, said he is “not ready to take any option off the table at this point.” Rep. David Price, D-N.C., chair of the House Appropriations panel that oversees transportation, said he is working with the administration to determine the best path forward — including how to structure a major infrastructure package alongside surface transportation reauthorization. His preference is to “move forward on a robust infrastructure stimulus plan that is as bipartisan as possible,” he said. “The reconciliation process comes with a host of restrictions and limitations, but it is a potential option,” he added. Neither lawmaker described how they would approach elements of the highway bill that can't be passed under reconciliation. The Senate's Byrd Rule, adopted in the 1980s, allows reconciliation to be used only for provisions that affect the deficit and prohibits “extraneous” material if Senators enforce the rule. Analysts say the traditional way that surface transportation programs have been funded wouldn't comply with that rule. The Highway Trust Fund, the main source of federal money for highways and transit, is nearing insolvency. Last year's House infrastructure bill, which some Democrats plan to use as the template for this year, included a $145.3 billion transfer from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund. That transfer likely wouldn't be possible in reconciliation because it wouldn't affect the deficit, said Jeff Davis, a senior fellow with the Eno Center for Transportation think tank. Outlays from the fund also wouldn't meet reconciliation requirements. Davis said highway bills passed using regular order have been able to inject funding into the trust fund to keep it solvent. “But the downside is that everything in reconciliation has to be completely on the mandatory side of the scorecard, which means that you can't really do any spending from the trust fund the way it's currently set up, and you can't do any bailout of the trust fund because those bailouts don't score,” he said. However, Congress could tweak the rate of the motor fuels tax — the main source of money for the Highway Trust Fund — under reconciliation since it would affect revenue, Davis said. Senators may also have an opportunity to include specific scoring directions in the budget resolution that would lay the groundwork for the bill passed using reconciliation, the Concord Coalition's Gorman said. The Biden administration campaigned on a $2 trillion infrastructure package to help with economic recovery and tackle climate goals. Mandatory spending on infrastructure could pass through reconciliation, but would need to follow stricter guidelines and might still face hurdles depending on decisions by the Senate Parliamentarian rules. Legislation under the Byrd Rule can't increase the deficit beyond a designated time frame, such as 10 years, so spending on infrastructure would have to be temporary or have a corresponding offset, said Zach Moller, deputy director of the Economic Program at the think tank Third Way. That restriction would make it difficult to fund larger projects like high-speed rail, which can take many years to develop and construct. So, we will see. There appears to be solid political support for infrastructure investment just now, but whether that would attract minority support in the Senate remains to be seen. This is likely to be an important debate producers should watch as it emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 12, 2021 |


Still Waiting On US-EU Tariff Suspensions In Aircraft Dispute The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative published the formal notice of the suspension of additional tariffs on goods from the UK for four months, with the tariff suspension effective March 4 in the civilian aircraft dispute. The UK had suspended its tariffs on U.S. goods as of January 1. But there has not yet been the formal notice on a suspension of tariffs between the U.S. and European Union (EU) that was announced this week. In announcing the two sides would suspend tariffs for four months in a bid to work out a resolution to the dispute, the countries said the suspension would be “effective as soon as the internal procedures on both sides are completed.” Presumably, that means for the U.S. side that the notice be published in the Federal Register, but so far there has been not action taken as of yet.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 12, 2021 |


Reuters: Biden EPA Mulling Combining 2021, 2022 Biofuel Requirements The Biden administration is mulling a plan to combine the 2021 biofuel (and 2022 biodiesel) proposed levels with those for 2022 biofuels (and 2023 biodiesel). This would not be without precedent, as there was a similar action in 2015 when the Obama administration issued the 2014, 2015 and 2016 biofuel requirements at the same time. EPA did not comment on the possibility except to say the agency was looking at options. The coming biofuel decisions are among several the Biden EPA has in front of them, including decisions on small refinery exemptions (SREs) which they say will not be made until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a case relative to the 10th Circuit Court decision which invalidated three SREs for the 2016 compliance year. EPA has also come out and said they now back the 10th Circuit reading, signaling that the administration may make limited use of the SREs in the future.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 12, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will release its report on producer prices at 7:30 a.m. CST Friday, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. Traders will look over the latest weather forecast and watch for any news of export sales ahead of the weekend. USDA has yet to announce any daily export sale for an old-crop grain or oilseed in March. Weather Moderate to locally heavy rain is in store for portions of the southern Plains and southern Midwest Friday. The rain will improve soil moisture for winter wheat but also brings a threat of flooding. We'll also see periods of snow in the western High Plains. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. The forecast continues to suggest heavy rain and snow in the central U.S. during the weekend and early next week.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 11, 2021 |


American Rescue Plan Act Passes Congress Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack touted provisions in the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress this week. The House of Representatives passed the bill Wednesday afternoon, following previous Senate approval, which made a few changes to the legislation previously passed by the House. Vilsack says, “America’s farmers, ranchers and producers will reap the benefits of the American Rescue Plan as more resources flow through the economy.” In rural America, Vilsack says the plan provides significant investments to help struggling homeowners pay their mortgages, property taxes and property insurance. It expands rental assistance and funds broadband to schools and hospitals, and other community facilities. He adds, the bill “provides historic debt relief to Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and other farmers of color who for generations have struggled to fully succeed due to systemic discrimination and a cycle of debt.” National Farmers Union says the bill “provides a lifeline” for struggling Americans and takes “several steps towards more meaningful, enduring improvements” in the food system. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Welcome Death Tax Repeal Legislation Legislation introduced in both the House and Senate would eliminate the estate tax. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act temporarily doubles the estate tax exemption to $11 million per person indexed for inflation through 2025. However, without congressional action, the estate tax exemption will revert to $5.5 million per person in 2026, putting even more farms and ranches at risk. And some lawmakers are hoping to end the extension to pay for spending priorities. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “Eliminating the estate tax removes another barrier to entry” for future family farmers. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jerry Bohn says, “The estate tax disproportionately harms cattle producers because with few options to pay off tax liabilities," while announcing the organization's support for the bills. The effort, however, is largely symbolic. Previous efforts failed to gain traction during the Trump administration, when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate. ************************************************************************************ USDA Delays Signup for Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands The Department of Agriculture is postponing the Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands signup originally planned to start mid-March. Announced this week, USDA is currently evaluating the program and ways to increase enrollment. The Department says it will announce new signup dates in the coming weeks. CRP Grasslands helps producers and landowners protect grassland while enabling grazing activities to continue. Lands enrolled support grazing operations and promote plant and animal biodiversity. Lands are also protected from being developed. Timing of some activities, such as haying or mowing, may be restricted by the primary nesting season of birds. The CRP general signup began January 4, 2021. USDA’s Farm Service Agency extended the original deadline, and a new deadline has not been set. This signup includes increased opportunities for enrollment of wildlife habitat through the State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement initiative. The program provides annual rental payments for 10 to 15 years for land devoted to conservation purposes. ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Call on USDA to Support Biofuels Industry A group of Senators wants the Department of Agriculture to assist biofuel producers hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. The group includes Republican Senators John Thune and Mike Rounds of South Dakota and others, led by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar. Additional funding was added to the Commodity Credit Corporation by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stabilization Act. The lawmakers request Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack "use this explicit authority to aid the nation's biofuels industry." The Trump administration claimed using the funds would go against congressional intent. The lawmakers tell the Joe Biden administration that the funds are intended for the biofuels industry. The Senators write to Vilsack, “We have been encouraged by your recent statements at your confirmation hearing that you will fully utilize USDA resources to get biofuel producers back on track and will aid the Biden Administration in restoring the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard.” ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Create an Intelligence Office in USDA A Group of House Representatives this week introduced the Agricultural Intelligence Measures Act. The bill would establish an Office of Intelligence within the Department of Agriculture. The lawmakers say the office would utilize the intelligence community to ensure the Secretary of Agriculture is fully informed of all imminent threats to American agriculture. The highly specialized office would work to understand any efforts to steal U.S. agriculture knowledge and technology and develop or implement biological warfare attacks, cyber or clandestine operations, or other means of sabotaging and disrupting the agriculture industry. Introducing the bill, Arkansas Republican Representative Rick Crawford states, "the complex supply chain and invaluable nature of the agriculture industry means it is particularly vulnerable." Crawford adds that "Agriculture security is national security," calling the legislation a critical first step to safer food, farms and a safer future. Co-sponsor, Ohio Republican Representative Mike Turner, adds, the legislation “will help safeguard the agriculture industry” from foreign and domestic threats. ************************************************************************************ State Officials Recommend Enhancements to Farmers to Families Food Box Program State agriculture officials ask Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to provide recommend adjustments to the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture this week outlined recommendations to promote equity in farmers’ access to the program and remove unnecessary barriers of entry. Recommendations include considering the adverse impact on smaller farms when awarding contracts based on price, enabling vendors to curate boxes based on local preference and availability of food, and encouraging the participation of socially disadvantaged farmers. NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn states, “with some enhancements, we can extraordinarily expand the benefits of the program by allowing more producers to contribute and increasing the amount of food we can share.” NASDA members voted during the NASDA 2021 Winter Policy Conference to advocate for changes to the Farmers to Families Food Box program based on feedback from their relationships with farmers, ranchers, vendors and food box recipients.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 11, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Modified USDA Biodiesel Reports Coming Vegetable-based fuels are important markets for U.S. producers and future growth is expected. On the basis of biodiesel's environmental benefits, ease of use, availability of federal and state financial and other incentives, and the federal Renewable Fuels Standard Program contributed to the growth in U.S. biodiesel consumption/demand from about 10 million gallons in 2001 to about 2 billion gallons in 2016. The growth came in spite of reduced consumption (and imports) in 2017 through 2019 because of duties imposed in 2017 on imports from Argentina and Indonesia. This policy effectively removed all of those imports from U.S. supply in 2018 and 2019, EPA says. U.S. renewable diesel production, imports, and consumption are concentrated in California where nearly all of U.S. production and all imported renewable diesel are consumed “mainly because of the economic benefits for its use in California under California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard.” This week, Reuters is reporting that USDA and the U.S. Department of Energy plan to change two closely watched monthly reports to account for the rapid growth of the fuel. The report cited government sources and indicated that “surging demand for renewable diesel is part of a larger global transition to green fuels and could increase prices of crops such as soybeans and canola it is derived from.” Reuters said details about the planned new reports came from USDA's monthly World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates. The changes are expected to be in place as early as this spring, an agency official told Reuters. They would be included “only after the U.S. Energy Information Administration begins reporting more detailed data on the renewable diesel sector,” Keith Menzie, an economist at USDA's World Agricultural Outlook Board told Reuters. The EIA is planning to begin incorporating renewable diesel data in its Petroleum Supply Monthly report, with a goal to publish data for January by the end of this month, the agency said. The unusual change to USDA's WASDE report, viewed as the “global gold standard” of agricultural commodities data, would reflect the strong demand potential for soyoil at a time U.S. soybean supplies are the lowest in years. "We're taking our lead from EIA. When they start publishing data, we will add that to the WASDE table," Menzie said. "It could be as soon as May." Reuters notes that “renewable diesel” can power conventional engines without being blended with diesel derived from crude oil, making it attractive for refiners aiming to produce low-pollution options. Production of the fuel is expected to nearly quintuple over the next three years, according to investment bank Goldman Sachs. It uses a variety of feedstocks ranging from plant oils and animal fats to used cooking oil. The USDA's updated soyoil supply-and-demand forecast would combine information on use by biodiesel producers and renewable diesel producers to adhere to its reporting confidentiality guidelines, Menzie said. "This will allow us to be more granular in terms of the energy component and the food component," he said. Soyoil use by renewable diesel producers is currently included in a broad category of data that also includes use in food and livestock feed. The U.S. Energy Information Agency notes that most of the large trucks, buses, and tractors in the United States and around the world have diesel engines and that diesel-powered cars and light trucks are common in many countries. Most “diesel fuel” is refined from crude oil—"petroleum diesel.” Biomass-based diesel fuels are made from biomass or materials derived from biomass and include biodiesel and renewable diesel. They are mostly produced for use in diesel engines, but they can also be used as distillate heating fuels. Both fuels can be used as direct substitutes for petroleum diesel and provide the same vehicle fuel economy as petroleum diesel fuel does. In 2019, the United States consumed about 43 million barrels of biomass-based diesel fuel, nearly all consumed as biodiesel blends with petroleum diesel and data has not previously been reported specifically for renewable diesel consumption. However, the EPA estimates that total U.S. renewable diesel consumption was about 900 million gallons. Many countries encourage the use of biodiesel. In 2001, total world biodiesel consumption was about 0.3 billion gallons in at least 56 countries. U.S. consumption accounted for about 22% of the global total in 2016. So, we will see. It is no surprise that the new administration's programs will include additional support for biofuels, a move that can be expected to have positive price and returns impacts for producers, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 11, 2021 |


Former House Ag Chair Peterson To Join Combest, Sell Former House Ag Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, D-Minn., will join the Washington lobbying firm of Combest, Sell & Associates to “form a bipartisan alliance to protect and promote rural American and U.S. farmers and ranchers,” according to a release from the firm. Peterson his “vast experience” in an advisory and consulting role with Combest Sell & Associates, but will not be able to lobby in the near term due to restrictions on former lawmakers—Peterson was defeated in his reelection bid in November. Though unable to lobby, the firm said Peterson would “engage with current and future Combest Sell clients who seek to promote and protect policies that bolster U.S. agriculture and rural America.” Noting that that they can come at issues from “different political perspectives,” Tom Sell said teaming up with Peterson will promote “a dynamic and diverse U.S. ag sector rooted in the family farms that bring stewardship and entrepreneurial creativity to the critical work they perform each day.” Peterson said of joining the firm that Combest Sell has a “strong reputation” with their work on ag issues and that they now “we hope to raise the bar for all those affected by farm and food policy—providing wise counsel and building the case for strong and fair policies going forward.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 11, 2021 |


USDA's Vilsack Discusses Ag, Trade Issues With EU Counterpart USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with European Union Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Janusz Wojciechowski Tuesday, focusing on “environment, rural economies, and trade,” according to an email sent to news organizations from a USDA spokesperson. “The secretary stated that he looks forward to a positive working relationship with the EU, as our shared interests should help us find positive solutions to challenges facing agriculture, and address longstanding issues.” From the European side, Wojciechowski said on social media, “1st exchange with new US Secretary for Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. Happy to share similar views on issues of common interest such as sustainability, climate change and organics, where active bilateral cooperation is needed.” He also noted that “collaboration is crucial for both sides.” He also pointed to the suspension of tariffs in the civil aircraft dispute and agricultural quotas for the US following Brexit as signs of “positive bilateral work.” Reports indicate Vilsack did not focus on the EU Farm to Fork initiative, an effort heavily criticized by the Trump administration as potentially reducing EU food supplies and setting new trade barriers in place. Initial sessions between government officials are usually short on any substantive results and usually are characterized as positive or constructive by the officials involved. Future discussions on key areas of trade and ag policy will be even more important to monitor for those reasons.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 11, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CST Thursday. Traders will pause at 8 a.m. to see if USDA has an export sale announcement and check the latest weather forecasts for both South and North America. The U.S. Energy Department reports on natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Weather Light to moderate rain showers are in store from the southeastern Plains through the southern and eastern Midwest Thursday. We'll also see periods of snow in the extreme northern Midwest. Other primary crop areas will be dry. A storm system bringing snow to the Intermountain West is on track to be a heavy rain and snow producer in the central U.S. during the coming weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 10, 2021 |


Little Change in Latest WASDE Report The Department of Agriculture's latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand report offered little change from February estimates. Released Tuesday, this month's 2020/21 U.S. corn supply and use outlook is unchanged from last month. The projected season-average farm price is unchanged at $4.30 per bushel. U.S. soybean supply and use projections for 2020/21 are mostly unchanged this month. With soybean crush and exports projected at 2.20 billion bushels and 2.25 billion bushels, respectively, ending stocks remain at 120 million bushels, down 405 million from last year's record. The U.S. season-average soybean price is projected at $11.15 per bushel, unchanged from last month. Although current cash prices are significantly higher, prices received through January have averaged just over $10.00 per bushel, reflecting forward pricing at lower prices. The supply and demand outlook for 2020/21 U.S. wheat is mostly unchanged this month, but there are offsetting by-class changes to exports and imports. The season-average farm price is unchanged at $5.00 per bushel. ************************************************************************************ January Red Meat Exports Below Year-Ago Levels Amid Transportation, Labor Challenges U.S. beef and pork exports opened 2021 below the large volumes posted a year ago, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Beef exports totaled 105,000 metric tons in January, down two percent from a year ago, while value slipped three percent to $653 million. The decline was mainly due to lower beef variety meat shipments, as muscle cut exports were steady and accounted for a larger share of production than a year ago. January beef exports were strong to South Korea and continued to gain momentum in China. Following a down year in 2020, exports also rebounded to the Middle East. January pork exports totaled 248,600 metric tons, down nine percent from a year ago but slightly above USMEF's projections. Export value was down 13 percent to $642.8 million. Pork muscle cut exports were down 11 percent in volume and 15 percent in value, while pork variety meat shipments trended modestly higher than a year ago. ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends Free Meals to Children through Summer 2021 Due to Pandemic The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced the nationwide extension of waivers that allow all children to continue to receive nutritious meals this summer when schools are out of session. These flexibilities are now available through Sept. 30, 2021. USDA is extending the waivers to provide local program operators with clarity and certainty for the summer months ahead, when many children cannot access the school meals they depend on during the academic year. The waivers were previously extended only through June 30, 2021. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “We will do everything we can to make sure children get access to healthy.” The waivers extended Tuesday allow for safe meal distribution sites that serve all children for free, regardless of income. The waivers also allow meals served through the Summer Food Service Program and Seamless Summer Option – collectively known as “summer meal programs” – to be made available in all areas at no cost. ************************************************************************************ Application Deadline for REAP Program is Nears The application deadline for the Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, is quickly approaching on March 31, 2021. The REAP program is designed to help rural businesses and farmers to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. Funds may be used for the purchase, installation, and construction of renewable energy systems, such as a $2,500 minimum and $500,000 maximum grant. The loan guarantee percentage is published annually in a Federal Register notice. REAP loans approved in Fiscal Year 2021 will receive an 80 percent guarantee. Grants are for up to 25 percent of total eligible project costs, and combined grant and loan guarantee funding is up to 75 percent of total eligible project costs. Grants can be used for projects including biomass, geothermal use, hydropower, wind generation and solar. Other examples include energy efficiency improvements, insulation, lighting, refrigeration units, doors and windows and switching irrigation from diesel to electric. Contact your USDA Service Center to learn more. ************************************************************************************ Sheep Genetics USA Looks to Guide Research The sheep industry seeks genetic research and implementation through Sheep Genetics USA. Unveiled at the 2021 American Sheep Industry Convection, the program is a bridge that will provide a pathway for the American sheep industry to the innovations of the future. Producers of the National Sheep Improvement Program this week say, "For several years, there's been interest in creating a structure that could represent all of the breeds of sheep." The driving force behind these changes will be the producer members of Sheep Genetics USA, a group that will include representation from all aspects of the industry. Seedstock producers, commercial producers, lamb feeders, researchers and consumers will be represented within the group. Much of the early work of Sheep Genetics USA has been based on the Beef Improvement Federation. Organizers have consulted with that group on the pitfalls faced in forming an organization geared toward genetic improvement in livestock. To learn more, visit SheepGeneticsUSA.org. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Business Network Launches Animal Health and Nutrition Platform Farmer's Business Network Tuesday launched an animal health and nutrition platform by acquiring the Prairie Livestock Supply business. FBN claims the move will provide more choice for independent livestock producers and more competition for their business. The acquisition adds Prairie Livestock Supply, a pharmaceuticals supplier for swine, beef, dairy, and poultry, and ProPig and ProCattle, a feed and nutrition services provider, to the FBN portfolio. The acquisition adds a team of 40 professionals, including veterinarians, animal health sales specialists, and nutritionists with expertise in swine, beef, dairy and poultry. FBN members in select states can now also access clinical veterinary services for beef cattle, swine, and dairy through FBN partners. With industry consolidation and increasing consumer interest in how food is produced, FBN says it “recognizes that livestock producers need every tool possible to maximize their profit potential and sustainability.” FBN’s Charles Baron says, "Improving both the producer economics and environmental sustainability of livestock is the best way to ensure farms are family-run for generations to come."

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 10, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US and China Diverge on Stimulus Plans Bloomberg is reporting this week that the U.S. and China are pursuing very different economic policies in the aftermath of the coronavirus recession — a role reversal since the last time the world economy recovered from a shock. One of the takeaways from the annual National People's Congress under way in Beijing now is a conservative growth goal, with a tighter fiscal-deficit target and restrained monetary settings, Bloomberg says. It notes the contrast with Washington and with the president's second major fiscal package now reaching final approval. This widening policy divergence is putting strains on exchange rates and could potentially reshape global capital flows. It stems, in part, from different policy lessons from the 2007-09 crisis. A stunted and choppy U.S. recovery in the 2007-09 period left key Democrats concluding it's vital to “go big” on stimulus and keep it flowing, Bloomberg said. For monetary policy the moral was: “Don't hold back” and “don't stop until the job is done,” Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said last week. China's leaders have a different take and different history. A massive unleashing of credit growth back then led to unused infrastructure, ghost towns, excess industrial capacity and an overhang of debt. While rapid containment of the pandemic meant the economy didn't need as much help in 2020, President Xi Jinping and his team are now winding things back to re-focus on longer-term initiatives to strengthen the technology sector and tamp down debt risks. This puts the world's two biggest economies on very different fiscal recovery paths. “Each learned a lesson from the previous episode,” said Nathan Sheets, head of global economic research at PGIM Fixed Income and a former U.S. Treasury undersecretary for international affairs. The policy mix now makes “a compelling case for renminbi appreciation,” he said. That's a view that's widely shared, Bloomberg thinks and it notes that the median forecast based on a recent survey is for a strengthening to 6.35 by the renminbi against the dollar by the end of the year, from 6.5114 in Shanghai late Tuesday. One of China's financial regulators, Guo Shuqing, highlighted in a briefing just days before the opening of the its legislative gathering that high leverage within the financial system must continue to be addressed. Guo pointed to worries about inflated property prices and the risk of overseas money pouring in to take advantage of the premiums China's assets offer. He also indicated the nation's lending rates will likely go up this year. Bloomberg said its economists believe that China is “increasingly shifting its attention from pandemic recovery to managing the economy in more normal conditions.” “Unlike many of its peers, including the Fed, China's central bank has continued to calibrate its policy partially with a view to prevent an excessive rise in asset prices,” said Frederic Neumann, co-head of Asian economics research at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong. In three appearances in the past fortnight, Fed chair Jerome Powell has made clear that the Fed plans to keep policy rates near zero until well into the economic recovery, when most jobless Americans are brought back into employment. As China contends with capital inflows, the U.S. is likely to be pumping out a greater supply of dollars into the global economy — via a widening current-account deficit — as its growth revs up, supercharged by the coming stimulus and the Fed's easy stance. The U.S. approach is very different with its “outsized” coronavirus relief bill and a planned longer-term follow-up, said Robin Brooks, chief economist at the Institute of International Finance. As growth soars past 6% this year, a wider current-account deficit will be “the pressure valve” given domestic production constraints, he said. Brooks projects that deficit will hit 4% of gross domestic product this year — the highest since large shortfalls during the 2002-08 period. China's reluctance toward the kind of “go big” message of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen dates back several years. After unleashing a fiscal package of 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion, at the time) and an unprecedented surge in broader credit after the 2008 crisis, Beijing was already by 2012 saying it wouldn't do that again. This reticence later turned into a concerted push to rein in leverage. A May 2016 front-page treatise in the People's Daily blasted excessive debt as the “original sin” sowing risks across financial and real-estate markets. The anonymous article — widely said to have been written by Vice Premier Liu He, Xi's top economic adviser — called stimulating the economy through easy monetary policy a “fantasy.” So with the country's success in applying draconian restrictions to contain the coronavirus, it should come as little surprise that Beijing is returning toward its pre-pandemic focus on building domestic tech capabilities and managing down debt risks. By contrast, “the U.S. locomotive is back on track,” said Catherine Mann, global chief economist at Citigroup Inc. So, we will see. The very large fiscal interventions likely will make the U.S. economy fairly difficult to manage and at least somewhat more vulnerable to shocks — developments producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 10, 2021 |


USDA Seeks Comments On Food Programs USDA is seeking public comment by March 31 on deploying aid to the U.S. food industry that was contained in the December COVID aid plan. The Ag Marketing Service will also hold a listening session March 19 via Zoom on the topic. The December aid plan would provide no less than $1.5 billion to purchase food and agricultural products, including seafood, fresh produce, dairy, and meat products, to distribute to individuals in need, including through delivery to nonprofit organizations that can receive, store, and distribute food items, and for grants and loans to small or midsized food processors or distributors, seafood processing facilities and processing vessels, farmers markets, producers, or other organizations to respond to coronavirus, including for measures to protect workers against COVID–19. The agency said it was specifically seeking feedback from “smaller businesses, new and beginning farmers and ranchers, socially disadvantaged producers, veteran producers, and underserved communities, and/or organizations representing these entities.” The agency is also seeking feedback by March 31 on a “food purchase and distribution program intended to provide additional aid to nonprofits serving Americans in need of nutrition assistance.” The program, “If implemented… will serve as a successor to the temporary food box purchase program created in April 2020 in response to the rapidly developing crisis within the food supply chain and increased joblessness due to COVID-19.” The agency said while the Food Box program did work well in some areas, there were issues in others. A March 22 listening session via Zoom is planned for that effort. It is still fully expected that some form of the Food Box program will continue in the future even as it could be modified and potentially renamed

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 10, 2021 |


FSA Notes ARC/PLC Enrollments Still Lag The March 15 deadline for enrollment in the Ag Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC) safety net programs is approaching and there is still a swath of farms that have not yet been enrolled, according to the Farm Service Agency (FSA). The agency said that 1.4 million farms have been enrolled in the program, or about 81% of what they agency said is typically enrollment of 1.7 million farms out of the 2.3 million farms in the U.S. that have base acres. The level the agency announced Monday is up from 1.29 million as of March 1. FSA offices “in many instances” have used appointments that go beyond the March 15 deadline and those are going to be considered being on a “register” for enrollment. FSA said that counties are not to use a register unless the producer requests an appointment after March 15 or the county cannot complete the activity by March 15. All enrolled contracts are required to be approved within 30 calendar days after the enrollment deadline, FSA noted, and those on the register are to be completed “as soon as possible” after the March 15 deadline.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 10, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Inflation-watchers will keep an eye on the Labor Department's report of consumer prices for February, due out at 7:30 a.m. CST. At 9:30 a.m., the Energy Department will release its weekly report of energy inventories, including ethanol. The U.S. Treasury reports on the federal budget for February at 1 p.m. CST. Weather and exports will also be part of traders' attention. Weather Wednesday features a swath of moderate to locally heavy precipitation across the northern Plains and northern Midwest, occurring as rain east and snow west. Areas south of the precipitation swath will have very windy and warm conditions including widespread fire threat in the southern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 9, 2021 |


USDA to Investigate Government’s Role in Spread of COVID-19 in Meat Processing Facilities The Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Inspector General is initiating an audit of USDA actions that may have contributed to the spread of the COVID-19 in meat processing facilities. The USDA OIG initiated the audit in response to Senator Michael Bennet's request, a Colorado Democrat, who asked for an investigation last August. Bennet says high infection rates early in the pandemic at meat processing plants raise "serious questions about any federal actions that may have contributed to the spread of the virus." The USDA OIG investigation will address Bennet's specific concerns in his August letter, including inquiries into USDA actions following the executive order that invoked the Defense Production Act. USDA will also review department actions taken to communicate the federal government's authority, standards, and expectations with State Departments of Health and USDA actions to ensure inspectors' health and safety and protocols in response to COVID-19 positive tests at meat processing facilities. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Dairy Industries Unite in Seeking Canadian TRQ Administration Reform U.S. dairy groups Monday issued joint comments on Canada’s Phase II Consultations on its Comprehensive Review of the Allocation and Administration of Tariff Rate Quotas for Dairy, Poultry, and Egg Products. The groups include the U.S. Dairy Export Council, the National Milk Producers Federation and the International Dairy Foods Association. The three organizations, which have repeatedly expressed concerns on the issue related to commitments in the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, are united in that Canada must dramatically reform its policies regarding the administration and allocation of its TRQs. The joint comments elaborate on those TRQ compliance concerns, outlining that the U.S. dairy industry insists upon realizing the full benefit of the USMCA market access Canada committed to provide. In 2020, the United States exported almost $676 million in dairy products to Canada, well short of the gains estimated to occur under USMCA by the U.S. International Trade Commission in its 2019 report. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Biofuels Industry Supportive of Proposed Canada Clean Fuel Regulations U.S. biofuels and grains organizations welcome Canada’s proposed Clean Fuel Regulations. Growth Energy, the U.S. Grains Council and the Renewable Fuels Association submitted joint comments to Environment and Climate Change Canada last week on the proposal. The groups say, “The proposed regulation takes a market-based approach to driving carbon reductions in the Canadian fuels market, providing an attractive model for other countries to follow.” The groups add Canada should be applauded for showing global leadership on the implementation of a clean fuel standard. In their comments, the organizations noted the importance of allowing renewable fuel producers to account for carbon capture and sequestration in their carbon intensity scores, regardless of whether the fuel is produced in Canada or the United States. This regulation, the groups say, coupled with the recent announcement in the United Kingdom that it is moving from E5 to E10 by September, shows that more countries are committed to expanding the role of biofuels in meeting their Paris Agreement commitments and long-term environmental goals. ************************************************************************************ NASA Data Powers New National Agricultural Statistics Service Soil Moisture Portal Farmers now have access to high-resolution NASA data on soil moisture thanks to a new tool developed by the National Agricultural Statistics Service in collaboration with NASA. The tool, Crop Condition and Soil Moisture Analytics, provides access to high-resolution data from NASA’s Soil Moisture Active Passive mission. Soil moisture data are critical for professionals in the agriculture and natural resource sectors who use soil moisture in tandem with other data to plan crop planting, forecast yields, monitor droughts or floods, and improve weather forecasts. According to Rajat Bindlish, a research associate in Earth science remote sensing at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, the tool provides more thorough spatial coverage and consistency than other soil moisture measurement methods. Bindlish says, “This will provide a means of using NASA remote sensing data to guide predictions of moisture conditions and water availability. The tool is available for free online (https://cloud.csiss.gmu.edu/Crop-CASMA/). ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $285 Million to Improve National Forest and Grassland Infrastructure The Department of Agriculture will invest $285 million to help the Forest Service. Announced Monday, the investment will help address deferred maintenance and improve transportation and recreation infrastructure on national forests and grasslands. The $285 million investment comes from the newly created National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund. The fund was established in 2020 by the Great American Outdoors Act. The funding allows the Forest Service to implement more than 500 infrastructure improvement projects essential to the continued use of national forests and grasslands. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “these investments will promote public-private partnerships, tourism and recreation, protect public lands, and ensure our national forests are accessible to all.” Investments in 2021 will improve recreation facilities, visitor centers, dams and trails. Other projects aim to increase public access by restoring and repairing roads, trails, bridges, tunnels and parking areas. The Great American Outdoors Act authorizes funding under the Legacy Restoration Fund annually through fiscal year 2025. ************************************************************************************ Missouri Senator Blunt Won’t Seek Reelection Missouri Senator Roy Blunt will not seek reelection following his current term. Senator Blunt made the announcement in a video Monday, while referencing his roots growing up on a Missouri dairy farm. He’s one of now five Republican Senators who have announced retirement after their current term expires. Other notable Republican Senators to agriculture, Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, have not yet announced their intentions for another term or retirement. The Missouri Farm Bureau called Senator Blunt a “tireless champion” for Missouri Agriculture. Missouri Farm Bureau President Garrett Hawkins states, “Our farmers and ranchers have been blessed to work with him in support of agriculture and Missouri values,” adding, “We look forward to working with Senator Blunt during his remaining time in office.” The 71-year-old Blunt was first elected to serve in Washington to the House of Representative in 1996, before moving on to the Senate in 2011.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 9, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Administration Setting Stage for Infrastructure Bill The Washington Post is reporting this week that White House is not shying away from extolling the implications of the recent $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill — one of the most expensive recent pieces of legislation in terms of its single-year impact. Instead, we are already seeing an enthusiastic pitch for spending that will set the stage for President Joe Biden's wide-ranging jobs and infrastructure bill that's expected to come next — with an even higher price tag, the Post says. The approach is a departure from the Obama-Biden approach, as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently noted. She said that administration had insufficiently explained "to the American people the benefits" from the stimulus passed in the 2009 economic crisis "in terms that people would be talking about at their dinner tables." The Post says the new proposals will “also reflect the evolution of the politics on deficit spending and diminished potency of attacks on federal spending programs. “Even though deficits are higher this time around, centrist Democrats are more unified behind passing the measure and the GOP rejected it "but in a more muted fashion than in 2009," the report said. However, the Post also argues that the infrastructure package “is likely to be a harder sell.” Democrats are considering as much as $3 trillion in new spending for the cornerstone of the president's "Build Back Better" program. It will need to clear 60 votes in the divided Senate and Republicans, who criticized Biden for ditching his bipartisan approach to pass the COVID relief bill without any Republicans, are describing the infrastructure plan as "bad politics" and "wildly expensive" and are indicating they eventually intend to campaign against it. Democrats, by contrast, plan to go on the offensive — and to argue that the relief package is badly needed and overwhelmingly supported by an American public amid a health crisis that's killed 524,000 people in the U.S. The Post said that Democrats claim that "everything we are seeing in our polling” is that the Build Back Better framework, including its emphasis on clean energy investments, is as popular as the American Rescue Plan has been. “If Republicans are as obstructionist about that as they were about the rescue bill, they will pay a similar political price," the report said. Looking back, Democrats also argue that former President Trump upended the GOP's commitment to smaller deficits over the course of his four years in the White House. "It's been a major shift. People have gone from being anti-government to beyond being even neutral, to believing that the government “has to help us,” former Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., told the Post. "You have a new consensus in America — that the government has an important role. For the first time in my lifetime, people are saying that the government has done too little rather than doing too much," Frank said. The Post also reported that Democratic lawmakers and aides say they have heard very few complaints from constituents about “concerns that the relief plan will drive up the deficit. Even senators representing states that President Trump won by huge margins, such as Jon Tester, D-Mont., have gone along with the bill's price tag," the article said. The Post also notes that former Obama adviser Dan Pfeiffer called the plan a "huge accomplishment" and that Democrats will get credit for doing the right thing and Republicans will only get blame for doing the wrong thing if people know about it," Pfeiffer wrote in his newsletter. The Post says that the White House is glossing over disputes over the minimum wage and unemployment insurance that showed cracks in Democrats' narrow majority — and argue that President Biden has no plans of resting on any laurels. "There's still much more to be done and absolutely no room for complacency," the White House wrote. "We're racing to finalize passage of this bill, and the President looks forward to signing this into law. And then the real work will begin." The Post article also included what it called a “reality check, the real disagreements between the Democratic Party's liberal and centrist wings, as well as Biden's instincts for procedure and bipartisanship. These and other disputes over the past week on issues ranging from the minimum wage to a new budget director also provided fresh warning signs for the rest of the administration's priorities, which will require a unified Democratic Party and little room for error against Republican opposition," the Post noted. So, we will see. Crafting an infrastructure bill that is anywhere near as widely supported as the COVID relief bill has been will be extremely tricky and will certainly attract more bitter opposition — as well as new support. This will be a program that will directly affect producers' interests and which should be closely watched as the effort gets underway, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 9, 2021 |


USDA Reopens Comment Period On Regulation Of GMO Animals USDA has now reopened the comment period on its notice of proposed rulemaking USDA published in December which stated USDA would be the agency responsible for regulating animals produced via genetic modification. The comment period on USDA's notice ended February 28. But USDA today published a notice in the Federal Register that they have reopened the comment period and it will now close May 7 on the proposed rulemaking “establishing regulations for the movement of certain animals modified or developed by genetic engineering.” The action by USDA took some by surprise as it marked the agency wresting control of the issue from FDA. It is not clear whether the reopened comment period reflects any potential shift back to FDA on the topic.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 9, 2021 |


US Ag Exports Edge Down But Remained Strong In January U.S. agricultural exports totaled $15.47 billion in January, down slightly from the monthly record of $15.91 billion registered in December. But it still marked a fourth straight month of U.S. ag exports topping $15 billion, something that has not been seen based on data going back to the 1970s. Ag imports rose to $12.83 billion, a new record, and up from $11.65 billion in December. That left a trade surplus of $2.65 billion for January. So far in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, U.S. ag exports total $62.05 billion against imports of $47.46 billion for a surplus so far of $14.59 billion. USDA is currently forecasting FY 2021 ag exports at $157 billion and imports at a record $137.5 billion which would leave a trade surplus of $19.5 billion. The situation with ag exports clearly reflects China's stepped-up purchases (and shipments) of U.S. ag goods and has translated into U.S. ag exports above $15 billion for four straight months. But the rise in imports to a new record has come earlier than usual — typically the high-water marks for imports come during the March-May timeframe. That suggests expectations are that the monthly trade data ahead will see the gap between export and import values continue to narrow.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 9, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets USDA's WASDE report, set for 11 a.m. CST is the highlight of the day with no other significant reports on Tuesday's docket. As usual, traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sales that might emerge. Weather Dry, windy and warm conditions will cover most primary crop areas Tuesday. Fire danger will be high in the southwestern Plains. Rain and snow move into northern crop areas Wednesday, followed by precipitation in southern areas at the end of the week.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 8, 2021 |


Agriculture Responds to Senate Passage of $1.9 Trillion COVID Package The Senate Saturday passed the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package. The package, known as the American Rescue Plan, will extend federal unemployment benefits, offer up to $1,400 in direct payments to individuals earning less than $80,000, and increase funding for several nutrition assistance programs. Additionally, it authorizes several provisions to bolster rural and agricultural communities, including a pilot program to facilitate the distribution of vaccines and other medical supplies in rural areas, debt relief for historically disadvantaged farmers, and $4 billion to build resilience in the food system. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says, “This legislation provides a lifeline that will help keep families afloat until their hardships subside. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated, “I am grateful to the U.S. Senate” for passing the bill, adding the American Rescue Plan is historic, “namely for the transformative debt relief it provides to Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and other farmers of color.” Vilsack says USDA stands ready to these important provisions of the bill once it clears Congress and is signed into law by President Joe Biden. ********************************************************************************************** Drought Conditions Persist in the Main Corn Growing States As farmers are ramping up toward planting season, drought conditions continue in many of the top corn-growing states. Last week, the U.S. drought monitor showed 11 percent of Midwest acres are in moderate drought. Over half of the High Plains are in a severe drought, and 19 percent of the region is experiencing extreme drought conditions. For example, Iowa, the number one corn-producing state, faces extreme drought conditions in the northwest part of the state. Roughly 10 percent of Iowa is in a severe drought. Soil moisture is more favorable in Illinois, but the central part of that state is abnormally dry. A small part of the east-central region is in moderate drought. Nearly all of Nebraska faces some moisture stress at this point, with the southwest corner of the state in extreme drought. The entire state of Minnesota is abnormally dry, with about 40 percent of the state, especially in the northern third, in moderate drought. Only nine percent of the acres in Indiana are in moderate drought, primarily in the northwest part of the state. More than half of Kansas is abnormally dry, while drought conditions are severe in half of South Dakota. Ohio and Missouri have much less drought to deal with than other states. About 61 percent of Wisconsin is abnormally dry, with almost half of Michigan in the same category. ********************************************************************************************** Corn Export Sales Drop to New Marketing-Year Low Point Export sales dropped to a new low in the marketing year last week, while soybeans and wheat sales improved. USDA data says corn sales to overseas customers dropped to 115,900 metric tons in the seven days that ended on February 25. That’s 74 percent lower than the previous week and 96 percent lower than the prior four-week average. Sales were still solid to China as the southeast Asian nation bought 1.05 million metric tons of corn, followed by Mexico at 181,900 tons. The USDA report says unnamed buyers canceled shipments totaling 1.76 million metric tons. On the other hand, exports last week totaled 2.01 million metric tons, a high point for the current marketing year and 69 percent higher week-to-week. Soybean sales totaled 334,000 metric tons, higher than the prior week but 33 percent lower than the previous four-week average. Mexico was the big buyer at 139,700 metric tons, but unknown buyers canceled 351,400 tons of soybeans that same week. Exports rose 18 percent to 1.16 million metric tons last week. Wheat sales were 219,200 metric tons, a 31 percent increase from the previous week but 51 percent lower than the four-week average. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Suspends Some Tariffs on U.K. Goods While it won’t have a large effect on farmers immediately, the Biden Administration is suspending some tariffs on goods from the United Kingdom. No longer a member of the European Union, the United Kingdom said in December that it will suspend tariffs on the U.S. tied to the World Trade Organization ruling against Boeing Airline subsidies. It was a move that trade experts say was a goodwill gesture and a sign that the British government is hoping to resume negotiations on a free trade agreement now that the Biden Administration has taken power. “The United States will now suspend retaliatory tariffs in the Airbus dispute for the next four months,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative says in a statement. “This will allow time to focus on negotiating a balanced settlement to the disputes and begin seriously addressing the challenges posed by new entrants to the civil aviation market from non-market economies like China.” Aviation Week Dot Com says the U.S. move shows the Biden Administration followed through on campaign promises to build a coalition of allies that will confront China on trade together. China still maintains billions of dollars’ worth of duties on imports of U.S. agricultural commodities. ********************************************************************************************** Americans Support Tough Stance on China President Biden inherited a challenging relationship between the U.S. and China, including a trade war, tariffs on both sides, human rights issues, and more. A Pew Research Survey shows that 89 percent, almost nine-in-ten adults, consider China a competitor or enemy rather than a partner. Many Americans also support taking a firmer approach to the bilateral relationship, whether by promoting human rights in China, getting tougher on China economically, or even limiting the opportunities of Chinese students to study abroad in the U.S. Many in the survey also said China’s powerful economy, its dominance as a manufacturing center – sometimes at the expense of the environment or workers – and issues related to the U.S. and Chinese economic relationship are concerns. Overall, Americans see the current economic ties with China as tenuous: around two-thirds (64%) describe economic relations between the superpowers as somewhat or very bad. Just over half of the survey respondents said they have confidence in Biden to deal effectively with China. Partisan politics are far apart on the issue: 83 percent of Democrats say they have confidence in Biden to deal effectively with China, compared to only 19 percent of Republicans who say the same thing. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Grains Council Trying to Regain Market Share in Egypt The U.S. Grains Council is working to regain market share in Egypt. The new two-prong strategy focuses on U.S. corn performance in the starch sector and improving local storage conditions. Egypt is the largest importer of corn in North Africa, bringing in 10 million tons (303 million bushels) annually. However, U.S. corn exports to Egypt have suffered in recent years from strong competition from the Black Sea and South American imports. In the 2018-2019 marketing year, Egypt was the ninth-largest U.S. corn market and the leading importer of U.S. corn co-products in the Middle East region. The USGC is focused on improving the image of U.S. corn after it arrives in Egypt through two programs. The first focuses on highlighting the superior performance of U.S. corn in the industrial starch sector, and another focusing on improving existing storage constraints. The Council recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the largest corn importer in Egypt to improve storage conditions for grain destined for the Egyptian feed and wet-milling industries, with an additional objective of stemming negative effects on downstream industries. USGC is also focusing not only on building a short-term market but also long-term Egyptian trust in food security through trade. ************************************************************************************ Chicago Company Launches Dairy-Based Sports Drink A Chicago-based start-up company launched GoodSport, a sports drink that’s 97 percent dairy and aims to compete nationally against leading brands. The first-of-its-kind natural sports drink is made with the goodness of milk and backed by science. GoodSport will soon be available on Amazon and at www.goodsport.com, but broader retail distribution is planned for later this year. The product was launched with support from the dairy checkoff and other industry groups, including the checkoff-funded Center for Dairy Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The university showed GoodSport how ultrafiltration could harness milk’s electrolytes, vitamins, and carbohydrates and remove its protein to create a clear, light beverage with a mouthfeel that consumers expect from a sports drink. GoodSport also learned how to source its main ingredient sustainably. Dairy companies often ultrafilter milk and use the protein to make products like cheese but can’t use the nutrient-rich part of the milk, called permeate. That means GoodSport rescues a byproduct from dairy companies to produce its beverage. “GoodSport carries dairy’s healthy halo,” says Pennsylvania dairy farmer Marilyn Hershey, who serves as chair of Dairy Management Incorporated. “It not only offers delicious refreshment and nutrition from dairy, but it supports our industry’s sustainability mission. It’s a new way to talk about milk, and it’s exciting for dairy farmers.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 8, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Carbon Banks for Farmers Bloomberg is reporting this week that USDA is exploring making a carbon bank for farmers — and is beginning an intense examination of how to structure a carbon market that would encourage broad participation. Questions raised include whether to guarantee a minimum price for credits given for reducing emissions, Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday. “We will be exploring in depth how we could structure appropriately a carbon bank that would be designed for and benefit farmers,” Vilsack said. “Would it require a price guarantee on carbon? Would it require a program that invests and provides resources for the capital costs associated with capture of carbon?” Vilsack also warned that despite the big Chinese purchases that recently have buoyed agricultural markets, the Asian nation remains a “fickle trade partner” that could shift directions if geopolitical tensions escalate. He also committed to a “deep dive” to examine competition in livestock markets now dominated by a few giant meat and poultry processors. He laughed off a question about whether he will remain in his post for President Joe Biden's full first term, responding “What are you going to do four years from now?” Vilsack previously served as agriculture secretary the entire eight years of Barack Obama's presidency. Vilsack, 70, was confirmed last week by the Senate and takes the top spot at USDA after some volatile years for farmers amid the Trump administration's trade war with China. While a deal with the Asian country was eventually reached, the USDA still continued its large aid program for growers amid the pandemic's economic blow. A focus on climate change, which Vilsack said is “the priority” in the coming 12 months, would be a big shift from his predecessor. “Farmers will understand and appreciate we are quite serious about it,” he said. The USDA chief said no decisions have yet been made on what specific actions the administration will take to reduce greenhouse emissions but that his department is examining “an array” of approaches including changes to existing conservation programs, a carbon bank and altering crop insurance premiums. Different premiums for farmers based on whether they adopt climate-friendly practices “is in the mix to take a look at,” he said. He noted that private carbon banks have already been set up in some cases, but “clearly aren't yet attracting enough interest among farmers.” Vilsack said he plans to devote “significant” resources to climate initiatives, though he said he doesn't “have a number in mind” for funding. He said climate initiatives will be more than a “pilot program or proof of concept,” though they will initially be “small scale” as the department builds experience and a record that will generate support in Congress. Vilsack said his team believes the administration has authority to immediately fund climate initiatives by tapping the borrowing authority of the Commodity Credit Corp., the Depression era entity recently used to finance his $28 billion trade bailout. But he said his team is still figuring out whether the entity's congressionally authorized credit ceiling will allow “meaningful” climate funding without disrupting farm subsidy programs also financed through CCC. The wave of Chinese grain purchases in recent months that have helped buoy U.S. farmers' financial outlook remain vulnerable to the vicissitudes of relations between Washington and Beijing, so it is crucial that farmers diversify trade partners, he said. China has “great demand and great need” for U.S. farm purchases, he said. But, “anything at any point in time can disrupt the balance that exists,” and “all bets are off” if conflict arises. Though China fell short of its purchase commitments during the first year of the phase one trade deal, Vilsack said he is “not aware of any” effort by Beijing to renegotiate commitments under the agreement. He added that it isn't “going to be particularly helpful” to make use of any sanctions in the trade agreement for shortfalls in purchases during the first year, particularly since the deal allows adjustments based on market conditions. “If you want to continue the trade, and you poke them in the eye on that issue, it doesn't make sense to me,” he said. Vilsack this week appointed Andy Green as a senior adviser on competition. Green was previously a fellow at the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, which has issued reports critical of concentration in agribusiness. The agriculture secretary said the department will in particular focus on meat and poultry processors following disruptions in the industry during the pandemic and other events. “There needs to be a focus on the processing capacity in the country and whether or not it's incredibly concentrated and does that not only create issues with competition but, as important, does it also create resiliency questions with the supply chain,” he said. So, we will see. The carbon bank issue has considerable support in rural areas, observers say, and it likely can be crafted so that it fits the administration's efforts to support green policies. These are policies that producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 8, 2021 |


Stabenow Downplays Concern Over PAYGO Impacts on Farm Programs The warning that U.S. farm programs could face sizable cuts due to PAYGO budget rules that was raised by Senate Ag Committee Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., was tamped down by panel Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. Congress will do what it has done before, Stabenow said, which is to waive the requirement to offset spending that would trigger major cuts to mandatory programs like farm programs. Boozman warned that U.S. ag programs could see sizable cuts in the wake of the stimulus plan via sequestration.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 8, 2021 |


US, EU Suspend Tariffs in Civil Aircraft Dispute The U.S. and European Union (EU) announced a suspension of retaliatory duties aimed at reaching a negotiated solution in the dual civil aircraft disputes, this following the same announcement from the U.S. and UK March 4. “The European Union and the United States today agreed on the mutual suspension for four months of the tariffs related to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Aircraft disputes,” a joint statement from U.S. and EU trade officials read. “The suspension will cover all tariffs both on aircraft as well as on non-aircraft products and will become effective as soon as the internal procedures on both sides are completed.” Under the suspension, the U.S. and EU are seeking to “to ease the burden on their industries and workers and focus efforts towards resolving these long running disputes at the WTO,” the statement said. The move means $7.5 billion in U.S. tariffs on EU goods and $4 billion in tariffs levied by the EU on U.S. goods will be lifted for at least four months, including many ag products like spirits, cheeses, and pork. However, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday that if the U.S. and EU are to rekindle talks towards a trade deal they must include agricultural goods.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 8, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will check the latest weather forecasts to start the week with an eye on the late soybean harvest in Brazil and dry conditions in Argentina. Export sales have quieted lately, but there is always a chance USDA will have an announcement at 8 a.m. CST. There is a report on U.S. wholesale inventories at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's weekly grain export inspections at 10 a.m. Weather Dry conditions will cover all primary crop areas Monday. Temperatures will be above to much above normal, favoring transportation and livestock but unfavorable for winter wheat in dry areas of the Southern Plains. Rain and snow are in store for the Northwest Tuesday, crossing into the Northern Plains Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 5, 2021 |


FAO Food Price Index Rising for Nine Straight Months The Monthly Food Price Index averaged 116.0 points in February 2021, 2.4 percent higher than January, marking the ninth month of consecutive rise. The index by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reached its highest level since July 2014. The increase was led by strong gains in the sugar and vegetable oil sub-indices, while cereals, dairy and meat also rose but to a lesser extent. International sorghum prices increased the most, up 17.4 percent in February and 82.1 percent above year-ago levels, driven by ongoing strong demand from China. International corn prices also rose .9 percent from the previous month. Wheat export prices remained nearly stable in February, but up 19.8 percent from last year. Vegetable oil prices continued strength reflected by firmer prices. Dairy prices were up 1.7 percent, and meat prices up .6 percent. The report found sugar prices up 6.4 percent from January, the second consecutive monthly increase and its highest level since April 2017. ************************************************************************************ Farm Futures: Why Farmers Feel Threatened by Biden Administration A recent Farm Futures survey found why farmers feel threatened by potential policy objectives under the Biden administration. The survey shows nearly nine of every ten farmers believe taxes will go up under a Biden administration. Another 71 percent believe WOTUS will be overturned. Only 22 percent believe markets will stabilize with a new trade strategy. And four of every five farmers believe there will be fewer government ad hoc funds going to agriculture. An Iowa farmer told Farm Futures, "I am worried about everything in that survey." The publication points out the unease in farm country today feels similar to farmer attitudes after President Barack Obama was elected. And while farm organizations and lobbyists engage with new political leaders on Capitol Hill, it may be some comfort to remember that, "when it comes to ag policy, usually the worst doesn't happen, but you need to be prepared for changes," according to a Farm Futures analyst. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Seek Passive of COVID-19 Bill with Relief for Minority Farmers A coalition of agriculture groups urges lawmakers to support emergency relief for farmers and ranchers of color. In a letter to leadership of the House and Senate, the coalition says they are "committed to improving the financial and rural development interests of this nation's Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and People of Color farmers and ranchers." Specifically, the coalition urges lawmakers to support the Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act. Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, introduced the legislation last month. The legislation would provide $4 billion in direct relief payments to help farmers of color pay off outstanding USDA farm loan debts and related taxes, and help them respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic. The bill provides Another $1 billion fund to root out systemic racism by expanding the capacity of USDA to provide technical and legal assistance to agricultural communities of color and to fund under-resourced programs that will shape the future for farmers and communities of color. ************************************************************************************ Ethanol Production Rebounds from Recent Collapse Ethanol production rebounded last week, according to data from the Energy Information Administration and the Renewable Fuels Association. For the week ending February 26, ethanol production scaled up 29.0 percent following the prior week lull, or 191,000 barrels per day, to 849,000, equivalent to 35.6 million gallons daily. Production remained 21.3 percent below the same week last year. The four-week average ethanol production rate decreased 2.6 percent, equivalent to an annualized rate of 12.85 billion gallons. Meanwhile, Ethanol stocks declined 1.6 percent, which was 10.2 percent below a year ago. Inventories drew down across all regions except the Midwest. The volume of gasoline supplied to the U.S. market, a measure of implied demand, recovered by 13.1 percent to 124.9 billion gallons. Gasoline demand was 11.3 percent less than a year ago. Refiner and blender net inputs of ethanol improved by 12.3 percent to a nine-week, and there were zero imports of ethanol reported for the week. ************************************************************************************ Farm Workforce Modernization Act ‘Step in the Right Direction’ Legislation introduced in the House of Representatives, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, would reform the H-2A visa program to address the agricultural labor shortage. Representatives Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat, and Dan Newhouse, a Washington state Republican, introduced the legislation this week. Among other provisions, it would amend the H-2A program to allow a capped number of visas for farmworkers to work year-round. National Pork Producers Council's recently elected President Jen Sorenson says the organization "believes this legislation is a step in the right direction." The U.S. pork industry is largely dependent on foreign-born workers. NPPC says visa reform is needed to ensure that U.S. livestock agriculture can compete globally and continue to provide safe and affordable pork to Americans and consumers worldwide. The National Milk Producers Federation also welcomed the legislation. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern stated, “This bipartisan bill takes a significant step toward ultimately addressing through legislation the workforce crisis plaguing American agriculture.” ************************************************************************************ Wicker, Peters Reintroduce FLOODS Act A group of Senators this week reintroduced the Flood Level Observation, Operations, and Decision Support, or FLOODS Act. The legislation seeks to establish a National Integrated Flood Information System. The lawmakers say the bill would improve the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s forecasting and communication of flood, tornado and hurricane events. Senator Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican, along with Michigan Democrat Gary Peters, reintroduced the bill. Wicker says recent flooding events in his state "underscore the importance of an effective understanding and response to high water." The bill would establish partnerships with institutions of higher education and federal agencies to improve total water predictions, designate a service coordination hydrologist at each National Weather Service River Forecast Center and evaluate and improve flood watches and warnings. Additionally, the legislation encourages NOAA to evaluate acoustic tracking and measuring of windstorms, use aerial surveys of floodwaters to improve flood mapping, and improve modeling of freshwater outflow into the ocean.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 5, 2021 |


Washington Insider: China's National Digital Currency The New York Times is reporting this week that China is testing a new digital currency. It described the experience of Annabelle Huang who recently won a government lottery to try China's latest economics experiment. After joining the lottery through the social media app WeChat, Huang, 28, a business strategist in Shenzhen, received a digital envelope with 200 electronic Chinese yuan, or eCNY, worth around $30. To spend it, she went to a convenience store near her office and picked out some nuts and yogurt. Then she pulled up a QR code for the digital currency from inside her bank app, which the store scanned for payment. “The journey of how you pay, it's very similar” to that of other Chinese payments apps, Huang said of the eCNY experience, though she added that it wasn't quite as smooth. China is running a “bold effort” to remake the way that government-backed money works, rolling out its own digital currency with different qualities than cash or digital deposits, the Times says. The country's central bank, which began testing eCNY last year in four cities, recently expanded those trials to bigger cities such as Beijing and Shanghai. The effort is one of several by central banks around the world to try new forms of digital money that can move faster. Many countries have taken action as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have become more popular. But while Bitcoin was designed to be decentralized so that no company or government could control it, digital currencies created by central banks give governments more of a financial grip. These currencies can enable some funds to expire if not used by a particular date and can make it easier for governments to track financial transactions, fight tax evasion and crack down on dissidents. Over the last 12 months, more than 60 countries have experimented with national digital currencies, up from just over 40 a year earlier, according to the Bank for International Settlements. The countries include Sweden, which is conducting real-world trials of a digital krona, and the Bahamas, which has made a digital currency, the Sand Dollar, available to all citizens. By contrast, the United States has moved slowly and done just basic research. At a New York Times event last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen indicated that might change. She asserted that an American digital currency was “absolutely worth looking at” because it “could result in faster, safer and cheaper transactions.” Still, no major power is as far along as China. Its early moves could signal where the rest of the world goes with digital currencies, NYT says. “This is about more than just money,” said Yaya Fanusie, a fellow at the Center on Economic and Financial Power, a think tank, and an author of a recent paper on the Chinese currency. “It's about developing new tools to collect data and leverage that data so that the Chinese economy is more intelligent and based on real-time information.” While the Chinese government has not said if and when it will officially introduce the eCNY nationwide, several officials have mentioned having it ready for tourists visiting for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. Recent articles and speeches from officials at the People's Bank of China underscored the project's ambitions and the desire to be first. The development of a national digital currency began in 2014, when the People's Bank of China set up an internal group to work on one. People recently have been invited to currency trials through a lottery on WeChat or other apps and were able to click on a link and get a balance of 200 electronic yuan. To spend the money, users can use an eCNY app to scan a retailer's QR code or produce a QR code that the retailer can scan. The design of eCNY borrows only a few minor technical elements from Bitcoin and does not use the so-called blockchain technology, officials from the People's Bank of China have said. So far, only a limited number of retailers have taken the currency. But early users said the experience was so similar to Chinese digital payment options like Alipay and WeChat Pay that it would not be hard to switch to it if it were rolled out nationwide. Eswar Prasad, the former head of the International Monetary Fund's China division, said one of the most important factors driving the eCNY was the success of WeChat Pay and Alipay. Both have given rise to a new alternate financial system that has worried Chinese officials and led to a recent crackdown on Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba and Ant Financial, which owns Alipay. If the eCNY is successful, it will give the central bank new powers, including novel types of monetary policy to help the economy grow. Some economists say China's digital currency would also make it easier for the renminbi to compete with the U.S. dollar as a global currency. But Chinese officials and analysts have said many other changes would be necessary for that to happen. So, we will see. So far, the prototype currencies often appear to be highly intrusive and the idea of basic new shifts in the nature of national currencies is deeply daunting. Such proposals should be watched closely by producers as they are debated and, perhaps, implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 5, 2021 |


Vilsack Reiterates Changes May Be Made To Food Box Program USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday told a National Press Foundation meeting that he does support the Food Box program deployed by the Trump administration and said that it would run through April, but again said there could be changes to the effort ahead and that no decision to continue it had been made. A review of the program is underway at USDA, Vilsack said, including that if the program or “something akin to a food box program” were continued, would it be on a smaller, more-targeted scale. “No decision has been made as to whether or not it will be extended and if extended what it will look like,” he said. He did suggest that one option could be to involve The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) as that program has an established distribution system in getting food out to nonprofits and charities. It still appears that the popular program will continue in some form given the overall concept has won backing of some key lawmakers. However, expectations have been that the effort will be tweaked from its initial version and it could be renamed or as Vilsack suggests, combined with another existing effort such as TEFAP.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 5, 2021 |


Group Seeks Supreme Court Review of California's Prop 12 The North American Meat Institute has filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review an earlier ruling of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit regarding the constitutionality of California's Proposition 12 — The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative. “Prop 12 hurts the family on a budget by causing higher prices for pork, veal and eggs, and unfairly punishes livestock producers outside of California by forcing them to spend millions just to access California markets,” Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts said in a release. “If this unconstitutional law is allowed to stand, California will dictate farming practices across the nation.” The Meat Institute argued the Ninth Circuit's decision conflicts with those of other federal appeals courts regarding whether the constitution limits a state's ability to extend police power beyond its territorial border via a trade barrier dictating production standards. It also said Prop 12 insulates in-state farmers from out of state competition, while “imposing crushing burdens” on out of state producers with no political voice to shape the rules.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday March 5, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday morning's reports start at 7:30 a.m. CST with U.S. nonfarm payrolls and February unemployment from the U.S. Labor Department and the January trade deficit from the U.S. Census Bureau. Later Friday morning, USDA will release more specific export data for January. The latest weather forecasts will also be noted, along with any export sales news that might appear. Weather Light to moderate rain showers are in store for much of the Southern Plains Friday. Moisture will be important for winter wheat ahead of exiting dormancy. Other crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be much above normal in northern areas and seasonal to above normal elsewhere.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 4, 2021 |


Ag Bankers Signal Strong Recovery in Farm Finance Farm income and agricultural credit conditions improved significantly according to agricultural lenders across major portions of the U.S. in the fourth quarter. Despite turbulent conditions related to the ongoing pandemic, prices of several agricultural commodities increased sharply in the final months of the year. Dramatic improvements in crop prices drove the sharpest turnaround in agricultural lending conditions in more than a decade, according to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. On average, farm loan repayments increased for the first time since 2013. The rate of loan repayment increased from a year ago in all participating Federal Reserve Districts except Dallas, with the fastest pace of increase reported in the Minneapolis and Chicago Districts. Other financial indicators also shifted quickly in the fourth quarter as borrowers experienced relief from previous years of financial stresses. On average, loan demand contracted at the fastest pace since 2013 and fund availability increased at the fastest pace since 2013, according to agricultural bankers. ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Welcome Cattle Market Transparency Act Farm and livestock groups this week welcomed introduced of the Cattle Market Transparency Act. Senators Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican and Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, introduced the legislation. The bill establishes regional mandatory minimum thresholds of negotiated cash and negotiated grid trades to enable price discovery in cattle marketing regions. The legislation would also require USDA to create and maintain a publicly available library of marketing contracts between packers and producers in a manner that ensures confidentiality. Finally, the bill mandates that packers report to USDA the number of cattle scheduled to be delivered for slaughter each day for the next 14 days and require USDA to report this information daily. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, U.S. Cattlemen’s Association and American Farm Bureau all responded favorably to the bill. NCBA welcomed a discussion on market transparency, stating, “We have worked and will continue to work alongside our affiliates, Congress, and USDA toward regionally robust negotiated trade.” ************************************************************************************ Vilsack: Hungry Americans Need the American Rescue Plan Now An editorial by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack supports passage of the American Rescue Plan. The legislation, passed by the House and up for consideration in the Senate, is President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion economic relief package to help the nation recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Specifically, Vilsack says the plan is "one of the strongest pieces of legislation in recent memory dedicated to addressing hunger and food insecurity." Vilsack says hunger has increased throughout the pandemic, with as many as 30 million adults and 14 million children living in a household where they may not always get enough to eat. Further, the pandemic has exacerbated longstanding disparities in food insecurity. The American Rescue Plan provides funding to USDA to expand federal nutrition assistance programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, and a complimentary program that helps mothers and children under five and other emergency benefits to children, seniors, and the disabled. ************************************************************************************ Senate Ag Plans Climate Hearing The Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on Climate Change next week. Committee leadership announced the hearing, titled, Farmers and Foresters: Opportunities to Lead in Tackling Climate Change. The hearing, planned for Thursday, March 11, follows a similar hearing held by the House Agriculture Committee. Last week’s House Agriculture Committee hearing on climate change focused on how farmers and ranchers can help lessen the burden. The hearing included comments from American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall, who pointed out carbon sequestration, achieved through land management, contributes to greenhouse gas removals equivalent to 12 percent of total U.S. emissions. Duval says, “with increased investment in agricultural research, we can develop the new frontier technologies to capture even more carbon in our croplands, our forests and our grasslands.” Addressing climate change is a priority of the Biden administration. The House and Senate Agriculture Committees are expected to discover ways farmers and ranchers can be part of the solution. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Elects New Officers, Board Members The National Pork Producers Council Wednesday elected new officers and members to its board of directors at the National Pork Industry Forum. Jen Sorenson was introduced as the 2021-2022 NPPC president. For the past decade, Sorenson has been with Iowa Select Farms, an Iowa farming business that markets more than five million hogs per year. Sorenson takes over from Howard “AV” Roth, a hog farmer from Wisconsin, who becomes NPPC's immediate past president and chairman of the council's trade and nominating committees. Terry Wolters of Minnesota was elevated to president-elect. Scott Hays of Missouri was elected to serve as NPPC vice president, and Rob Brenneman of Iowa and Jeb Stevens of Indiana were elected as new members of the board. Additionally, delegates passed two resolutions, including one supporting CME Group's Pork Cutout contract, which was introduced in November 2020. Delegates also passed a resolution to delay an increase to the contribution rate of NPPC’s strategic investment program until July 2022. ************************************************************************************ Bayer Offering Free XtendiMax Application Training Bayer Crop Science has free training available to farmers and applicators using the XtendiMax herbicide with VaporGrip Technology and the new XtendFlex soybeans. A company spokesperson says, "we will continue to support our customers to help with proper stewardship so they can achieve great weed control and strong harvests." Bayer offers a variety of free training options - including live webinars every Wednesday at 9 a.m. Central through the end of March 2021, self-guided online modules, and limited in-person workshops for customers unable to connect online. Bayer will continue offering training up until the application cutoff dates this summer. Applicators can sign up for training at RoundupReadyXtend.com/Training. XtendiMax herbicide remains a restricted use pesticide, and all certified applicators must undergo annual training to use the technology. The Bayer-led trainings explain the new label requirements in a clear and easy-to-understand way. Bayer has also updated the XtendiMaxApplicationRequirements.com webpage, which details the application requirements.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 4, 2021 |


Washington Insider: The Pandemic and Long Term Jobs Growth Projecting how many people will work in hundreds of detailed occupations in 2029 is a bold exercise — even without the uncertainty of the pandemic. However, the New York Times this week said that U.S. Department of Labor experts attempt to do just that. And their latest assessment of which jobs will grow over the next decade has alarming implications for jobs requiring less education — while also forecasting a boom for epidemiologists and other health-science jobs, the Times said. That assessment, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, emphasizes all the uncertainty that accompanies projections and it stresses that these are estimates of structural changes, not forecasts of cyclical booms and busts. Long-term projections are often wrong, especially for more volatile sectors like mining and construction, but the agency's estimates are typically well reasoned and sober. The original BLS projections, made last year without taking pandemic effects into account, called for cumulative economy-wide job growth of 3.7% from 2019 to 2029. The new pandemic-informed projections cut that to 2.9% in the “moderate impact” pandemic outlook and 1.9% in the “strong impact” one. Both of these new outlooks assume more remote work and higher demand for relevant technology services; less in-person entertainment and travel; and more investment in public health than would have happened without the pandemic. In the “strong impact” projection, there would be 25% more epidemiologists in 2029 than the original baseline projection for 2029, the largest increase among nearly 800 detailed occupations. The 10 occupations with the biggest increase in projected employment relative to the baseline projection are all in medical, health-science and technology fields. The 10 occupations with the largest declines relative to the baseline projection include restaurant, hotel and transportation jobs. On balance, the new projections modestly speed up the occupational shifts from the original baseline projections. For instance, the pandemic is poised to accelerate the originally projected fast growth in software developer jobs and to hasten a previously expected decline in cashier jobs. The projected employment changes because of the pandemic are concentrated in a relatively small number of sectors. Three-quarters of all jobs are in occupations where projected employment in the strong-impact scenario differs from the original baseline scenario by less than 2%. For the most part, the sectors originally projected to grow fastest over the next decade in the baseline projection—like nurse practitioners, home health aides and many other health care occupations—are still projected to grow fastest. Similarly, the sectors originally projected to shrink most—such as administrative assistants, mail carriers and product inspectors—are still projected to decline similarly in the pandemic-affected scenarios. Across all occupations, the correlation between employment growth in the original projection and the strong-impact pandemic projection is 0.92—with a correlation of 1 representing a perfect relationship. The sectors facing additional job loss because of the pandemic tend to be low-wage sectors where workers are already struggling. The strong-impact pandemic projection shows the lowest-paying occupations losing jobs over the decade. This would be a significant shift from the original pre-pandemic projections, in which growth was greatest in the highest- and lowest-wage occupations, with middle-wage occupations lagging. The pandemic could end up replacing polarized growth with a net loss of lower-wage jobs. Grouping occupations by educational requirements instead of wages tells a similar story. For jobs requiring a bachelor's or graduate degree, projected upbeat employment growth remains nearly the same under the pandemic-affected picture as in the original baseline. The decline in projected employment growth because of the pandemic is almost entirely concentrated in jobs requiring only a high school diploma or no diploma. Still, the pandemic makes forecasting a risky business, the Times notes. Near-term projections of GDP or unemployment hinge on things like the rate of virus mutations and vaccine distribution. Longer-term predictions depend on how much the pandemic permanently changes how we work and spend. But the pandemic has already widened existing inequalities; these new projections suggest that the unequal effect on jobs could long outlast the pandemic. So, we will see. As the Times noted, long term forecasting is always tricky business. And while the specific trends and rates are almost always wrong, the process is considered highly useful for its descriptions of the factors affecting the changes. In addition, the article notes to a strong degree the factors that give competitors for good jobs a leg up likely will continue to be important to agriculture and other sectors and should be watched closely by producers as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 4, 2021 |


Vilsack Signals He Backs Food Box Program, But With Adjustments USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has come out in favor of the Farmers to Families Food Box program, albeit with some tweaks. “I think that I have been convinced that there are a number of areas — remote areas in particular — that have been served by this program where people have received fresh fruits, vegetables and other products that they might not otherwise have gotten but for the program,” Vilsack told Politico in an interview this week. “I like that aspect of what's happened with this program. I am a little concerned about the fact that there seems to be quite a significant difference between the level of reimbursement for people who are administering the program and implementing the program. That is a concern. At the end of the day, you want as many dollars going into the boxes, as opposed to into the pockets of the people filling the boxes. I think there needs to be an examination of that.” In remarks Wednesday, Vilsack would not comment on whether the program would run beyond April. However, the effort has won the backing of key lawmakers like Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., further raising expectations the effort will be a part of the food/nutrition programs ahead.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 4, 2021 |


Vilsack Meets With Mexican, Canada Ag Leaders USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack held virtual discussions Tuesday with Mexican Secretary of Agriculture Victor Villalobos and with Canadian Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau. Vilsack said on Twitter that Mexico is “not only a key trading partner, but also an important collaborator as we address climate change and food security.” The two committed to boosting scientific and technological cooperation at all levels on agriculture. Villalobos said that the objective “is to achieve better production and guarantee food security.” Vilsack said that the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico was “strengthened with the Treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada (T-MEC), which gained relevance in the context of the pandemic.” Vilsack also said that the two sides will “work to increase the productivity, with sustainable practices of all farmers, and in reaching being self-sufficient in the North America region.” Relative to his discussion with his Canadian counterpart, Vilsack said he expected to work with her on “climate smart food and forest practices and delivering science-based solutions to help mitigate and reduce climate change.” From the Canadian side, Bibeau said they agreed on a mutual interest in championing rules- and science-based international trade, with both sides agreeing that working on those issues is key for agriculture, according to the Canada Newswire. “Secretary Vilsack and I share many priorities and we committed to supporting each other's efforts to build a sustainable agricultural sector that strengthens our rural economies, and feeds our people at home and abroad,” Bibeau said in a statement. There was little mention on either side relative to trade issues between the parties such as dairy and Canada and products like potatoes with Mexico. However, Villalobos will be visiting Washington to discuss issues like biotechnology, fertilizer management, and trade issues such as U.S. access to the Mexico market for fresh potatoes and Mexican access to the U.S. market for avocados from Jalisco, according to a report from marketresearchtelecast.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday March 4, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, a report on U.S. productivity in the fourth quarter and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all due out at 7:30 a.m. CST. The U.S. Energy Department's report on natural gas inventory is at 9:30 a.m. Otherwise, traders will be looking at the latest weather forecasts and any fresh export news that might emerge. Weather Another dry day is in store across the primary crop areas Thursday. Temperatures will be mainly above normal. A weather system bringing snow to the southern Rockies is indicated to be a rain maker in the southwestern Plains Thursday night and Friday. This moisture would be important for winter wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 3, 2021 |


February Ag Economy Barometer Results February's Ag Economy Barometer reading of 165 changed little compared to January when the index stood at 167. Announced Tuesday, producers continue to report strong current conditions on their farms as February's Current Conditions Index value of 200 is near its all-time high. Continuing a trend that got underway last fall, however, the Index of Future Expectations drifted lower to 148, three points below its January reading. February marked the third time in the last four months that the Future Expectations Index declined, leaving it 20 percent below its October peak. Ongoing strength in ag commodity prices and farm income continue to support producers' perspective on current conditions. Concerns about possible policy changes affecting agriculture and eroding confidence in future growth in ag trade continue to weigh on producers' future expectations. Producers also indicated they expect to see alternative protein sources increase market share in the years ahead. If the market share becomes significant, they think it’s likely to reduce aggregate farm income. ************************************************************************************ Stabenow Introduces New Bill to Boost Clean Energy Senator Debbie Stabenow this week introduced a new bill to boost manufacturing by providing a tax credit to manufacturers who retool or build facilities to produced clean energy parts. The Michigan Democrat, who also chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee, introduced the American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act. The legislation would provide a 30 percent tax credit to manufactures to create jobs that draw on existing skilled workforces and reinvest in communities experiencing high unemployment. Stabenow says, "Transitioning to a clean energy economy creates significant opportunities." The bill is part of Stabenow's American Jobs Agenda. The legislation would, according to Stabenow, Strengthen American manufacturing by providing $8 billion for a tax credit to manufacturers that retool, expand or build new facilities that make parts and technologies needed to reduce carbon emissions. Companies eligible to apply for the tax incentive include those making batteries, electric and fuel cell vehicles, semiconductor chips, components to produce renewable energy, carbon capture and others. ************************************************************************************ Hypoxia Task Force Sends Letter to EPA, USDA Leadership States in the Hypoxia Task Force urge Biden administration leaders to continue partnership and support with the coalition. The task force recently penned a letter to leadership at the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture. Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Mike Naig, who serves as the co-chair of the task force, states, "Working together, we can improve our local waters and the Gulf of Mexico." The task force is a partnership of 12 states and five federal agencies that work collaboratively to reduce nutrient-loading throughout the Mississippi River Basin and the size of the hypoxic zone in the northern Gulf of Mexico. The group’s action plan has a near-term target of reducing nutrient-loading to the Gulf from the basin by 20 percent by 2025, and a long-term goal of limiting the Gulf hypoxic zone to an average annual size of less than 5,000-square kilometers by 2035, subject to the availability of resources. ************************************************************************************ Optimism in Beef Industry Fueled by Strong Demand Despite pandemic disruptions, consumer demand for beef at home and around the globe remained strong in 2020. CattleFax says that trend will continue in 2021 and beyond, especially as foodservice operations begin to fully reopen. The data was presented during the recent Cattle Industry Convention Winter Reboot. The strong demand, combined with expected higher cattle prices, signal an optimistic future for the beef industry. According to CattleFax CEO Randy Blach, cattle numbers will continue to contract in 2021, and producers will gain leverage on packers and retailers, and margin distribution will be more equitable. Packing capacity is expected to increase slowly with the addition of more small-scale plants, and U.S. meat exports will continue to grow. Overall, profitability is expected to improve significantly for cow/calf producers. In 2020, total meat sales volume at retail was up ten percent and total dollar sales at retail up 18 percent, with beef's share of the increase in spending accounting for 45 percent or $5.7 billion. ************************************************************************************ USCA Supports Strengthening Local Processing Act The United States Cattlemen’s Association this week announced its support of The Strengthening Local Processing Act. Introduced last month, the legislation will increase local livestock and poultry producers' options and assist smaller facilities as they adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic and expand to meet consumer demand. The legislation was introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree, a Maine Democrat, and Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican, in the U.S. House. USCA Vice President Justin Tupper of South Dakota says, “Local and regional meat processors are critical in securing our nation’s food supply, and by offering this technical and financial assistance, we can better help set them up for success.” USCA says four multinational meatpacking companies control over 80 percent of the meatpacking business in the U.S., adding, "expanding the reach of independent processors brings more competition to the marketplace." The legislation will increase the federal share of state inspection costs from 50 to 65 percent and for Cooperative Interstate Shipment facilities from 60 to 80 percent, encouraging more states to operate state inspection programs. ************************************************************************************ Krysta Harden Promoted to President/CEO of U.S. Dairy Export Council Dairy Management Inc. and the U.S. Dairy Export Council announced the promotion of Krysta Harden from chief operating officer to President and CEO. Harden was named COO in May 2020. During that time, she continued her role as executive vice-president of global environmental strategy for DMI, which manages the national dairy checkoff for 34,000 dairy farmers. Harden succeeds former USDEC President and CEO Tom Vilsack, who has been confirmed as secretary of agriculture in the Biden administration. Harden becomes the third president and CEO to lead USDEC since its founding by DMI in 1995 and is its first female chief executive. Before joining DMI, Harden served as Chief Sustainability Officer with Corteva and DuPont. Harden also spent seven years working with Vilsack at USDA. Harden states she will continue the aggressive approach established by Vilsack at the organization “engaging USDEC member companies, exporters, and dairy producers in export market development efforts.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 3, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Expected Break With Past Trade Policy Katherine Tai, President Biden's pick for United States Trade Representative, promised lawmakers during her confirmation hearing last week that she would work with Congress to help reinvigorate the economy and aggressively enforce American trade rules against China, Mexico and other trading partners. Tai, in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, said her background challenging China's unfair trade practices in the Obama administration had given her knowledge of “the opportunities and limitations in our existing toolbox.” She promised to work with allies and enforce the terms of the trade deal that President Donald Trump signed with Beijing last year, while working to develop a more “strategic and coherent plan” for competing with China's state-directed economy. As trade representative, Tai would work toward several of the Biden administration's key goals, including helping to restore American alliances abroad and reforming and enforcing American trade rules to help alleviate inequality and mitigate climate change. In her testimony last week Tai promised to ensure that trading partners adhered to new trade rules, including the agreement that Trump signed with China last year and new measures included in the revised North American trade deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). She declined to give many specifics on the trade policies the Biden administration would pursue, saying instead she would review existing tariffs and trade negotiations. But she laid out a philosophy on trade that would support broader, more equitable growth and “recognize that people are workers and wage earners, not just consumers,” which she said would be a significant departure from the past. Biden and other Democrats have complained that the trade policies of previous presidents were often driven by the interests of corporations and lobbyists, and ended up surrendering the interests of lower-wage workers for the benefit of certain businesses and exporters. Trade policy for the past several decades had often fallen “into a pattern where one sector of our economy and one segment of our workers feel like their livelihoods and their opportunities are sacrificed to another part of our economy,” Tai said. She said the administration would try “to break out of that pattern, so that what we are doing in trade is coordinated with what we are doing in other areas, but also not forcing us to pit one of our segments of our workers and our economy against another.” Asked about the tariffs that Trump had placed on foreign metals, Tai said that tariffs were “a legitimate tool in the trade toolbox,” but that the global steel and aluminum industries faced larger problems with overcapacity that might require other policy solutions. She also said that she was aware of “the many concerns” that had arisen with the process of companies applying for exclusions from the tariffs, and said that reviewing that system with an eye to transparency, predictability and due process would be “very high on my radar.” If confirmed, Tai would be the first woman of color and first Asian-American to serve in the position. Tai also said that she wanted take a role in a new Biden administration effort to strengthen critical supply chains, saying that past trade policy had focused on efficiency rather than resilience, and needed to be rethought. She said that she shared the Trump administration's goal of bringing supply chains back to America, but that the prior administration's policies had created “a lot of disruption and consternation,” adding, “I'd want to accomplish similar goals in a more effective, process-driven manner.” She pledged to re-engage the United States at the World Trade Organization, which the Trump administration largely bypassed or ignored, but acknowledged that the global trade group faced big challenges to its effectiveness. The United States can't afford not to be a leader in the organization, she said, but “the WTO does need reform.” Ms. Tai also expressed interest in resolving a long-running trade dispute between the European Union and the United States at the World Trade Organization over subsidies given to the plane makers Boeing and Airbus, which has resulted in a volley of tariffs. “If confirmed, I would very much be interested in figuring out — pardon the pun — how to land this particular plane,” Tai said. Senators of both parties were mostly complimentary of Tai's experience and trade knowledge, though several Republican senators expressed concerns about her failure to commit to free trade in principle, and to pledge to aggressively drive forward new trade negotiations. Senator Mike Crapo, R., Idaho, praised Tai's extensive experience in trade, but raised concerns about Biden's pledges to address domestic priorities first before signing any new trade deals. “Our businesses and workers are ready to sell American to all foreign customers right now,” Mr. Crapo said. “Our businesses need that access more than ever because other countries are not standing still.” Tai said she planned to review the trade negotiations with Britain, saying that the country's departure from Europe, the coronavirus pandemic and other developments since negotiations started in 2018 demanded new consideration. Asked about rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a multi-country trade deal negotiated by President Obama that Trump withdrew from, Tai said that she would work with like-minded countries in the Asia-Pacific on the issue of China, but stopped short of calling for rejoining the TPP. The “basic formula for the TPP.,” of the United States engaging with countries with shared strategic and economic interests with the challenge of China in mind “is still a sound formulation,” she said. “I think what I would add is a lot has changed in the world in the past five or six years, and a lot has changed in terms of our own awareness of some of the pitfalls of the trade policies that we've pursued as we've pursued them over the most recent years,” she said. So we shall see. The new administration is entering into the trade arena with a person leading the trade agenda that may not have the global recognition, but she is experienced in the enforcement side of the equation. That is something that must be monitored ahead, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 3, 2021 |


House Ag Chair Scott Eyes Moving Disaster Aid Out Of Appropriations Process House Ag Committee Chairman David Scott, D-Ga., spoke virtually before the National Farmers Union convention, relating discussions with President Joe Biden about getting COVID-19 vaccines to processing plants and rural areas. He also wants a rethinking of disaster relief, noting that “what we've done in Congress in the past is not getting the aid down to our farmers in time.” The solution, he said is creating legislation for establishing an “independent funding mechanism” away from the regular appropriations process, which he called “too political.” Observers note this appears to be yet another effort that lawmakers and this administration are eyeing to utilize the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) authority. That has been the case in the past when lawmakers have sought to move something outside the annual appropriations process. As more and more of these efforts are being considered, it also appears to be a way to build support for expanding the CCC borrowing authority from the current $30 billion level.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 3, 2021 |


USDA's Vilsack Predicts Far Less Use Of Small Refinery Exemptions Biofuel policy is already a focal point for USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, with the USDA chief telling the National Farmers Union (NFU) Monday he has already been working with Michael Regan, nominated to be Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator, to strengthen America's ethanol industry and address the issue of small refinery exemptions (SREs), a politically charged issue during the Trump administration. “We're not going to see the kind of liberal use of waivers that were granted in the previous administration,” Vilsack predicted. He added that USDA will work closely with EPA to ensure the RFS “is enforced and implemented appropriately,” adding that EPA needs to implement the Renewable Fuel Standard in a way that is “enforced and respected” throughout the administration. With EPA already stating it backs the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on SREs, it is clear that potentially far fewer of those exemptions will be granted ahead. But the formal action on that front is awaiting a Supreme Court review of the 10th Circuit decision and the conclusion there is not expected until sometime this summer.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday March 3, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday's reports start with ADP's estimate of U.S. private sector employment at 7:15 a.m. CST, an early clue of Friday's unemployment report. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly energy inventory report at 9:30 a.m., a report that includes an estimate of ethanol production after February's cold snap. Traders will keep close watch on the latest weather forecasts and any export sales news that develops. Weather Dry and mild conditions will cover all primary crop areas Wednesday. Precipitation will be confined to periods of rain on the south Atlantic coast. This combination is favorable for livestock, transportation, and field drying in areas that had recent heavy precipitation. Shower prospects are indicated for the southern Plains during late week.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 2, 2021 |


Meat Institute Seeks Supreme Court Review in Case against California’s Prop 12 The North American Meat Institute recently asked the Supreme Court to review an earlier ruling in a challenge of California's Proposition 12: The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative. The Meat Institute petition specifically asks the Supreme Court to review a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling in a challenge by the organization. The Meat Institute opposes the law, claiming it is unconstitutional and will hurt the nation's food value chain by significantly increasing costs for producers and consumers. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts states, "If this unconstitutional law is allowed to stand, California will dictate farming practices across the nation." The question presented in the case is whether the U.S. Constitution permits California to extend its police power beyond its territorial borders by banning pork and veal products sold into California unless out-of-state farmers restructure their facilities to meet animal-confinement standards dictated by California. ************************************************************************************ 2020 Agritech, Food Investments, Sets Record The agri-food-tech sector saw a record investment total in 2020. AgFunder reports total dollars committed to agri-food-tech ventures in 2020 are expected to hit $30.5 billion, representing a 34.5 percent increase over 2019 investments. The sector's stellar performance is attributable to an increasing number of big funding rounds, signifying a maturing sector with a few clear outliers. Michigan-based cold storage and warehousing venture Lineage Logistics' $1.6 billion funding round accounted for five percent of the projected investment total. Plant-based meat company Impossible Foods raised two rounds totaling $700 million, leading a long and increasingly tech-diverse roster of investor-backed alternative protein companies. There were also a lot of small rounds, which AgFunder says speaks to investor confidence in placing their bets on the agri-food-tech sector at large, and on the next generation of early-stage innovations and technologies. Early-stage investments grew ten percent year-over-year in 2020, as the number of deals grew 15 percent. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Dairy Farm Numbers Continue to Decline Data from the Department of Agriculture shows the number of licensed dairy operators in the United States continues to decline. Analyzed by the American Farm Bureau Federation in a Market Intel article, USDA’s Milk Production report showed the fourth-largest year-over-year decline in the number of licensed dairy operations in the last 15 years. There were 2,550 fewer licensed dairy operations in 2020 than in 2019, when the number dropped by 3,261. The overall number of licensed operations in the U.S. has marched steadily downward since data collection began, declining by more than 55 percent, from 70,375 in 2003 to 31,657 in 2020. AFBF suggests this recent acceleration of the decline reflects how difficult it is to operate a dairy in a low milk price environment. Since the end of 2014, dairy farmers have struggled with low prices followed by an industry-disrupting pandemic that increased milk price volatility and rendered risk management tools mostly ineffective. ************************************************************************************ Food and Ag Groups Seek Shipping Container Action Agriculture groups last week urged the Biden Administration to address the ongoing shipping container shortage. More than 70 food, agriculture and transport groups, including the National Pork Producers Council, penned a letter last week to President Joe Biden, urging the administration to address the ongoing ocean carrier practices the groups say are hampering delivery of U.S. agriculture, food and forestry products to international markets. The letter outlines how carriers are declining to carry cargo and instead opting to return empty containers to Asia. The groups say, “unless the Shipping Act and other tools available to our government are applied promptly, agriculture industries will continue to suffer great financial losses.” The letter explains the Shipping Act provides the Federal Maritime Commission with the authority to prohibit unreasonable, unjust practices, and "to promote the growth and development of U.S. exports through competitive and efficient ocean transportation.” Given the urgency of this situation, the groups ask those tools be immediately applied to stem the current ocean carrier practices. ************************************************************************************ Hagedorn Introduces PP Flexibility for Farmers and Ranchers Act Congressman Jim Hagedorn last week introduced the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility for Farmers and Ranchers Act. The Minnesota Republican says the bill would allow farmers and ranchers categorized as partnerships to utilize gross income when calculating maximum Paycheck Protection Program loan amounts. The CARES Act allowed for farmers and ranchers to apply for PPP loans by utilizing net income in their loan calculations. Unfortunately, Hagedorn says, this prevents many agricultural partnerships from receiving the maximum PPP loan possible. Hagedorn’s legislation provides enhanced flexibility by allowing the use of gross income to calculate the maximum loan amount. The bill also includes a retroactive provision to enable producers, who initially used net income, to recalculate their PPP loans, so long as the loans have not been forgiven. The lawmaker states, “As we approach a return to normalcy and reopening our economy, it is critical that we ensure our farmers and ranchers have access to the resources needed to maintain operations.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Additional Staff Appointments The Department of Agriculture Monday announce two senior appointments. USDA announced the appointment of Dr. Dewayne Goldmon as senior advisor for racial equity to the Secretary of Agriculture. Goldmon has served for the past year as Executive Director of the National Black Growers Council, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates to improve the efficiency, productivity, and sustainability of Black row crop farmers. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that with Goldmon, “we will build a USDA that represents and serves all Americans.” USDA also announced the appointment of Andy Green as senior advisor for fair and competitive Markets. Most recently, Green served as a Senior Fellow for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. Referring to Green’s future with USDA, Vilsack says, “We must create a more level playing field for small and medium producers and a more balanced, equitable economy for everyone working in food and agriculture.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 2, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Rising Income and Spending The New York Times reported last week that the American economic recovery came perilously close to falling off a cliff at the end of last year — but that government aid arrived barely in time to prevent a disaster — and possibly paved the way for a dynamic rebound. Personal income surged a remarkable 10% in January, the Commerce Department reported on Friday. Spending increased last month, too, by a healthy 2.4%, largely fueled by a rise in purchases of goods. The report was the latest sign of the economy's slow but steady march forward after a series of setbacks. Yet the data also underscored the extent to which government aid is buoying the economy. The rise in income last month was almost entirely attributable to the $600 government relief checks approved in December and to unemployment insurance payments, the Times said. And while spending ticked up, purchases of services remained depressed as the pandemic continued to weigh heavily on the leisure and hospitality industries even as coronavirus cases fell. “Technically, you could say we're recovering,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist for the accounting firm Grant Thornton. “But the patterns in both income and spending point out the fragility of the recovery without aid.” That the economy remains reliant on government aid is all the more resonant as Democrats in Washington work to push through President Biden's $1.9 trillion relief measure, which would provide a round of $1,400 checks that could further power consumer spending. Although the new data indicated that the recovery is still fragile, it provided fresh evidence that it is no longer in danger of moving in reverse, a trend also seen in recent reports on retail sales and orders of durable goods. The encouraging data led Morgan Stanley on Friday to raise its forecast of first-quarter economic growth to 2% (8.1% on an annualized basis) from 1.8%. Before Congress passed the round of aid that produced the January checks, many economists thought GDP might shrink in the first quarter. There is a possible downside to a robust, stimulus-powered recovery as economists increasingly warn that inflation could become a problem. That would imply a change of posture from the Fed and would be seen as bad news for stocks — and recent trading has been turbulent this week as investors react to recent sudden moves in bond yields. But the report on Friday gave no indication that inflation was spinning out of control. Consumer prices were up 1.5% in January from a year earlier, well below the Fed's 2% target. On Thursday, John Williams, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said that “fiscal support, combined with highly favorable financial conditions and steady progress on vaccinations, are all reasons to be optimistic the economy will experience a strong recovery this year,” he said. “With our economy and the global economy still far below full strength, I expect underlying inflationary pressures to remain subdued for some time.” The January data from the Commerce Department showed that although income was up 10% over all, wages rose only 0.7%. And spending reflected the pandemic's disruption to consumer behavior as spending on goods rose 5.8%, while spending on services was up only 0.7%. There was also a “cautionary note” on Friday from the University of Michigan's February index of consumer sentiment, which declined from the previous month. The report said economic expectations had diminished particularly among households making less than $75,000. Still, many economists are now predicting a rebound that is stronger than once seemed possible, a view that the Commerce Department report on Friday bolstered. The Commerce Department report showed that households had $3.9 trillion in savings in January, up from $2.3 trillion in December and $1.4 trillion last February, before the pandemic. The jump in personal income in January was the largest since April, when the figure rose 12.4 percent, lifted by nearly $3 trillion in government transfer payments. That was mostly in the form of $1,200 checks that millions of households received from the federal government. That cash stockpile could grow even larger if Congress passes another round of aid, as now seems probable. But as the pandemic ebbs, Americans are likely to start spending again — turning the built-up savings into fuel for the economy. “We just think there's going to be this huge pent-up demand for services that's going to be funded by that excess savings,” Bryson said. Thus, the year ahead could be bumpy, with consumer spending gradually warming up in the spring and summer as the combination of a new round of stimulus, reduced infections and vaccine distribution gets people and their money into greater circulation, said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics. “We know what is restraining consumer spending,” he said—namely the health crisis and, for some families, the means. “And what the January report reveals is that if both of these factors are alleviated in terms of constraints, then consumers will spend, and then the recovery will be strong.” So, we will see. Many economists feel that there are too many unknowns just now to allow confident outlook analysis, although many can be expected to try. These are trends producers should watch closely as the continuing war on the COVID virus continues, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 2, 2021 |


DMC Payments Triggered For More Coverage Levels In January The national average margin for January 2021 is at $7.14 per cwt., which USDA said will mean Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) payments are triggered for January. Dairy operations that elected Tier 1 margin coverage levels $9.50, $9.00, $8.50, $8.00, $7.50 per cwt. and Tier 2 margin coverage levels at $8.00, $7.50, will be issued a payment. DMC payments are triggered when the difference between the national all milk price and the national average feed cost falls below the margin trigger selected by producers. Enrollment in DMC has fallen below expectations even as the program has triggered payments for some of the coverage levels at least the last two months.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 2, 2021 |


US Biofuels Interests Eye UK Market As Country Up Biofuel Use. The United Kingdom will increase the share of ethanol in its motor fuel to 10%, up from a current 5%, with the country saying the move is aimed at reducing the impact of driving in the country. The UK Department of Transport said the change could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 750,000 metric tons per year, the equivalent of taking 350,000 cars off the road. U.S. biofuel groups welcomed the move, hoping that it translates into additional demand for U.S. ethanol as the UK biofuel infrastructure needs to be increased to meet the rising demand. The U.S. exported around 600,000 barrels of ethanol to the UK in 2020, down about 55,000 barrels from 2019 levels as COVID restrictions limited travel and gasoline demand in the UK. Data from the UK indicated that overall ethanol consumption was at 4.7 million barrels in 2019. The hoped-for rise in U.S. ethanol exports to the UK would be a welcome demand development, but may not be a sustained market given an expected push to bolster the biofuel infrastructure in the UK.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday March 2, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets As usual, traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and watch for any export sale news that might emerge. There are no official reports on Tuesday's docket. Weather Tuesday will be dry and mild over most primary crop areas. This combination favors snow melt along with improving conditions for transportation and livestock. Rain will focus along the Gulf Coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 1, 2021 |


Vilsack: China Living Up to Trade Deal Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack says China is making good on its promises in the phase one trade deal it signed with the U.S. last year. CNBC says Vilsack points out the agreement allows market conditions to determine how much it has to buy from American farmers. COVID-19 qualifies as a market condition that would legitimately impact how much China has to buy under the agreement. In the first year of the deal, China imported $100 billion of the U.S. goods agreed to in the deal; that’s 58 percent of the $173.1 billion-goal set in 2020. However, the secretary says he’s upbeat on Chinese progress. “I think they still have a few days to be able to meet the phase one, year one goal,” Vilsack says. “Whether they meet the exact amount, I think, is in question because of the pandemic.” The secretary will tackle a lot of challenges in the world of U.S. ag, including the COVID-19-era rise in hunger, as well as a sharp drop in restaurant demand for food products. ********************************************************************************************** USTR Nominee Testifies Before Senate Finance Committee Katherine Tai, President Biden’s nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, testified at a confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee last week. Politico says she addressed concerns that the Biden Administration “will stand still” on trade policy. Senators in both parties pushed Tai on the administration’s pledge that it wouldn’t negotiate new trade deals until it gets the domestic economic stimulus package it wants from Congress. The committee’s Ranking Member Mike Crapo (CRAH-poh) of Idaho told Tai, “You must make the president understand that trade is a domestic priority.” The USTR nominee says she’ll stay busy on trade policy but didn’t stake out concrete positions on the major questions facing the agency. A potential trade deal with the United Kingdom is one of those questions, as a deal must get signed by July 1 to qualify for fast-track treatment under the trade promotion authority. To meet that deadline, the USTR would need to formally notify Congress by April 1 of its intent to sign a pact. “If I’m confirmed, I’ll need to review the progress and conversations so far during the talks with the U.K.,” she said to the committee members. Tai was also noncommittal about restarting negotiations on a new trade deal in the Asia-Pacific after former President Trump pulled the country out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. ********************************************************************************************** Scott and Thompson Agree/Disagree on Climate Change The tone is set on the climate change debate in the House Agriculture Committee, and it took place during the committee’s first hearing. Committee Chair David Scott says changes in weather patterns bring serious risks to production agriculture, forest resources, and the overall economy. He says, “These risks cannot be understated.” He also says the USDA’s Economic Research Service notes that climate change will likely affect risk-management tools, financial markets, and America’s global food security, as well as many other areas. Ranking Member G.T Thompson says agriculture has been on the menu when it comes to climate change, noting that last week’s hearing now puts agriculture at the table. The Hagstrom Report says Thompson wants to be very clear on his position, which is that “The climate is changing, the Earth’s temperature is rising, and I trust the science that global industrial activity has contributed to the issue.” Thompson says we should be reducing global emissions because it’s the right thing to do. “It requires smart science-based policies,” Thompson adds. “But the apocalyptic narrative of the world coming to an end within a decade is not evidence-based and isn’t supported by science.” ********************************************************************************************** Soybean Growers Approve 2021 Resolutions American Soybean Association members completed the organization’s annual resolutions process to set the tone and direction for policy advocating in the months ahead. The organization aims each year to build on sound existing resolutions by adapting where needed and supplementing with new resolutions to address emerging priorities. A couple of priorities that the ASA will be focusing on more often in 2021 is climate and conservation. Kevin Scott is the President of the ASA and a soybean farmer from South Dakota. “Throughout this year’s document, we recognize the role that climate and conservation will play in policy discussions in 2021; from thoughtfully addressing development of public and private ecosystem services markets to promoting precision agriculture technology as a tool to improve environmental stewardship while providing economic returns to growers,” Scott says. The many resolutions they approved include Trade Promotion Authority reauthorization, a sufficiently funded Commodity Credit Corporation account to ensure timely benefits for farmers, and a strong farm safety net and crop insurance program, including expanding support for double-crop soybean coverage. They also want to see the development of voluntary carbon markets that incentivize agricultural conservation and significant increases in rural infrastructure funding. ********************************************************************************************** “Thank You Farmers” Project Donations Reach $3 Million Culver’s created the “Thank You Farmers Project” back in 2013 and has raised a lot of money since then. The donation total recently hit $3 million, and the funds go to support agricultural education. The Thank you Farmers Project is about more than showing appreciation for the hard work of today’s farmers. It’s also about ensuring America has enough food to serve its growing population by supporting agricultural education efforts that encourage smart farming. One way that Culver’s does this is by supporting FFA. “Today’s FFA members are tomorrow’s ag leaders,” says Allison Wedig, Culver’s marketing specialist and a former Wisconsin FFA state president. “Many of these students will go on to dedicate their careers to ensuring a sustainable future food supply, so we want to support them and give them a forum to share their voices and passions.” One of the many ways that Culver’s supports FFA is through the annual FFA Essay Contest that just launched on February 22. As in the past six years of the contest, three winners will receive funds for their FFA chapters, including $7,500 for first place, $5,000 for second place, and $2,500 for third. Go to www.culvers.com/essaycontest for more information. The deadline is April 19. *********************************************************************************************** Corn and Wheat Exports Sales Drop to Marketing Year Lows The USDA says export sales of corn and wheat dropped to marketing-year lows last week while soybean sales plunged. Corn sales to overseas buyers dropped to 453,300 metric tons in the seven days that ended on February 18. That’s down 55 percent from the previous week and 85 percent from the previous four-week average. It’s also the lowest point since the 2020-2021 marketing year began last September 1. Peru was the biggest buyer at over 160,000 metric tons, followed by Vietnam and Japan. Unknown countries canceled shipments of just over 300,000 metric tons. Total exports fell 14 percent to 1.19 million metric tons. Wheat sales totaled 167,700 metric tons, down 58 percent week-to-week and 67 percent from the four-week average, the lowest level since the marketing year got started. Soybean sales to offshore buyers plunged to 167,900 metric tons, 63 percent lower than the prior week and 72 percent from the four-week average. The Netherlands was the top buyer at 139,100 metric tons, followed by Japan and Germany.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 1, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New Minimum Wage Initiative Opposed Bloomberg is reporting this week that a fresh initiative in the U.S. Senate to put a tax penalty on big companies as a way of forcing higher minimum wages is prompting a skeptical reaction among some economists including a top adviser to former President Barack Obama. “This is a really big, complicated, brand new proposal. It is possible that it works,” Jason Furman, who served in Obama's White House and is now a professor of economic policy at Harvard University, said in a tweet. “It is also possible that another tax version works. But I would be extremely nervous about trying out a brand new idea like this with virtually no vetting.” Two Senate committee chairs, Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., pitched the idea of a tax penalty Thursday night, following a procedural blow to the $15 minimum-wage provision Democrats wanted in President Joe Biden's COVID-19 relief bill. As of Friday afternoon, Wyden's staff were still drafting the plan, which would include a 5% payroll-tax penalty for large companies that pay lower wages, and a tax-credit incentive of as much as $10,000 for small businesses that boost wages. The U.S. House passed the relief bill, including the minimum-wage measure, early Saturday. Yet efforts to use the bill as a vehicle have hit a wall in the Senate after the chamber's parliamentarian, a nonpartisan official, ruled the wage hike doesn't qualify for the fast-track budget procedure used by Democrats. Economists already are debating the value of a higher minimum wage, with most seeing some trade-off – depending on the level – between income and spending gains and job losses as employers absorb higher labor costs, Bloomberg said. One disadvantage of targeting big companies is that they employ only a fraction of lower-income workers, and have more flexibility to get around new rules. Wyden and Sanders also did float incentives to boost wages among smaller firms, many of which have been hit hard by the pandemic. “Most minimum wage workers are not in mega corporations,” Arindrajit Dube, a University of Massachusetts economics professor who's studied the minimum wage, said in a tweet Friday. “Also, what safeguards would prevent large companies from outsourcing low wage work to smaller contractors?” Wyden said in his outline that there would be measures “to prevent companies from trying to outsource labor to avoid paying living wages.” Introducing new tax policy is complicated, and would likely lead to lobbying for exceptions and debate about who gets included and who doesn't, said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities LLC. “It just becomes this eternal struggle to get your firm included in the benefits or excluded from the costs,” Stanley said in an interview. Many of the largest employers of low-paid workers in the U.S., including Amazon.com Inc., Target Corp., Walmart Inc. and Costco Wholesale Corp. have already been raising wages of their employees in recent years under pressure from critics and labor groups. The country's big corporations – who would be subject to the proposed tax penalty – wouldn't see as much of an impact from a federal minimum-wage increase as small businesses, which strongly oppose the proposal. “States and localities have already made significant adjustments to boost minimum pay, said Andrew Husby and Eliza Winger of Bloomberg economics. A third of the U.S. workforce is on track to live in a state with a minimum wage of $15 or higher in 2026. When New York is included, the total is closer to 38%. New York's rate is $12.50, though higher-cost downstate counties already operate with a $15 minimum.” Retail groups have also pushed back on the wage penalty, saying that it would hurt already-suffering businesses. “Threatening businesses with a whopping payroll tax increase – many of whom were shut down for months in 2020, and had their operations restricted by as much as 75% throughout the holiday season – should be a non-starter for those who care about economic recovery,” Austen Jensen, senior vice president of government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that the Biden administration didn't yet have a position on the proposals from Wyden and Sanders, noting that they had only just been released. “If you have a policy that will affect tens of millions of workers, businesses and more, then it needs more time/scrutiny/debate than, say, a think-tank white paper,” Furman said. “We can't point to another country that does this. We can't point to a state that does this. I don't know of any think tank proposals that have been discussed and debated (there may be some but not high profile). I don't know of any academic papers that address the issues. So, we will see. Political pressure on the new administration to raise the minimum wage is intensifying, but it appears that significant opposition is now emerging, as well. This is a fight producers should watch closely as it intensifies, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 1, 2021 |


Mostly Static Food Price Outlook USDA did not alter its major food price inflation outlook in its forecast issued Thursday from levels in January, still forecasting overall food price inflation for 2021 2% to 3% overall, with food away from home (restaurant) prices also expected to rise 2% to 3%. That would put overall food price inflation for 2021 in line with the 20-year average of 2.4% while the restaurant price rise the past 20 years has been 2.8%. Food at home (grocery store) prices are looked to up be 1% to 2% in 2021, below the 20-year average of 2%, but well below the 2020 pandemic-influenced rise of 3.5% level. Both restaurant and overall food prices rose 3.4% in 2020. Within the categories of food at the grocery store, USDA only adjusted its forecasts for fats and oils, now putting it at 1% to 2%, and sugar and sweets at 1.5% to 2.5%. That marks a sizable jump for fats and oils as USDA in January saw those prices unchanged — a range of down 0.5% to up 0.5%, while sugar and sweets were expected to rise 1% to 2% in last month's forecast. But these mostly static forecasts may not remain that way as USDA cautioned “uncertainty about the effect of the pandemic on food prices remains largely unresolved.” Whether their forecasts remain closer to the 20-year averages in 2021 than the levels seen in 2020 remains to be seen. But they are still elevated from the period leading up to the pandemic where food price increases at the grocery store were less than 1% in 2018 and 2019 and actually declined from the prior year in 2016 and 2017.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 1, 2021 |


USDA's Vilsack Stays Mum On CCC Use For Climate Programs USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack held his first briefing with reporters after taking the helm at USDA, talking about climate change goals for the Biden administration. But Vilsack stayed silent on the key issue of how he would pursue climate and conservation policy, including a timeline for setting up an ag carbon bank, but he said he would be working with Capitol Hill on those topics. He also did not indicate if he believes he has authority to tap the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) for an ag carbon bank. “If there is congressional authority that we need or additional appropriations we need, we ought to be advocating for that. Over the course of the next several months, I'm sure that we will be doing a little bit of all of that,” he said. He will meet with the USDA climate team today and discuss further the efforts that would involve USDA. He did note that China “seems to be living up to its responsibilities” relative to the Phase One commitments, but cautioned that “at any point in time, because of the complex nature of the China-U.S. relationship, things can happen that might affect those purchases.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday March 1, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets I don't know if the market will be in like a lion or a lamb on the first day of March, but traders will likely start by checking the latest weather forecasts and pausing for a possible export sale announcement at 8 a.m. CST. The Institute of Supply Management's U.S. index of manufacturing is due out at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's weekly report of grain inspections at 10 a.m. and the Fats and Oils report from NASS at 2 p.m. Weather A broad swath of the Delta, Mid-South and Southeast will see rain Monday, with some flooding possible. Other crop areas will be dry. Snow in portions of the northern Midwest will diminish during the day. Temperatures will be cold for the season in the northern Midwest and seasonal to above normal elsewhere.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 26, 2021 |


Vilsack Starts Second Tenure at USDA, Climate Work Begins Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with the media Thursday, following this week's Senate vote to confirm his nomination. Vilsack was sworn in Wednesday evening by Vice President Kamala Harris. He returns to the Department of Agriculture after serving eight years at the same post during the Obama administration. Vilsack spoke as the House Agriculture Committee explored U.S. agriculture's role in climate change solutions. Much of the climate conversation regarding agriculture focuses on establishing a climate bank or market, paying farmers for climate-smart practices. Vilsack says President Joe Biden has a vision of a net-zero emission U.S. agriculture, adding, "I think it has the capacity to fundamentally change U.S. agriculture in a positive way and create new revenue sources." However, he says that work won’t happen in a single administration, but added “the work has to begin.” Vilsack planned to meet with the USDA climate team Friday. Vilsack says USDA’s role will be to provide technical guidance to lawmakers and the administration in crafting climate policies. ************************************************************************************ USDA Extends CFAP Application Deadline The Department of Agriculture Thursday extended the deadline to apply for the latest round of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters the sign-up period will be extended, allowing producers more time to apply. The deadline will extend 30 days after USDA completes a review of the program. As part of the Biden administration review of federal programs, USDA suspended the processing and payments under the program. The American Farm Bureau Federation requested the deadline extension in a letter to Vilsack earlier in the week. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall stated, “Recent severe weather and the suspension of CFAP payments led to challenges and confusion surrounding the application process.” Vilsack says USDA is in the process of reviewing the program. Vilsack says, “We want to make sure that as we implement this next level of support that we do so, within the resources provided, do it in an equitable way, and try to respond to some of the legitimate concerns." ************************************************************************************ CoBank: Weak Dollar Benefits Commodities The value of the U.S. dollar weakened substantially since March 2020 and is expected to experience modest deflation in 2021, making U.S. ag products more competitive globally. However, CoBank reports not all commodities are affected equally given the diversity in global export competition and foreign exchange rates. Fundamental factors like tariffs and weather conditions in key agricultural producing regions often dominate market dynamics despite currency impacts. A CoBank researcher says, “some agricultural commodities like grains, oilseeds, and cotton will face a currency headwind.” A CoBank index tracking commodities reveals that U.S. animal protein exports are expected to benefit from a modest tailwind fueled by a weaker U.S. dollar in 2021. The U.S. trade-weighted grain and oilseed index strengthened by 14 percent in 2020 and is expected to gain another four to five percent in 2021. Dairy products are expected to receive potential support from global factors. Finally, U.S. cotton faces headwinds from weaker foreign currency values in 2021, according to CoBank. ************************************************************************************ Coalition Urges Lawmakers to Protect Crop Insurance The Crop Insurance Coalition urges lawmakers to protect crop insurance from budget cuts in the upcoming fiscal year 2022 budget process. The coalition of 58 partners recently sent a letter to key lawmakers detailing the request. Letters were also sent to the White House Office of Management and Budget and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The coalition says farmers need access to a strong and secure federal crop insurance program. The letters say the last several years have brought an onslaught of uncertainty for America's farmers and ranchers - from weather extremes to the disruptions of international markets to COVID-19 and its unique challenges. Given the challenges rural America faces and the nature of crop insurance, the coalition says cuts to the program should be avoided. Referring to ad hoc programs supporting farmers over the last three years, the letter states, "it would only serve to undercut these efforts to propose harmful changes to a crop insurance program." ************************************************************************************ Western U.S. Stress by Drought The Western half of the United States is reported in various stages of drought in the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, released Thursday. Much of the Southwestern U.S. is in a classified extreme or exceptional drought, with the worst states being Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. The Drought Monitor reports frequent Pacific storms battered the Northwest and tracked southeastward across the Northern and Central Rockies, dropping plentiful moisture on Washington, Oregon, northern California, Idaho, and western Montana. However, the moisture missed most of the Southwest. In contrast, much of the Eastern half of the country is not experiencing drought conditions, with a few small pockets of abnormally dry conditions. Storms also dropped widespread precipitation on much of the Southeast, mid-Atlantic, and coastal New England, while most of the Midwest saw light frozen precipitation in the last week. Little or no precipitation fell on south Texas and northeastern Texas into southeastern Oklahoma, expanding drought severity in the region. ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $42 Million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced a $42.3 million investment to help rural residents access health care and educational opportunities. USDA says rural areas are seeing higher infection and death rates related to COVID-19 due to several factors, including a much higher percentage of underlying conditions, difficulty accessing medical care, and lack of health insurance. A recent report by the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis found infection and death rates in rural America due to COVID-19 are 13.4 percent higher than in urban areas. USDA Economic Research Service data also confirms the data. The $42.3 million includes $24 million provided through the CARES Act and will reach five million rural residents. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “With health care and education increasingly moving to online platforms, the time is now to make historic investments in rural America to improve quality of life for decades to come.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 26, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Powell Suggests Congress Explore Child Care Options The New York Times reported this week that Fed Chair Jerome Powell is sufficiently concerned about the decline in female participation in the labor force that he suggested on Wednesday that improved child care support might help pull more women into the labor market. The Fed chief studiously avoided commenting on most specific government policy proposals during three hours of wide-ranging testimony before the House Financial Services Committee. But he did acknowledge that enabling better options for affordable child-care is an “area worth looking at” for Congress. “Our peers, our competitors, advanced economy democracies, have a more built-up function for child care and they wind up having substantially higher labor force participation for women,” Powell said. “We used to lead the world in female labor force participation, a quarter-century ago, and we no longer do. It may just be that those policies have put us behind.” Powell limited his supportive comments but stressed the near-term need to help workers who have been displaced from their jobs during the pandemic. He made it clear that the labor market remains “far from healed, that the pandemic's economic fallout has disproportionately hurt women and minorities and that both Congress and the central bank have a role to play in supporting vulnerable families until the economy has recovered more fully.” Women's labor force participation had climbed for decades in the U.S. before stalling out — and then actually dropping slightly — starting in the 1990s. Powell commented that adult U.S. women hold jobs or look for them at lower rates than women in some other major advanced economies, such as Canada or Germany. Powell noted that the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco had examined the question of why the share of Canadians who work or look for jobs had climbed even as the U.S. rate had fallen. The report concluded that most of the gap came from declining participation by women. “And they pointed to caregiving policy differences as a likely culprit,” he said. “Parental leave policies in Canada provide strong incentives to remain attached to the labor force following the arrival of a new child,” the paper, written by the San Francisco Fed president, Mary Daly, and co-authors, pointed out. The fact that child care responsibilities fall heavily on women in the United States has come under a brighter spotlight during the pandemic which has shuttered schools and disproportionately left women bearing added child care responsibilities. While women lost jobs less dramatically than men during the 2009 recession, their employment rate is down by about as much as men's is now — so, in measures of the share of people who are either working or looking, women have lost more ground. Female participation dropped 2.1 percentage points to 55.7% in January compared with February 2020, whereas men's participation has dropped 1.7 points to 67.5%. Throughout his tenure as Fed chair, Powell has been keenly focused on the job market and has repeatedly argued that both monetary and fiscal policymakers should support displaced workers so that they can make their way back into jobs when the economy reopens. While the Fed can help the economy and the job market improve broadly, helping individual groups in a targeted way is generally left to elected officials. Still, the Fed says it intends to help foster conditions for strong economic growth overall which pulls people into the labor market and helps set the stage for higher wages. Officials are trying to do that by keeping interest rates low and buying large quantities of government-backed bonds, policies that can fuel both lending and spending. Powell has been pledging for months that the Fed would use its policies to help the economy get through the pandemic but political concerns that big government spending could fuel economic overheating are now increasing. Still, Fed officials argue that weak price gains, not runaway ones, are the modern problem. Powell reiterated that message Wednesday and commented that the Fed is still “trying to bolster prices. We believe we can do it, we believe we will do it. It may take more than three years,” he said. The Fed tweaked its approach to monetary policy in 2020, saying that it would aim for periods of slightly higher inflation and that it would no longer seek to cool off the economy just because the unemployment rate was falling — an approach Fed governor Lael Brainard explained to a Harvard economics course Wednesday morning. The Fed was relatively patient in lifting interest rates after the 2007 to 2009 recession — leaving them near zero until 2015 and then raising them slowly, as unemployment dropped to 50-year lows. Workers who had been counted out began to re-enter the labor market and employers started to go to greater lengths to recruit and train talent. “At very low levels of unemployment” the United States “saw benefits going to those at the lower end of the spectrum—which means disproportionately African Americans, other minorities, and women,” Powell said. “With our tools, what we can do, is try to get us back to that place.” So, we will see. Clearly, Powell and other Fed officials are convinced of the strength of their policy positions and are determined to continue to work to strengthen investment. This is a tense moment for advocates of highly interventionist policies in both monetary and fiscal arenas, fights that producers should watch closely as they intensify, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 26, 2021 |


Tai Pledges Work On USMCA Enforcement, Addressing China As USTR The Senate Finance Committee heard from Katherine Tai, President Joe Biden's choice to be U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), and she offered some insight into focus should she be confirmed to that role. Tai pledged her first focus will be on helping the U.S. recover from the pandemic and the “economic crisis.” USTR's role in that is to “build out strong supply chains that will get our economy back on track.” The longer-term focus will be on making sure that trade benefits all U.S. citizens, not just consumers. “I will make it a priority to implement and enforce the renewed terms of our trade relationship with Canada and Mexico. Too often in the past, Congress and the administration came together to finalize and pass a trade agreement. But then other urgent matters arose and we all moved on.” She noted the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is an opportunity to “break that trend” as it is an “important step in reforming our approach to trade.” She did not specify issues with the WTO but said that she would “prioritize rebuilding our international alliances and partnerships.” Tai also focused on China, labeling them “simultaneously a rival, a trade partner, and an outsized player whose cooperation we'll also need to address certain global challenges.” Having previously been the chief enforcer at USTR on China's unfair trade practices, Tai said there must be a “strategic and coherent plan for holding China accountable to its promises and effectively competing with its model of state-directed economics” and backed Biden's call to build a “a united front of U.S. allies” when dealing with China. “We must remember how to walk, chew gum and play chess at the same time.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 26, 2021 |


USDA Extends Deadline For CFAP Applications The application deadline for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program--Additional Assistance (CFAP-AA) will be extended beyond the current deadline of February 26. USDA took the action after a request by the American Farm Bureau Federation that the deadline be extended due to the regulatory review that suspended CFAP-AA payments. USDA spokesman Matt Herrick said in an email to some news outlets that the CFAP-AA review is “ongoing, and we anticipate a decision in the weeks ahead.” Herrick confirmed the deadline and noted the agency continues to accept applications “so that, once a determination is made on the direction, we are ready to act.” He said there would be at least another 30 days for producers to signup after any decision is announced, a decision that matches the request by AFBF. “What we're doing now is listening and gathering feedback so that we get help to as many producers as possible without focusing on one group or geography at the expense of another,” Herrick said. There is no timeline yet for any resumption of the CFAP-AA process even though USDA had indicated when it suspended the effort in late January that the agency would be addressing the issue “in coming days.” Now a timeframe of in the “weeks” ahead is being mentioned by USDA.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 26, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday at 7:30 a.m. CST, the U.S. Commerce department will release reports on U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending in January, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. USDA's annual report of cold storage is set for 2 p.m. CST. Traders will remain attentive to the latest weather forecasts and to any news of export sales that might emerge. Weather Moderate to locally heavy rain is in store for the Delta and Mid-South Friday. We'll also see widespread snow in the Northwest U.S. crop areas. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere. Winter wheat areas of the Plains have no meaningful moisture in the forecast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 25, 2021 |


AFBF: Farmers Need More Time to Apply for CFAP The American Farm Bureau Federation is asking the Department of Agriculture to extend the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. In January, an additional $13 billion in assistance was made available to help farmers and ranchers suffering losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current deadline is this Friday, February 26, but recent severe weather and the suspension of CFAP payments led to challenges and confusion surrounding the application process. In a letter sent today to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, AFBF President Zippy Duvall said the recent regulatory freeze on pending executive actions, though common, "has created confusion for farmers and ranchers with respect to eligibility and the application process." The letter also notes severe weather, which impacted travel conditions and created broadband disruptions, may have also impacted farmers' ability to complete the application process. AFBF asks USDA to extend the deadline to apply for assistance by at least 30 days after the regulatory review is completed. ************************************************************************************ Pilgrims Pride Pleads Guilty to Price Fixing Pilgrim's Pride Corporation this week pleaded guilty to price-fixing allegations. The Department of Justice announced the plea, and a sentence to pay approximately $107 million in criminal fines. According to the plea agreement entered in the U.S. District Court in Denver, from as early as 2012 and continuing at least into 2017, Pilgrim's participated in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition for sales of broiler chicken products in the U.S. that affected at least $361 million in Pilgrim's sales of broiler chicken products. Pilgrim's is the first company to plead guilty for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices and rig bids for broiler chicken products. Broiler chickens are chickens raised for human consumption and sold to grocers and restaurants. Ten executives and employees at major broiler chicken producers have also previously been charged. The case results from an ongoing federal antitrust investigation into price-fixing, bid-rigging, and other anticompetitive conduct in the broiler chicken industry. ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Introduce emergency Feed Bill Legislation introduced this week in the Senate would provide farmers and ranchers with additional flexibility to alleviate feed shortages in years with widespread excessive moisture, flooding or drought. The Feed Emergency Enhancement During Disasters with Cover Crops Act would create an emergency waiver authority for the Secretary of Agriculture to allow for haying, grazing or chopping of a cover crop on prevented plant acres before November 1, in the event of a feed shortage due to extreme weather. Senators Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, and John Hoeven, A North Dakota Republican, introduced the legislation. The bill states that under the waiver, producers would not see a reduction of their crop insurance indemnity. The legislation also directs the Agriculture Secretary to establish regional haying and grazing dates for each crop year. The current date, November 1, is set on a nationwide basis and disadvantages producers in the upper Midwest. Representatives Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican, and Angie Craig, a Minnesota Democrat, introduced companion legislation in the House. ************************************************************************************ Legislative Fix Introduced to Make More Farmers Eligible for PPP New bipartisan legislation would make more farmers and ranchers eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program. Representative Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat, and Jeff Fortenberry, a Nebraska Republican, recently introduced the Paycheck Protection Clarification for Producers Act. The legislation would allow farmers and ranchers organized as partnerships or limited liability companies access to the program. The lawmakers say these farmers have been unable to apply for loans under the new calculation because of the Small business Administration's interpretation of eligibility for partnerships or limited liability companies. Representative Fortenberry says Nebraska leads the U.S. in per capita PPP loans approved. However, adds, "Due to quirks in the law, some farmers hard hit by COVID-19 were left out.” Representative Kind states, “No farmer should be shut out of this crucial program and denied a financial lifeline because of an interpretation error.” Kind previously led legislation that allowed farmers more access to the PPP, which was included in the latest COVID-19 relief package. ************************************************************************************ Missouri Lawmakers Seek to block Multi-state Transmission Line Missouri lawmakers are again seeking to block a multi-state high voltage transmission line for wind energy. The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports a new measure in the Missouri legislature would require Invenergy, the Grain Belt Express future transmission line owner, to receive approval from individual counties. The move is one of many to block the project, as lawmakers seek to stop a private company from using eminent domain to take land for the project. The Grain Belt Express would take wind energy from Kansas through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. The Missouri Supreme Court earlier ruled the project be granted public utility status because the $2.3 billion project is in the public’s interest. The transmission line in Missouri is expected to cross the property of 570 landowners, stretching more than 200 miles across the northern sector of the state. Invenergy says the project will play a major role in economic recovery in the Midwest by supporting jobs, adding broadband infrastructure, community investment and energy savings. ************************************************************************************ Mentorship to help Underserved Farmers with Conservation A new mentorship program is linking historically underserved farmers and ranchers with award-winning conservationists. Sand County Foundation’s Vice President of Agricultural Research, Dr. Heidi Peterson, says, “Now historically underserved farmers and ranchers have access to a reliable network of conservation mentors.” Since 2003, the Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award has recognized nearly 150 farmers, ranchers and forestland owners nationwide for their efforts to improve soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat. The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service awarded Sand County Foundation a Conservation Collaboration Grant to support this opportunity to empower award recipients as mentors. Now, the Sand County Foundation is seeking applicants for the program. Sand County Foundation's network of Leopold Conservation Award-winning farmers will serve as program mentors. Participants will have access to the network and receive technical and mentorship support on navigating USDA conservation programs and practices. Learn more and sign up for this free mentorship opportunity at www.sandcountyfoundation.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 25, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Farm Size Battleground Revisited One of the perpetual battles in Washington concerns the extent to which government programs focus on larger farms. The issue crosses party lines and Congress has written many complex limits on benefits for farms of various sizes for many years. This week, it seems that battle is rejoined. A new report by an ag advocacy organization says that the Trump administration aimed its “bailouts” increasingly to the nation's biggest farms. The report was written by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), an environmental advocacy group that highlights issues of equity, which it is watching closely as the Biden administration designs potential new climate-related and other financial incentives for farmers. The report said that only 1% of farm aid recipients collected 23% of subsidy payments in 2019, up from 17% in 2016 as former President Donald Trump's trade bailout swelled payments. Their portion crept up to 24% in the first half of 2020, the most recent period covered in the data, as farm aid hit a record level with coronavirus relief payments, the EWG said. That is the largest share of federal farm subsidies going to the top 1% – the 7,873 subsidy recipients who got the highest payments – since 2007, according to the analysis. The average payment for that group was $497,907. The findings followed earlier criticism from Democrats concerning inequities of Trump administration farm bailouts. In addition, Bloomberg said that a number of academic studies concluded that trade aid payments were greater than farmers' actual losses from the tariff conflict with China. A Government Accountability Office report issued in September found the top 25 recipients of trade aid in 2019 received an average of $1.5 million per farm. “This certainly adds to the questions about the way that program was designed,” said Jonathan Coppess, a University of Illinois professor who ran the federal agency that administers farm subsidies during the Obama administration, but wasn't involved in the advocacy group's analysis. “Why all of a sudden did you see this big a shift?” American farmers in 2020 had their most profitable year since 2013, largely because of federal aid which accounted for 38% of their net income, USDA reported earlier this month. Crop prices also rose late in the year as China stepped up agricultural imports. “The largest and wealthiest farms should not be getting most of the money, because they have large assets to fall back on in times of trouble,” said Anne Schechinger, a senior analyst with the group. “We're at a time when so many Americans have lost their jobs, are struggling to put food on the table or keep their businesses open, it makes you wonder why so much money is going to farmers, especially the largest, wealthiest farmers.” She said the shift in subsidy payments toward larger farms in 2019 likely was driven by Trump's adoption of a more generous formula for computing trade losses that year and a decision to double the maximum trade aid benefit per person. Large operators sometimes increase their subsidy payments by including relatives, even those who live in distant cities, as actively engaged in management of the farm, multiplying the benefits they are allowed, EWG said. Trump administration officials defended the program against criticism, arguing that they tend to be more productive and so suffer larger losses from trade-related commodity price drops. Schechinger said the Environmental Working Group, which advocates re-directing farm subsidies to smaller operators and conservation programs, released the findings in part to focus attention on inequities in aid distribution as the Biden administration considers financial incentives to encourage farmers to adopt climate-friendly practices. Administration officials have floated ideas including a carbon bank to finance payments to farmers who take steps to sequester additional carbon in soil and other measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Schechinger said her organization wants the USDA to avoid advantaging larger operations over smaller ones when it makes proposals. The Environmental Working Group regularly obtains data on federal farm subsidy payments from USDA through the Freedom of Information Act. Its analysis covered total farm subsidy payments, which includes both one-time programs under President Trump and continuing farm programs authorized by Congress. The issue of how farm benefits are allocated among farms of varying sizes is thorny and has long persisted. Many farm operations are highly capitalized now into larger units that are very efficient--and account for the vast bulk of U.S. food and fiber production, even although their numbers are relatively small. As a result, programs intended to affect production or other key aspects of the sector often prominently include larger units – a highly controversial outcome especially for those who focus closely on social aspects of the sector. So, we will see. Recent government supports have been important to the sector and almost certainly will continue to be highly controversial, especially as they are deeply involved in issues of trade policy, along with conservation, supplemental nutrition and income support, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 25, 2021 |


Vilsack Wins Senate Approval To Again Head USDA Tom Vilsack was sworn in Wednesday evening to lead USDA under the Biden administration, a post he held for eight years in the Obama administration. The Senate approved the nomination 92-7 on Tuesday, with six Republicans voting against his nomination and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont. Sanders caucuses with the Democrats and is the first lawmaker from that side of the aisle to vote against a Biden administration nominee. In explaining his vote, Sanders said he didn't have a major issue with Vilsack but thought that Biden “could have done better” with his choice of someone to lead USDA. Republican Sens. Rick Scott of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska, opposed returning Vilsack to head USDA. Now the attention will quickly shift to lower-level appointments at USDA that require Senate confirmation.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 25, 2021 |


Former USTR Official Touts Changes By China That Were Part Of Phase One Agreement Former top U.S. ag trade negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Gregg Doud, Tuesday told a Farm Foundation forum that market access in the agreement was critical. He stressed implementation of nearly all the 57 market access commitments, placing emphasis on the approval of more U.S. facilities to export to China. “Before we started [Phase 1] negotiations, we had about 1,500 facilities in the U.S. eligible to export agricultural products to China,” Doud said. “So that would have been beef processing facilities, dairy facilities, pet food facilities… 1,500 of those. Today, we now have well over 4,000 facilities in the U.S. eligible to export their products to China.” That gives the U.S. access to the Chinese market “we never had before, and this is a major change,” Doud said. “The improvements in market access that we now have in place are going to treat us well here going forward.” As for the purchase commitments, Doud simply said it comes down to U.S. competitiveness, a point focused on by Chinese negotiators. He also noted the two sides spent a considerable amount of time talking about ethanol, with trade in the corn-based fuel something Doud said he believed China was truly interested in. “My sense is that China really is trying to think through this whole notion of infrastructure for the use of ethanol,” Doud said. “You know, it took us a long time to build that infrastructure in the United States.” As for overall market conditions moving ahead, Doud predicted continued volatility, notable with China involved in the market. He said there is no way to say with certainty that in two or three years whether China would be importing 30 million metric tons of corn or just 5 million ton. The shift by China away from feeding swill to hogs is a key that Doud has focused on in his comments on China before, and said that is “maybe one of the biggest things that ever happened in the history of world agriculture.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 25, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales, U.S. jobless claims, U.S. fourth-quarter GDP, January durable goods orders and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are all set for release at 7:30 a.m. CST. An index of U.S. pending home sales is due out at 9 a.m., followed by U.S. natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. Traders will keep examining the latest weather forecasts and watch for any new export sales that may emerge. Weather Dry conditions will remain in effect across most primary crop areas Thursday. Precipitation will be confined to snow in portions of the far western Plains and Northwest and rain along the Texas coast. Temperatures will be seasonal north and central and seasonal to below normal south.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 24, 2021 |


Senate Confirms Vilsack as Ag Secretary The Senate Tuesday overwhelming approved the nomination of Tom Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary. The Senate voted 92 to seven to approve the nomination via a roll call vote, sending Vilsack back to the Department of Agriculture's top position. Vilsack returns to the agency after serving as Agriculture Secretary during the Obama administration. The Senate allowed for 20 minutes of debate, but opted for short statements from Senate Agriculture Committee leadership before calling for the vote. Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat, says, “After an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, Secretary Vilsack can now get to work.” Noting Vilsack is “uniquely qualified” to head up the USDA, having served there previously, National Association of Wheat Growers CEO Chandley Goule stated Vilsack "has an exceptional understanding of agricultural and rural issues." American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, "His strong track record of leadership and previous experience at USDA will serve rural America well.” ************************************************************************************ Organic Trade Association Hosts Virtual DC Fly-in Organic agriculture representatives met with lawmakers Tuesday through a virtual fly-in. The Organic Trade Association hosted the event, continuing Wednesday, to brief the new administration on the challenges the organic sector faces. The issues from more than 20 organic producers from a dozen states are expansive and including ensuring continuous improvement and accountability in organic standards. Industry advocates also expressed the need for increasing funding for organic research, providing organic farmers, businesses and workers with adequate support and protection to help deal with COVID-19 and restoring full funding to help organic farmers cover their certification fees. The industry also seeks investment in federal programs to support farmers in successfully transitioning to, and staying in, organic production. Organic Trade Association Vice President of Government Affairs Megan DeBates says, “There are plenty of spaces now where our ‘asks’ can come, in the next farm bill, climate change policy, COVID recovery, so this is a great time to be presenting the organic case.” ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Embrace New EPA Position on SREs Farm and biofuel groups welcome the recent Environmental Protection Agency announcement supporting the Tenth Circuit Court’s January 2020 decision regarding small refinery waivers. EPA states that it “agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, consistent with that Congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word ‘extension’ refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.” The four petitioners in the case—the Renewable Fuels Association, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol and National Farmers Union, welcomed the announcement in a statement. The groups say, “This announcement marks a major step forward by the Biden administration to restore the integrity of the Renewable Fuel Standard.” Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request from two refiners to review the Tenth Circuit case, even though EPA did not ask the high court to examine the ruling. Arguments before the Supreme Court are expected in the spring. ************************************************************************************ Ag Energy Coalition Releases 2021 Policy Recommendations The Agriculture Energy Coalition recently announced its 2021 policy recommendations. Those priorities include providing the Department of Agriculture Rural Energy for American program at least $2.5 billion over ten years, including a financial infusion upfront and Increase to 90 percent REAP Loan Guarantee for any loan amount under $1 million. They also seek to extend clean energy tax credits, provide USDA with additional rural development funding and authorize and modernize the Biorefinery Assistance, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Program. The recommendations also include modernizing the Advanced Biofuel Payment Program, increase funding for the BioPreferred program, and make sustainable aviation fuels a priority for USDA. The coalition says USDA Should prioritize the role of biomass in forest management and wildfire risk reduction. Finally, the group asks USDA to consider using the Commodity Credit Corporation to support low carbon renewable energy innovation. The Agriculture Energy Coalition represents a diverse set of interests in agriculture and renewable energy, such as farmers, advanced biofuel and bio-based manufacturers, clean-tech, rural lenders, and environmental NGOs. ************************************************************************************ PLC to Hold Legislative Conference Virtually Next Month The Public Lands Council Tuesday announced their 2021 Legislative Conference is being held virtually March 23-25, 2021. PLC volunteer leaders, staff, and affiliates will host legislative strategy sessions and workshops on how to successfully advocate the livestock industry in our nation's capital. Attendees will hear from Members of Congress, policy experts, scientists, and other industry professionals who are dedicated to Western lands, waters, and perspectives. This also gives public lands ranchers the opportunity to catch up, after a busy start to the year. PLC President Niels Hansen says, “Even though we are meeting virtually this year, all of these things are still a focus of our Legislative Conference.” Panel discussions will focus on how grazing facilitates opportunities for other multiple uses, how permittees help protect open spaces from conversion, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and promote biodiversity. Registration for the event is free and is available on the Public Lands Council website, publiclandscouncil.org. ************************************************************************************ Still Time to Be Counted in the 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey Farmers and ranchers still have time to respond to their 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey. The Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service will continue to accept responses through April to ensure an accurate picture of U.S. local and regional food systems. The 2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey is part of the Census of Agriculture program and required by federal law. These federal laws require producers to respond and USDA to keep identities and answers confidential. Over the next several weeks, NASS will follow-up with additional mailings and phone calls to farmers and ranchers who have not yet responded. Producers are encouraged to complete their questionnaire online at www.agcounts.usda.gov, by mail, or phone as soon as possible. All information collected will be used for statistical purposes only and published on the NASS website in aggregate form this November. To learn more about NASS and the Local Foods Marketing Practices Survey, visit www.nass.usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 24, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Ongoing concerns of too much rain in central Brazil and not enough in Argentina keep traders checking the latest weather forecasts Wednesday. At 9 a.m. CST, U.S. new home sales for January will be released, followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of energy inventories at 9:30 a.m. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell speaks to the U.S. House of Representatives Wednesday morning and may offer more clues about where monetary policy is headed. Weather Wednesday will be dry across most primary crop areas. A few snow showers will cross the northern tier. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal, allowing for more snow melt and recovery from the harsh mid-February cold wave.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 23, 2021 |


Biden EPA Supports 10th Circuit Court’s Decision on SREs The Biden Administration handed a major victory to the corn ethanol industry. The EPA says it agrees with last year’s ruling by the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that rejected the Trump EPA’s retroactive waivers to oil refiners from the Renewable Fuel Standard. The Biden EPA says the Tenth Circuit ruling “better reflects” the law and Congress’s intent in establishing the RFS. Ethanol groups that filed suit against the Trump EPA hailed the EPA’s reversal under the new administration, which did not file a brief with the Supreme Court by Monday’s deadline, backing the earlier EPA’s position. Small refiners appealed the Tenth Circuit ruling, and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, though it’s unclear what impact the latest development might have on the case going forward. Renewable Fuels Association’s CEO Geoff Cooper issued a statement, calling the announcement “a giant step forward” to restore the integrity to the RFS. The RFA and Growth Energy both agreed with EPA’s finding that the small refinery exemption is a temporary measure intended for true economic harm from compliance. The lower court had agreed that only previously existing exemptions could be extended. The RFA estimates that more than four billion gallons of ethanol demand were lost to dozens of Trump EPA RFS waivers. ********************************************************************************************** Trade Policy will be a Big Topic on Thursday Politico says trade policy will move front-and-center this week as the Senate Finance Committee considers Biden’s nominations for the U.S. Trade Representative and the number two Treasury official. Wally Adeyemo (Ah-dah-YAY-moh) is the nominee for Deputy Treasury Secretary, and Katherine Tai is the USTR nominee. How the Biden Administration will handle China in the wake of a trade war will be a key issue for both nominees. As the nation’s top trade negotiator, Tai would be responsible for reviewing the tariffs that Donald Trump put into effect on China and other nations. She would also be responsible for the Phase One Trade Deal that China has yet to live up to. Adeyemo will help lead the administration’s review of sanctions on Chinese leaders and firms that Trump put in place because of Beijing’s human rights abuses. Both nominees will likely take a tough rhetorical stance on China’s trade practices and abuses without making concrete promises that would limit future policy options. That will fall in with Biden’s promise to review Trump’s tariffs on China and other nations before taking further action. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Forecasting Higher Production in 2021 The USDA sees more corn and soybean production ahead this year. A DTN report says the USDA’s initial Grains and Oilseeds Outlook released last week includes a rise in both planted acres and the yield forecast. The agency says corn production will be 15.2 billion bushels for the 2021-2022 crop, while soybean production is forecast at 4.5 billion bushels. Higher demand is in the forecast for both crops, which will keep the year’s ending stocks lower, especially in soybeans. USDA released the Grains and Oilseeds Outlook at its Agricultural Outlook Forum. USDA says farmers will plant 92 million acres of corn. The yield projection is 179.5 bushels per acre, which will make the yield total of 15.2 billion bushels. The average corn price will drop by ten cents to $4.20 a bushel. USDA says farmers will plant 90 million acres of soybeans, up 6.9 million from last year. The soybean projection of 4.5 billion bushels is nine percent higher than the previous marketing year. Ending stocks are projecting to be 145 million bushels. The season-average farm price will be $11.25 a bushel. The wheat production forecast for 2021-2022 is 1.827 billion bushels, almost unchanged from the previous year. Total acreage will be 45 million acres, with a national average yield of 49.1 bushels per acre and a higher farm-gate price of $5.50 per bushel. ********************************************************************************************** Ag Climate Alliance Expands and Makes Policy Recommendations The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance announced its membership is expanding as it puts together new policy working groups. Last year, the Alliance made more than 40 recommendations on how agriculture can help mitigate climate change and the new groups will focus on developing a set of more-specific policy proposals. The eight founding member organizations of the Alliance recently welcomed 14 new groups to the Steering Committee. They include the American Seed Trade Association, American Sugar Alliance, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and many more. Congress and the Biden Administration have expressed high levels of interest in the previously released FACA recommendations and requested additional guidance on achieving the goals laid out in the report released last November. The groups are working on producing more detailed recommendations on the carbon bank concept, tax credits, and other incentives, as well as climate research. “We are encouraged that leaders in both the House and Senate are requesting more detailed guidance to achieve FACA’s climate goals and recommendations,” says AFBF President Zippy Duvall. “We also welcome the 34 new members of FACA who represent farmers, agribusinesses, state governments, and environmental advocates.” ********************************************************************************************** United Fresh Releases 2020 Fourth Quarter Report Fresh produce continues its steady growth at retail, with increased sales for fruits and vegetables during the fourth quarter of 2020. That’s according to a new report on United Fresh, detailing the fourth quarter of last year and the 2020 year-end report. Among the fourth quarter highlights, both fruits and vegetables continued to grow as sales surged across categories driven by consumers making more shopping trips and spending more during those trips. Total fruit sales generated $7.3 billion in the last quarter of 2020, representing 7.7 percent growth over the previous year. Vegetable dollar sales grew 14 percent during the quarter, reaching $8.8 billion. Some of the key numbers from the Year-End report show produce departments generating $7.1 billion in 2020, accounting for 33 percent of total fresh sales, second only to the meat department. Total fruit sales in the U.S. reached $33.7 billion and were 14.4 percent higher than the previous year. Apples, grapes, and bananas ranked as the top three categories in sales. Vegetable sales reached a new high of $35.8 billion and were 14 percent higher than in 2019. Pre-packed salads, tomatoes, and potatoes were the top three categories in sales. *********************************************************************************************** Dry Weather Concerns in South America Continue The corn and soybean harvest in South America continues to accelerate, and as the planting window for the second-corn crop opens, temperature and precipitation patterns become more important. Spotty showers in parts of Brazil are slowing down harvest and delaying the second-corn crop planting efforts. Drier weather in southern Brazil and Argentina has been more favorable for harvest. Weather Trends 360 says the prospect for dry weather will continue into March, which isn’t optimistic for the immature crops and the second-corn crop plants. In central and western Brazil, spotty showers are causing harvest delays as producers dodge hit-or-miss showers in their fields. Late planting of the second-corn crop means a risk of the plants entering the critical pollination period as the rainy season in Brazil ends, which puts the yield at risk. Overall, the southern third of Brazil will be stuck in a dry trend through next month. Dry and hot conditions will cause soil moisture to be at a deficit across much of the region, especially in Argentina.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 23, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Growing Snarl in Global Shipping Bloomberg is reporting this week that an “ongoing surge” in the cost of shipping goods around the world is prompting manufacturers and their customers to search for new arrangements of many kinds. The report says that exporters, importers and their agents are considering buying their own shipping containers and chartering vessels to avoid the sky-high costs and delays of existing services. Most of the 25 million containers in global use are owned or leased by about a dozen ocean carriers including Copenhagen-based AP Moller-Maersk A/S and China's Cosco Shipping Holdings Co. The steel boxes are still scarce on routes from China, Bloomberg says, and reports that exporters in Asia are complaining that rates to move freight to Europe or the U.S. jumped fivefold in the past year. One large maker of toys, such as Sea-Monkeys, says some buyers are deferring shipments until prices cool down. If it persists, the crunch threatens to dim hopes of a smooth recovery from the world economy's pandemic slump, Bloomberg asserts. While a boom in demand for work-from-home technology and medical equipment has fueled a sharp rebound in trade, pressures on the supply side are straining inventories and weighing on balance sheets. “We still have a backlog that's the highest we've had in our history,” Clarence Smith, chairman of 135-year-old Haverty Furniture Cos. of Atlanta, said on a conference call last week. “We're paying a premium to get the product to make sure we can serve our customers” and “we are increasing prices.” A 2016 paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City said “a 15% increase in shipping costs leads to a 0.10 percentage point increase in core inflation after one year.” In the U.S., imported goods account for about 12% of gross domestic product and most arrive by sea. Because U.S. import price indexes don't include information about cargo rates, “shipping cost pressures act as an additional, but often overlooked,” channel for price pressure the Fed paper said. Germany's Schwarz Group – one of the world's biggest supermarket operators – recently considered hiring whole ships to transport goods, according to Hong Kong-based executive Bjoern Lindner. “All of my peers in the industry are scrambling for capacity” and “we have to be creative,” he said. Brian Sondey, chief executive of container leasing firm Triton International Ltd. of Hamilton, Bermuda, said some shippers of cargo are looking to buy their own boxes and “finding that somehow it's a net lower price.” “We've seen some interest in people like the Amazons of the world to start maybe owning some of their own containers because they get charged by the shipping lines when they hold on to containers longer than they are supposed to,” Sondey said on a conference call last week. In the meantime, the container carriers are “pulling out all stops” to meet the sustained high demand, said John Butler, CEO of the World Shipping Council, a group representing the liner industry. “All vessels are sailing, all available container equipment is being used, carriers are setting up new inland depots to speed up trucking turn-time operations and doing their best to keep customers informed in an extremely unpredictable situation,” he said. Some of supply pressure may ease in coming months, given container throughput at Shanghai Port increased by more than 20% during the Lunar New Year holiday compared with a year ago, and throughput at Ningbo Zhoushan Port rose about 29%, Xinhua reported, citing data from from the China Ports & Harbours Association. Still, the longer shipping costs remain elevated, the more the question lingers of whether they'll start to show up in the price of consumer goods. Toymaker Dave Cave, who runs Hong Kong-based Dragon-I Toys – one of the world's biggest manufacturers of toy dinosaurs and whose products include aquatic pets called Sea-Monkeys and Chatimal the Talking Hamster – said it's not worth shipping some toys given the tight margins already in the industry. He warns that unless conditions improve, retailers may raise their prices. “If nothing changes between now and the end of May, everyone who is shipping will land products at a much higher price than the actual products already in the store,” he said in an interview. Some of Cave's clients are deferring shipments until April on hopes that conditions improve. “Never, ever, ever has a container price ever been more than 20% or 30% up or down, never. To be 500% up, this is something new to everybody.” At this stage, though, many economists remain sanguine about the inflation threat and don't expect shipping costs to materially dent shopping baskets in the U.S. and Europe. “Ultimately, whether such costs can be passed on to consumers depends on the strength of consumer demand, which is more related to fiscal and monetary policy in the U.S. and Europe,” said Helen Qiao, chief Greater China economist at Bank of America. So, we will see. Rebuilding links between participants in the global trading system likely will be subject to many types of adjustments – trends producers should watch closely as the enormous global system readjusts, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 23, 2021 |


USDA Changes Definition of 'Agricultural Products' in Trade Data USDA will shift its definition of “agricultural products” in terms of U.S. export data in the January 2021 trade data to be released March 5. The change will adopt the WTO definition of “agricultural products” to include ethanol, distilled spirits, and tobacco products. Those products are not currently considered ag products under USDA's current definition. The change will put the USDA numbers on agricultural products in line with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service is updating its historical datasets for the March 5 change and said it would “make data available under both definitions in its Global Agricultural Trade System (GATS) database.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 23, 2021 |


EPA Now Supports 10th Circuit Court Small Refinery Exemption Decision EPA on Monday announced they have taken a new position on small refinery exemptions (SREs), saying that after “careful consideration” that they support the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in the case of Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) vs. EPA. “EPA supports that court's interpretation of the renewable fuel standard (RFS) small-refinery provisions,” the agency said in a release. “This conclusion, prompted by a detailed review following the Supreme Court's grant of certiorari in the case, represents a change from EPA's position before the 10th Circuit. The change reflects the Agency's considered assessment that the 10th Circuit's reasoning better reflects the statutory text and structure, as well as Congress's intent in establishing the RFS program.” The 10th Circuit in January 2020 vacated and remanded three EPA decisions to grant SREs for the 2016 and 2017 compliance years, holding that a “small refinery's position can be granted only if the refinery satisfies two conditions,” EPA noted, those being that the refinery had to demonstrate an existing exemption and they have to demonstrate disproportionate economic hardship caused by RFS compliance. On Jan. 8, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the 10th Circuit court decision at the request of the small refineries affected by the decision. “After further, careful review of the RFA Decision following the change of Administration, EPA has reevaluated the statutory text and now agrees with the 10th Circuit's reading” of the Clean Air Act section which said that “an exemption must exist for EPA to be able to 'extend' it,” the agency said. “EPA agrees with the court that the exemption was intended to operate as a temporary measure and, consistent with that congressional purpose, the plain meaning of the word 'extension' refers to continuing the status of an exemption that is already in existence.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 23, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Other than an index of U.S. consumer confidence due out at 9 a.m. CST, there are no official reports on Tuesday's docket. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will testify before the U.S. Senate Banking Committee Tuesday morning and offer an assessment of the economy. Traders will check the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news of export sales. Weather Tuesday will be mainly dry and mild across the primary crop areas. This will allow for snow melt and recovery from the harsh cold and snow of the past two weeks. Snow and cold will be confined to the far northern Plain and portions of the Canadian Prairies.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 22, 2021 |


RFS Integrity Act Introduced in the House Democrat Angie Craig of Minnesota and Republican Dusty Johnson of South Dakota introduced the Renewable Fuel Standard Integrity Act into the House of Representatives last week. The goal of the legislation is to reduce the secrecy currently surrounding the small refinery exemption process and bring more certainty into the renewable fuel marketplace. “We applaud the introduction of the RFS Integrity Act and the strong bipartisan effort to restore integrity and transparency to the Renewable Fuel Standard,” says Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor. “The intent of the RFS is to blend more biofuels into our nation’s transportation fuel supply every year, not to have oil companies use questionable tactics to delay and avoid their blending obligations.” She says that creates tremendous amounts of uncertainty for farmers, biofuel producers, and the entire fuel supply chain. The Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t impose a clear deadline for submitting a request for an SRE. If enacted, the RFS Integrity Act would set an annual deadline of June 1 for refineries to submit SRE petitions. It would also bring greater transparency to SREs by no longer excluding the refinery’s name, the number of exempted gallons requested, and the compliance years requested from public disclosure. ********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Production Drops to Lowest Level in Five Years During the week ending on February 12, the Energy Information Administration announced that ethanol production dropped to its lowest level in five months while stockpiles grew. The EIA report says that ethanol production fell to 911,000 barrels per day, down from 937,000 barrels a day during the prior week. That’s the lowest production level since late September. A Successful Farming report says the Midwest, which produces the most ethanol of any region in the country, saw its production drop to 868,000 barrels a day. That’s a drop from the 895,000 per day from the previous week and the lowest output level since late September. The East Coast and Gulf Coast regions stayed at an average of 12,000 barrels per day, while the Rocky Mountain and West Coast production levels were unchanged at 9,000 barrels per day, on average, according to the EIA. Stockpiles increased to 24.297 million barrels in the seven days ending on February 12. In other news the ethanol industry won’t like, the Environmental Protection Agency says that all 16 petitions from small refineries that would exempt them from meeting blending obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard from 2020 are still pending. In total, 66 petitions that date back as far as 2011 are still pending. ********************************************************************************************** Biden Immigration Bill Introduced in Congress Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Representative Linda Sanchez of California, both Democrats, introduced President Biden’s immigration proposal into their respective chambers. The Hagstrom Report says both members of Congress say the bill will “create an earned pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented immigrants, providing Dreamers, Temporary Protective Status holders, and some farm workers with an expedited three-year path to citizenship.” It also gives all other undocumented immigrants who pass background checks and pay taxes an eight-year path to citizenship without fear of deportation. National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern praised everyone involved with moving the legislation forward. However, he says, “Reforms to the immigration system must include changes crucial for the dairy workforce.” Reforms the NMPF wants to see include extending legal protections to current workers and their families that they’ve earned and enables dairy farmers to use a guest worker program to supplement their domestic workforce when they need to. Democratic Representative Jim Costa of California is a co-sponsor of the legislation. “I want to see this pass for the hardworking immigrants that have an earned path to citizenship,” he says. “For too long, we have talked about reform without taking any serious action.” *********************************************************************************************** USDA Fills Key Leadership Positions The USDA announced the appointment of Gloria Montaño (Mon-TAHN-yoh) Greene as the Deputy Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation. Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-shu-know) is the new Farm Service Agency Administrator. Montaño Greene is a former Director of the Farm Service Agency in Arizona from 2014-2017, a position she was appointed to by then-President Obama. She led the implementation of the 2013 Farm Bill Programs across the state. Ducheneaux is the current Executive Director of the Intertribal Agriculture Council, the largest, longest-standing Native American agricultural organization in the U.S. The Council represents all Federally Recognized Tribes and serves 80,000 Native American producers. He also operates his family’s ranch on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north-central South Dakota with his brothers. “We are honored to have professionals of the caliber of Gloria and Zach join our team,” says Katharine Ferguson, Chief of Staff with the Office of the USDA Secretary. “With their leadership of USDA farm and conservation programs, we will create new market opportunities and streams of income for farmers, ranchers, and producers that address climate change and environmental challenges, strengthen local and regional food systems, and lead the world in food, fiber, and feed production for export.” ********************************************************************************************** USDA Clarifies Rules Regarding Buying and Selling Seeds from Other Countries The USDA recently finished a months-long investigation into thousands of reports from citizens who received unsolicited seed packages in the mail last year. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service found no evidence that someone was intentionally trying to harm U.S. agriculture with the shipments. APHIS did confirm that some of the seeds sent to the U.S. were unsolicited, but others were seeds that the recipients ordered, although the buyers didn’t know they were coming from a foreign country. Regardless, most shipments were illegal because they came into the country without a permit or phytosanitary certificate. “Plants and seeds for planting online from other countries can pose a significant risk to U.S. agriculture and natural resources because they can carry harmful insects and pathogens,” the APHIS Plant Protection and Quarantine Program says in a statement. “We’ve been working closely with e-commerce companies and other federal partners to stop the flow of illegal plant and seed shipments into the U.S.” The agency set up a new site to help in its efforts to facilitate the safe trade of plants and seeds through the e-commerce pathway. More information is available at www.aphis.usda.gov. ********************************************************************************************** USCA Wants Beef Imports Halted Because of FMD The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association wants beef imports from Namibia (Nah-ME-bee-ah) halted following reports of Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreaks in the country. Namibia’s livestock industry is divided into two zones by what’s called the Veterinary Cordon Fence. North of the VCF is where the infections have taken place, while south of the fence is considered an FMD-free zone. However, the region’s buffalo populations are consistent carriers of FMD and can move freely in and out of the country, potentially contacting domestic cattle herds. The country’s elephant populations have also been known to damage the fence and allow wild animals to cross to either side. “Now, more than ever, we need to ensure there are strong health and safety standards in place within our food supply chain to guard against threats to our agriculture industry,” says USCA President Brooke Miller. “The U.S. hasn’t had an FMD outbreak for almost 100 years, but we continue to recklessly pursue trading relations with countries that have known outbreaks. We want this to be a prominent topic in the upcoming Senate and House Agriculture Committees.” USCA estimates that a U.S. outbreak of FMD would result in as much as $14 billion in losses. Not only would it hit farm income, but it would also affect consumers and international trade relations.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 22, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Challenging Trade Debate Emerges The Hill this week featured a warning in an article by Desmond Lachman – a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Lachman was formerly a deputy director in the International Monetary Fund's Policy Development and Review Department and the chief emerging market economic strategist at Salomon Smith Barney. He warns President Biden “not to repeat the trade policy mistakes made by the previous administration.” He argues that President Joe Biden inherited a U.S. and global economy in “much worse shape than did former President Donald Trump – and that he can ill-afford to repeat the same trade policy mistakes that the Trump administration made.” He worries especially about the worldwide drift to “protectionist policies that now threatens to be destructive to U.S. and global prosperity.” He says “it would be a gross understatement to say that Trump's trade policy was a dismal failure. Not only did it fail to eliminate the U.S. trade deficit and level the trade playing field with China as it repeatedly promised to do. It also managed to alienate our traditional trade allies in Europe and Japan, lose our economic influence in the Asian Pacific region by pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and abandon our country's traditional world economic leadership role,” Lachman says. He thinks a key economic policy mistake the Trump administration made was to view international trade as a zero-sum game and to take a “my way or the highway” approach to trade policy. This induced him to adopt an “America First” trade policy and to start a costly Chinese trade war on a unilateral rather than on a multilateral basis, Lachman says. It also induced him to undermine the World Trade Organization, to arbitrarily impose import tariffs on our allies on supposedly national security grounds and to eschew participation in multilateral trade agreements. Lachman criticizes “another cardinal trade policy mistake made by the former administration, which was not to realize that our trade deficit is determined fundamentally by the difference between our country's saving and investment levels.” Had it grasped this basic economic principle, it might have refrained from engaging in the large 2017 unfunded corporate tax cut which had the effect of causing us to “revisit the twin budget deficit and trade deficit problem of the Reagan years,” the commentary said. Lachman is especially worried that while the Biden administration has yet to articulate a coherent international trade policy, “it is far from clear that it will be making a clean break from Trump's trade policies and restoring the country's traditional role of promoting freer international trade.” He sees as a positive the Biden administration efforts to adopt a more multilateral and rules-based approach to trade than the Trump administration did in general and that it “wishes to restore the WTO's authority in particular.” Another encouraging sign is that President Biden has not ruled out the possibility that the United States might re-join the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He also approves that the new administration also appears to understand that our European trade allies share our concern about China's multiple unfair trade practices and that our leverage in trade negotiations with China would be enhanced if we cooperated with Europe. This is particularly the case considering that European trade with China now exceeds that of ours. On the negative side, Lachman worries that President Biden is pursuing a “Buy American” program that appears to follow the previous “America First” playbook. And he sees problems from the new administration's commitment to fast track a $1.9 trillion-dollar budget package “that is almost sure to create a twin deficit problem that would cause the dollar to rise on the back of higher U.S. interest rates caused by a more expansive budget policy.” With the world still in the grip of its worst post-war economic recession and with protectionist policies on the rise, the world very much needs U.S. international economic leadership to maintain an open international trade system. To provide that leadership, the U.S. will need to lead by example. That leadership will require repairing fences with our traditional European economic allies to facilitate greater international cooperation to ensure that all countries, including China, play by the rules of the game in their international trade policies. It will also require the Biden administration to “dial back on its protectionist tendencies and refrain from pursuing a reckless budget policy that threatens to exacerbate current international economic imbalances.” So, we will see. It is clear that the administration almost certainly will find itself challenged as it attempts to support economic recovery from the coronavirus without inflating its currency—and a strong debate is now underway about the implications of those threats. That debate should be watched very closely as new policies are considered and implemented, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 22, 2021 |


US Ag Export Forecast Raised To New Record U.S. agriculture is now forecast to see record exports in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 of $157 billion, up from a November forecast of $152 billion. Imports are also forecast at a record mark up $137.5 billion, up from $137 billion in USDA's November forecast. The two forecasts would result in U.S. agriculture registering a trade surplus of $19.5 billion, the biggest since a $21.1 billion surplus in FY 2017. For China, USDA forecasts their FY 2021 imports at $31.5 billion, up $4.5 billion from their November outlook, “due to strong first quarter shipments and surging sales, most notably of corn,” USDA said. “China is forecast to remain the largest U.S. agricultural market in FY 2021.” The resulting trade surplus for U.S. agriculture would be up $17 billion from the FY 2020 result, which was the smallest trade balance for U.S. agriculture since it was $2.1 billion in 1972.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 22, 2021 |


USDA, FDA Insist 'No Credible Evidence' COVID Is Transmitted Via Food Or Food Packaging There is “no credible evidence of food or food packaging associated with or as a likely source of viral transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus causing COVID-19,” according to a statement issued by acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea and acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock. “While there are relatively few reports of the virus being detected on food and packaging, most studies focus primarily on the detection of the virus' genetic fingerprint rather than evidence of transmission of virus resulting in human infection,” the statement said. “Given that the number of virus particles that could be theoretically picked up by touching a surface would be very small and the amount needed for infection via oral inhalation would be very high, the chances of infection by touching the surface of food packaging or eating food is considered to be extremely low.” The agencies said they were sharing the information “based upon the best available information from scientific bodies across the globe, including a continued international consensus that the risk is exceedingly low for transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans via food and food packaging.” Further, the USDA/FDA statement indicated food products and food packaging has “not been attributed” as a transmission source via national or international surveillance systems. This comes as China has maintained that this can be a source of infection and a World Health Organization (WHO) team that investigated the situation in China indicated that further exam needs to be done on whether frozen foods and the cold supply chain are possible transmission methods.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 22, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets As usual, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and watching for any export sales news that might emerge Monday morning. An index of U.S. leading indicators will be released at 9 a.m. CST, followed by USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. Weather Monday features rain and snow in the eastern Midwest through the East Coast and Southeast. Dry conditions will be in place elsewhere along with notably milder temperatures.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 19, 2021 |


China Surpasses U.S., Becomes EU’s Biggest Trading Partner New data from the European Union puts China ahead of the United States as the EU’s biggest trading partner. A spokesperson from China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry calls the data “great news for both sides.” 2020 saw China-EU economic and trade ties grow stronger against the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 60 percent of EU companies in China are ready to increase investment, according to the latest survey by the EU Chamber of Commerce in China. At the end of last year, China and the EU announced the conclusion of negations on a China-EU investment agreement that elevates relations and cooperation between the two. China claims that for mutual investment, the agreement means wider market access, better business environment and a brighter prospect of cooperation. In 2020, EU imports from China increased 5.6 percent, while exports increased 2.2 percent. Although the US and the UK remain the EU's largest export markets, trade with both countries dropped significantly. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Dealer Statutory Trust to Protect Livestock Sellers The Department of Agriculture this week announced a new Dealer Statutory Trust to Protect Livestock Sellers. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, signed in December, amended the Packers and Stockyards Act by adding language to establish a "Dealer Statutory Trust" for the benefit of unpaid cash sellers of livestock. Much like the existing packer and poultry trusts, the amendment requires livestock dealers to hold all livestock purchased. If livestock has been resold, the receivables or proceeds from such sale, in trust for the benefit of all unpaid cash sellers of livestock until full payment has been received by those sellers. Dealers whose average annual livestock purchases do not exceed $100,000 are exempt. Livestock sellers who do not receive timely payment from a dealer may file claims on the dealer's statutory trust. Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa of California applauded the move. The Democrat states, "I am pleased that USDA has taken the necessary steps to put these protections in place for the benefit of livestock sellers throughout our country." ************************************************************************************ Farm Groups Submit Comment on Phosphate Duties Farm groups this week submitted comments to the U.S. International Trade Commission regarding duties on Russian and Moroccan imports of phosphate fertilizer. The groups include the American Soybean Association, the National Corn Growers Association and the National Cotton Council. The groups say, “countervailing duties on these imports will adversely impact the availability of phosphate fertilizer in the United States and adversely affect crop production and farmer livelihoods.” The comments are part of the USITC’s hearing on a petition from the Mosaic Company for the countervailing duties on Russian and Moroccan imports. Mosaic says the company’s survival depends on stopping unfairly subsidized imports. However, the farm groups say countervailing duties impact availability of phosphate fertilizers and lead to shortages. Additionally, the groups say the duties will reduce competition and choice available to farmers in the U.S. marketplace. The farm groups request that the USITC remove the countervailing duties. Phosphate fertilizers are widely used by corn, cotton, soybean, and other crop producers throughout the United States. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Applauds USDA For Extending COVID Vaccine Support Farm groups welcome plans by the Department of Agriculture to assist states in administering the COVID-19 vaccine. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service this week announced it has deployed 119 employees to assist in several states, largely in Nevada and Oklahoma. The USDA employees are helping to vaccinate people at various rapid points of distribution, including mobile teams and pop-up clinics. Farm groups, such as the National Pork Producers Council, welcomed the news from USDA. NPPC says that, declared essential by the Department of Homeland Security, hog farmers, veterinarians, livestock haulers, harvest facility employees and other workers across the supply chain, play a vital role in food security and rural economies. This week, NPPC also launched a campaign, “You’re Essential, So It’s Essential,” to encourage U.S. pork industry workers to get vaccinated as soon as possible. visit nppc.org/essential to learn more about the NPPC vaccination campaign. ************************************************************************************ USB Sets 2022 Investment Directions Directors of the United Soybean Board this week met virtually to define strategies and goals for 2022 investments. Those priorities include strengthening soy's position in the U.S. and global marketplaces related to soybean meal, oil and sustainability. USB's financial stewardship and program development responsibilities include investing in projects to promote the sustainability of U.S. soy as a market differentiator domestically and to build new markets abroad. In addition, the soy checkoff funds education to enhance end-user awareness of soy products and research to strengthen the resilience of soybean production, improve meal quality and develop new uses for soybean oil. Nearly 500 proposals were submitted to achieve checkoff objectives in research education and promotion. The shared goal of all selected proposals is to strengthen U.S. soy's reputation and competitive advantage when it comes to nutrition, quality and sustainability. Between now and USB's next meeting in July, checkoff farmer-leaders will review proposals in detail to determine strategic fit ahead of making their final 2022 project portfolio recommendations. ************************************************************************************ CattleFax Cow-Calf Survey Announced CattleFax has introduced its annual Cow-Calf Survey. Information requested in the survey provides participants and the industry with valuable data regarding industry benchmarks and trends. Survey participants will receive a results summary packet, with useful benchmarking information that will allow managers and owners to evaluate their own operations. Items such as cow-calf profitability, tendencies of high and low return producers, regional data, and other valuable material are included. To receive the summary packet, a valid email address must be submitted. All individual results will be confidential and remain anonymous. By completing the survey and submitting a valid email address, participants will also be entered into a drawing to win a $700 CattleFax voucher. The credit can be used for any CattleFax memberships, registration fees for education seminars, including Corporate College and Risk Management Seminars, and/or registration fees for the annual Outlook and Strategies Session. The survey can be accessed by going to CattleFax.com. The deadline to complete the survey is February 22, 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 19, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Retail Sales Surprise Bloomberg is reporting this week that U.S. retail sales surged in January “by the most in seven months, beating all estimates and suggesting fresh stimulus checks helped spur a rebound in household demand following a weak fourth quarter.” The value of overall sales increased 5.3% from the prior month after a 1% decline in December, the Department of Commerce (DOC) report said. “It was the first monthly gain since September. All major categories showed sharp advances,” DOC said. Ahead of the report, the median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 1.1% monthly gain in retail sales. A surge in COVID-19 cases curbed spending at year-end, but since then, virus cases have ebbed and states have started to ease some restrictions on businesses and activity. The ability to shop and eat out, paired with the latest round of $600 stimulus payments, helped drive spending increases across a variety of categories, Bloomberg said. The jump in retail sales could further embolden Republican opposition to President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus plan which many in the GOP already criticize as “too big,” Bloomberg said. Even so, Democrats are on track to narrowly pass the package without Republican votes – and the new retail sales data could also be held up as evidence of how critical relief payments are to the economy and jobs. The report shows that “when fiscal aid arrives to household balance sheets, it does get turned around fairly quickly and materializes in economic activity,” Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays Plc, said. With another stimulus package likely in March, “we should see a pretty rapid acceleration in demand and household spending as we move into the into the second quarter, which could be continued if vaccinations continue apace, and mobility gradually recovers over time,” Gapen said. Non-store retailers' sales, which includes online stores, rose 11%, the most in two years. Food services and drinking places rose 6.9% as restrictions eased at restaurants and bars across the country. Furniture stores, and electronics and appliance merchants also saw double-digit gains in the month. The so-called “control group” subset of sales, which excludes food services, car dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations, rose 6%, the largest gain since June. Bloomberg said its own economists reported that “The strength and composition of retail sales (specifically the tilt toward discretionary categories) is an encouraging signal that consumers' aggressive saving patterns from 2020 are starting to ease—a development which, if sustained, could unleash a torrent of pent-up demand in 2021.” The report noted that gas station receipts rose 4%, at least in part reflected higher fuel prices. The retail figures aren't adjusted for price changes, so sales also reflect changes in gasoline costs. At the end of January, the average nationwide price for a gallon of gasoline was $2.42 – roughly in line with pre-pandemic prices. Other data from the Labor Department showed producer prices increased 1.3% in January, the biggest gain in records dating back to 2009, driven by broad-based gains in categories including energy and food. The core measure, which excludes energy and food, jumped by 1.2% – also the most in records – over the prior month. Meanwhile, the core consumer price index – a key measure of prices paid by U.S. consumers – was unchanged in January for a second straight month, pointing to the pandemic's lingering restraint on inflation. A separate report from the Federal Reserve on Wednesday “showed manufacturing extended its recovery in early 2021. Output rose in January by more than forecast, though it remained 1.9% below the pre-pandemic level.” Bloomberg also noted that the National Association of Home Builders showed increased confidence among residential construction firms in February as the allure of low interest rates generated more prospective buyer traffic. Still, rising construction costs threaten to slow demand, Bloomberg warned. So, we will see. The declines in COVID-19 cases are clearly good news, as are the stronger retail markets. Still, the threats from the virus are very significant and efforts to test and vaccinate continue to be extremely important — key trends producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 19, 2021 |


Senators Push For COVID Vaccinations For Farm, Food Workers There needs to be a “swift vaccination of farm and food chain workers” as it is “imperative that these essential frontline workers be included in initial phases of vaccine distribution nationwide,” Senate Ag Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said in a letter to White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Jeff Zients. The lawmakers lamented that states and other jurisdictions have excluded farm and food chain workers in their vaccine distribution plans. They also called for vaccines distributed through employers be done in consultation with union and worker representatives. “This must be done in order to both adequately ensure their health and safety while also guaranteeing the continuity of food production and distribution in the U.S.,” the lawmakers said.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 19, 2021 |


USDA's Meyer Outlines 2021 Acreage, Trade Prospects The USDA Outlook Forum is in virtual form this year, with USDA Chief Economist Seth Meyer laying out the economic landscape for the agricultural sector. He noted the rebuilding of the Chinese hog herd as a factor in markets, including corn and soybeans. For corn, Meyer detailed, “What we have seen, though, in China, and what has sparked this big import of corn has been the spread between internal prices for corn in China and what corn prices are elsewhere in the world.” He put the difference in price at round $150 per metric ton. He also said the tariff-rate quota (TRQ) will not be a limit on Chinese corn imports. For 2021 U.S. planted acreage, he said USDA sees corn planting at 92 million acres and soybeans at 90 million for a combined 182 million acres, a record. For wheat, Meyer said that USDA sees a “small rise” in wheat area for 2021 to 45 million acres. He also noted that winter wheat harvested area is a “question.” He also said USDA sees cotton plantings at 12 million. USDA sees season average prices for corn at $4.20 per bushel, soybeans at $11.25 per bushel and wheat at $5.50 per bushel in their respective 2021-22 marketing years, Meyer said, while the agency expects higher prices forecast compared with 2020 for live cattle at $115 per cwt., hogs at $50.50 per cwt., and broilers at 84.5 cents per pound. But to hit the price marks, he said there needs to be “robust domestic demand and solid exports.” Interestingly, Meyer commented on the Food Box program, noting a question is if USDA maintains the program. Overall U.S. agricultural exports in Fiscal Year (FY) are now seen at a record $157 billion against imports at a record $137.5 billion for a trade surplus of $19.5 billion. That would be $17 billion higher than FY 2020 and the biggest trade black ink since FY 2017 when it was $21.1 billion

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 19, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's 2021 Ag Outlook Forum continues Friday with traders watching for the release of new-crop balance sheets and additional market comments. At 7:30 a.m. CST, USDA will release its weekly export sales report for dates that overlap China's New Year celebration. U.S. existing home sales for January are due out at 9 a.m., followed by USDA's monthly cattle on-feed report at 2 p.m. CST. Weather Most primary crop areas will be dry Friday. We'll also see milder temperatures as this week's bitter cold wave eases. Precipitation will focus in the eastern U.S. as rain and along the Rockies as snow. The Rockies snow system will move into the western Midwest Sunday.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 18, 2021 |


Bipartisan Push Seeks More Farmers and Ranchers Eligible for PPP Loans Lawmakers seek clarified terms to ensure more farmers and ranchers are eligible for loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. The request was in a letter to the Treasury Department and Small Business Administration. Led by Representative Ron Kind and Senator Tammy Baldwin, Wisconsin Democrats, along with Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the lawmakers say many farmers were falling through the cracks in when it was first created last year. Kind introduced legislation over the summer to increase the number of farmers eligible to receive a loan by allowing them to use gross income to calculate their loan award. The legislation was passed as part of the recent COVID-19 relief package. However, many farmers and ranchers are organized as partnerships or limited liability companies, which are taxed differently than other farm and ranch entities. These farmers have been unable to apply for loans under the new calculation because of the SBA’s interpretation of eligibility for partnerships or limited liability companies. ************************************************************************************ USDA Ready to Assist Farmers, Ranchers and Communities Affected by Winter Storms The Department of Agriculture Wednesday reminded farmers and ranchers of programs to assist them through the current winter storms. Acting Agriculture Secretary Kevin Shea says, “USDA is committed to getting help to producers and rural Americans impacted by the severe.” USDA offers several risk management and disaster assistance options to help producers recover after they are impacted by severe weather, including winter storms and extreme cold. Producers that signed up for Federal Crop Insurance or the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program who suffer losses are asked to report crop damage to their crop insurance agent or local FSA office, respectively, within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days. Livestock and perennial crop producers often have more limited risk management options available, so there are several disaster programs for them. Those programs include the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Emergency Assistance for Livestock. Producers are encouraged to contact their local Farm Service Agency office for more information. ************************************************************************************ Grassley Calls on McCarthy to Visit Iowa to See Renewable Energy Senator Chuck Grassley this week invited Gina McCarthy to visit his home state to learn about renewable fuel production and overall sustainable energy strategies. The Iowa Republican says, "It would be a great opportunity for the Administration to learn just how resilient the middle of the country can be." McCarthy, former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator during the Obama administration, now serves as the White House National Climate Advisor for President Joe Biden. In 2009, Grassley invited McCarthy, who had never been to a farm before, to visit Iowa to learn about corn and soybean farming technology and see firsthand how Iowa farmers contribute to clean energy production. Since then, Iowa's agriculture and energy industry has continued to expand. Iowa now ranks second in the nation for wind energy production, leading the nation with the highest wind power share. In 2019, wind turbines in Iowa generated more electricity than the state's coal-fired power plants for the first time. ************************************************************************************ Corn Refiners Release Economic Impact Study A new study reveals the economic impact of the corn refining industry, featuring a $47 billion economic output in 2020. The Corn Refiners Association released the study this week, detailing the industry’s contributions to the U.S. economy in terms of sales, jobs, salaries, purchases, and taxes. The study finds the economic power of the corn wet-milling industry results in $3.3 billion in state and federal taxes, 167,700 total jobs, $10 billion in total wages and $47 billion in total economic output. John Bode, President and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association, says, “This report underscores the essential role America’s corn refiners play in our nation’s agricultural and economic value chain.” John Dunham and Associates completed the economic study. The study calculates the direct impact of the corn refining industry on jobs, wages, economic output and taxes at the national level. It also examines the economic impact on a state-by-state basis, as the association's member companies operate 25 plants in ten states. ************************************************************************************ EPA Commits to Strengthening Science Used in Chemical Risk Evaluations The Environmental Protection Agency this week announced the agency will refine its approach to selecting science used in chemical risk evaluations. Specifically, the agency will revamp its selection and review of scientific studies used to inform Toxic Substances Control Act chemical risk evaluations. The effort, the EPA says, is part of the agency's effort in continuing to act on the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to making evidence-based decisions. EPA's ongoing effort to update its systematic review approach that was issued in 2018 is also part of EPA's broader efforts to review the first ten TSCA risk evaluations. This review will be done following executive orders and other directives provided by the Biden-Harris administration to ensure that all agency actions meet statutory obligations, be guided by the best available science, ensure the integrity of Federal decision-making, and protect human health and the environment. EPA expects to publish and take public comment on a TSCA systematic review protocol later this year. ************************************************************************************ Noble Research Institute Focuses on Regenerative Agriculture Noble Research Institute announced Wednesday that it will focus all of its operations on regenerative agriculture. The organization also will set its primary goal to regenerate millions of acres of degraded grazing lands across the United States. Noble will achieve the vision through its direct work with farmers and ranchers across the nation as they transition to and profitably maintain regenerative management of their lands. Steve Rhines, president and CEO of Noble, says, “Regenerative agriculture is the next step in the land stewardship journey.” Regenerative agriculture differs from both mainstream conventional and organic agriculture in that it does not focus on inputs, such as fertilizer. Instead, regenerative agriculture uses interactions among soil, plants, water and animals to help build resilience in the soil. Noble’s programming will center exclusively on regenerative ranching, which applies regenerative principles specifically to grazing lands. About 85% of U.S. grazing lands are unsuitable for producing human food crops, such as corn.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 18, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Political Clash on Minimum Wage Bloomberg is reporting this week that the proposal to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 has triggered a fierce lobbying battle, pitting some powerful business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce against large labor unions and civil rights coalitions. These groups have been holding virtual meetings and mobilizing grassroots letter-writing and phone call blitzes to sway lawmakers, particularly moderates in both parties, as they consider attaching the wage increase to the larger pandemic relief package sought by President Biden. The report also thinks that the proposal is serving as a test of whether unions and other groups generally aligned with Democrats can push through a top issue for them now that the party narrowly controls both chambers of Congress and holds the White House. For the Chamber and some other large business groups, who in the past have had more ties to Republicans on policy, the debate will test their clout with the new Congress. Democrats and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are intent on increasing the wage minimum. But how they get it across the finish line is in question. The House Education and Labor Committee approved the increase in its portion of the pandemic relief bill. But opposition from moderate Democrats in the Senate may doom any strategy to pass it using the reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has opposed a $15 minimum wage and suggested an increase to $11. Another crucial vote, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., said she doesn't support including the wage hike in a stimulus bill. Biden said during a news interview earlier this month that he doubted it would survive as part of the package. Along with the political realities, his reasoning included the additional complication that Senate reconciliation rules may not even allow it. The Senate parliamentarian hasn't made a ruling on that yet but a minimum wage hike could also be pushed as a standalone bill. Proponents of the hike such as the Service Employees International Union and the National Employment Law Project say the virus-driven economic downturn illustrates that a boost is necessary to help lift people out of poverty. Coalitions of companies, such as Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, argue that raising the wage helps business by reducing worker turnover and increasing productivity. Heavy hitters including Amazon.com Inc., have also thrown their weight behind support for the proposal, saying $15 “is the minimum that anyone in the U.S. should earn for an hour of labor.” “In this moment where front-line workers and essential workers put their lives on the line during this pandemic and are still having trouble making ends meet, it really shows how overdue this change is,” said Gaylynn Burroughs, senior policy counsel of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of more than 200 organizations. The $7.25 federal minimum wage has been in place for almost 12 years. “There's obviously lobbying going on in DC and we'll make our strongest case possible. But this isn't a fight that's going to be won inside the halls of Congress. This is about members of Congress hearing from their constituents,” said Judy Conti, the government affairs director at the National Employment Law Project. SEIU, which started the “Fight for 15” campaign in 2012, worked with its partners to place roughly 3,000 phone calls to members of Congress during the week the measure was introduced on Jan. 26. The Coalition on Human Needs, a collection of organizations including civil rights and religious groups, has generated more than 150,000 letters to House and Senate offices from individuals in support of raising the minimum. Deborah Weinstein, the group's executive director, said she will also be increasing virtual meetings on the Hill in the days ahead. Opponents of the boost, such as the American Farm Bureau Federation and the International Franchise Association, argue that a large nationwide wage increase would hinder economic recovery by spurring business closures, higher prices for consumers, and increased unemployment. “There's no reason Congress shouldn't discuss raising the minimum wage, we just think that the $15 number is a political number that's not based on a real economic analysis,” said Glenn Spencer, the senior vice president of the employment policy division at the Chamber. “Hopefully we'll find people who are a little more willing to get something done. Otherwise, we're back into that '15-or-bust' mentality which results in an increase of zero.” The National Restaurant Association activated its grassroots network and has already sent “tens of thousands” of messages to lawmakers' offices regarding the wage increase and another part of the proposal that would eventually eliminate the tip credit, said Sean Kennedy, the group's executive vice president for public affairs. He called it “one of our more successful” campaigns over the past five months. “This is a huge challenge for an industry that's on the ropes, and it will have the exact opposite impact of relief for us,” said Kennedy. So, we will see. This is an intense campaign, with many Democratic views involved. It also is one with high stakes that producers should watch closely as it proceeds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 18, 2021 |


USDA Housing Reg Review Quickly Finished By OMB The Agriculture Department has announced an extension of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums on USDA Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loans through June 30, 2021. The extension was part of a larger Biden administration initiative on federally connected housing. “USDA recognizes that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an almost unprecedented housing affordability crisis in the United States. That's why USDA is taking this important action today to extend relief to the hundreds of thousands of individuals and families holding USDA Single Family Housing loans,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson said. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed its review of a notice from USDA on relief for Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program (SFHGLP) borrowers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic under programs operated by the Rural Housing Service (RHS) at the agency. The notice was received by OMB on February 12, with the review showing as completed February 15 “consistent with change.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 18, 2021 |


Action Coming on Biden Trade, EPA Nominees The nomination of Katharine Tai to be U.S. Trade Representative may not see full action in the U.S. Senate until late March even though she is not a controversial nominee, according to Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Grassley formerly chaired the Senate Finance Committee which has responsibility for trade in the Senate and will be the prime panel conducting Tai's nomination hearing. As for the nomination of Michael Regan to be EPA administrator, Grassley said he expects the Senate to vote next week or the following week. Neither nominee is expected to have difficulty winning final Senate approval.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 18, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's 2021 Ag Outlook Forum kicks off two days of talks at 6 a.m. CST Thursday with 2021 planting estimates expected early. There is no weekly export sales report until Friday morning, but U.S. jobless claims, U.S. new housing starts for January and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor will be out at 7:30 a.m. CST. The U.S. Energy Department will have natural gas inventories at 9:30 a.m., followed by other weekly energy inventories at 10:00 a.m., including ethanol. Weather Thursday will be dry with milder temperatures in the Plains and most of the Midwest. Rain, ice and snow are in store from the eastern Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic coast. Portions of southern Texas will also have mixed precipitation and continued very cold conditions for the region.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 17, 2021 |


Senates Sets Vote for Vilsack Confirmation The Senate will vote to confirm Tom Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary next week. The exact time is uncertain, but the Senate calendar has the vote planned for Tuesday, February 23. The Senate will debate the nomination for 20 minutes before voting, with the majority and minority parties receiving equal time. Expect smooth sailing for Vilsack, who breezed through the Senate Agriculture Committee nomination hearing earlier this month. If confirmed next week, Vilsack will rejoin the Department of Agriculture just a few days over a month since the Biden administration took over the White House. During his confirmation hearing, Vilsack stated the world and nation are different from his previous stint leading USDA. Vilsack says, "Today, the pandemic, racial justice and equity, and climate change must be our priorities." If confirmed, Vilsack will return to USDA after serving as Agriculture Secretary during the Obama administration, and most recently as President and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. ************************************************************************************ Philippines Continues Debate to Raise Pork Import Quota The Philippines’ government moved one step closer to expanding the quota for pork imports last week. Specifically, the government is proposing to raise the minimum access volume to 400,000 metric tons to address shortages and higher prices for the preferred protein. The current minimum access volume is 54,000 metric tons, and the country's initial proposal increased the figure to 164,000 metric tons. The proposal will need to be approved by a management committee before submitted to the Philippines President for approval, and then ratified by Congress. This latest proposal comes on the heels of a recent meeting between the National Pork Producers Council and the Philippines Ambassador to the U.S. NPPC has been working with the Philippines’ government for more than a year to negotiate an expansion of the quota and lower pork import tariffs. In a statement, the organization says, “NPPC welcomes the government’s proposal, as the Philippines holds tremendous market opportunities for U.S. pork exports.” ************************************************************************************ Students Set to Celebrate National FFA Week Next week, more than 760,000 FFA members across the country will share the story of agriculture as part of National FFA Week. National FFA Week always runs Saturday to Saturday and encompasses February 22, George Washington's birthday. This year, the week kicks off on February 20 and culminates on Saturday, February 27. The National FFA Board of Directors designated the weeklong tradition, which began in 1948, recognizing Washington's legacy as a farmer. During FFA Week, the six national FFA officers will connect virtually with chapters across the country. National FFA Week is also a time for alumni and supporters to advocate for agricultural education and FFA. Alumni and Supporters will celebrate Alumni Day on Tuesday, February 22, and on Thursday, February 25, the National FFA Foundation will celebrate Give FFA Day, a 24-hour campaign encouraging the public to support various needs impacting FFA members. Friday, February 26, all FFA members and supporters are encouraged to wear blue and show their FFA pride. ************************************************************************************ Baldwin to Chair Senate Ag Appropriations Subcommittee Senator Tammy Baldwin will chair the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. Announced last week, the Wisconsin Democrat says, “I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support farmers, ranchers, and producers.” Senator Baldwin has served on the Senate Appropriations Committee since 2015, and she will also serve as a member on three other appropriation subcommittees in the Senate. Baldwin says she seeks to "build a stronger and more secure agriculture economy, and get the job done on rural economic development for communities that too often feel they are being left behind by Washington." In addition to serving on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin serves on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. However, Baldwin is not a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announces Monica Rainge as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced Monica Armster Rainge as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights for the agency. Rainge is an agricultural lawyer and mediator. She has worked in the public and private agricultural sectors for more than 25 years. She recently served as the Director of Land Retention and Advocacy for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives-Land Assistance Fund. There, she led the development and management of outreach and technical assistance programs that support regional land retention and advocacy initiatives for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. Rainge also directed the Federation's Regional Heirs Property and Mediation Center, which provides USDA-certified mediation services in Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. Katharine Ferguson, chief of staff in the office of the secretary, stated, “She has dedicated her career in law and advocacy to fighting for underserved and marginalized communities in food, agriculture and natural resources management.” Rainge will help USDA efforts to ensure equity across the Department. ************************************************************************************ Former U.S. Ambassador Gregg Doud Joins Aimpoint Research Aimpoint Research announced Tuesday Former U.S. Trade Ambassador Gregg Doud joined their team. Doud serves Aimpoint Research as its vice president of global situation awareness and chief economist. Doud most recently served as Chief Agricultural Negotiator in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and is one of the primary architects of the U.S.-China "Phase One" trade agreement. Aimpoint Research specializes in providing intelligence to the agri-food value chain, and Doud brings “an unparalleled global perspective and economic expertise to the team.” He will work closely with members of the Executive Intelligence Network and play a major role as the organization tackles its thought leadership priorities, including Farmer of the Future, Next Gen Consumer, Mobility of the Future, and more. Before his role with the U.S. Trade Representative, Doud served as President of the Commodity Markets Council, the leading trade association for commodity futures exchanges and their industry counterparts.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 17, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Little Guys Threaten Big Problem for Big Tech The New York Times reported this week about “a new threat to big tech.” It described legal threats large firms like Google are facing in antitrust cases from Europe's top competition enforcer, the Justice Department and attorneys general from more than 30 states and territories. However, it also described threats from numerous lawsuits from smaller firms. The report highlighted on a suit by the operator of a website called Sweepstakes Today and its claim that Google used its power over online advertising to “bleed his website dry.” In December, the firm sued Google, claiming “substantial” damages. The Times sees this case as potentially “one of a host of private antitrust lawsuits stemming from government cases against Google and Facebook.” Already, more than 10 suits echoing the federal and state cases have been filed against one or both of the Silicon Valley giants the Times says and notes that “many of them lean on evidence unearthed by the government investigations.” Last month, for example, a media company in West Virginia sued Google and Facebook, arguing that the tech companies had worked together to monopolize the digital ad market. Its lawyers extensively cited evidence from the government cases. Legal experts say many more such suits are likely this year, and could be a source of mounting legal pressure on the tech companies. Federal and state officials have filed several lawsuits against Google, saying it illegally maintained monopolies in search and the online advertising market. Also, suits filed against Facebook by the Federal Trade Commission and a group of states could seek to break the company up, the Times says. If successful, private lawsuits could be increasingly costly for Facebook and Google. The companies work with millions of advertisers and publishers every year and Google hosts apps from scores of developers, meaning there are many potential litigants, so the damages could be significant. “There's a fair amount of scrambling going on now and folks are trying to figure out what private suits might be successful and how to bring them,” said Joshua Davis, a professor at the University of San Francisco's law school. Julie Tarallo McAlister, a spokeswoman for Google, said that the company would defend itself against the claims. The private suits follow the government ones for a simple reason: Regulators have distinct advantages when it comes to obtaining evidence. Federal and state investigators can collect internal documents and interview executives before filing a suit. As a result, their complaints are filled with insider knowledge about the companies. Private individuals can seek that kind of evidence only after they file lawsuits. If the government cases succeed against Google or Facebook at trial, the win is likely to bolster the case for private lawsuits, experts told the Times. Lawyers could point to those victories as evidence the company broke the law and move quickly to their primary aim: obtaining monetary damages. The people bringing the cases against the tech giants include publishers, advertisers and users. The firm “Sweepstakes Today” aggregates prize contests from around the country. Its revenue comes from advertising that is sold partly by Google, according to Craig McDaniel's lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status. For years, the website generated about $150,000 in annual revenue and turned a profit, according to the complaint. But its revenue has dropped since 2012, a fall that the suit blames on Google's dominance in online advertising. The firm, with its public persona of “Mr. Sweepy,” said that its revenue had “dropped like a rock” and that it could go out of business. It argued that Google had also harmed its earnings by classifying the Mr. Sweepy site as a venue for online gambling, causing him to receive lower-quality ads. Other publishers that recently have filed antitrust complaints against Google include the lyrics website Genius — which sued Google in 2019 citing its use of Genius' lyrics data in search results, only to have its case dismissed — and the progressive magazine The Nation. Both are among the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the law firm Boies Schiller Flexner that is seeking class-action status. Another prominent law firm, Berger Montague, has also filed a complaint against Google on behalf of publishers. The sweeping government claims against Facebook have helped persuade potential plaintiffs that they might have a winning case, even against huge companies like Google and Facebook. “I think it adds credibility to the allegations,” said Tina Wolfson, a California lawyer who filed a private lawsuit against Facebook. But lawyers bringing the lawsuits also face difficulties, including the large numbers of lawyers employed by Big Tech. These experts may try to force the cases to go to arbitration, where each individual claim would be weighed on its own rather than in one big group. And the law includes limitations on which private citizens can sue over antitrust violations. And, it may also be difficult to calculate payouts, especially when tech giants offer their products free to users making it difficult to calculate hypothetical losses. Still, the potential payouts are big, given the size of the tech companies. So, we will see. The big tech companies are extremely powerful competitors in nearly all economic sectors, and they likely also will be increasingly prominent targets for litigation — fights that could affect ag producers in numerous ways, and which should be watched closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 17, 2021 |


USDA Outlook Forum This Week USDA's Annual Outlook Forum will be held February 18-19, with the 97th version of the annual even virtual for the first time in its history. The theme is Building on Innovation: A Pathway to Resilience. It will be interesting to see if USDA-designate Tom Vilsack makes an appearance at the event since his confirmation vote in the U.S. Senate is now set for February 23. The first day of the forum will still focus on the overall U.S. agricultural economic and acreage prospects for the 2021/22 season, with the updated forecast for U.S. agricultural exports for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 due out Thursday morning. The Friday focus will be on the detailed balance sheets for U.S. crops and livestock from USDA analysts, offering and update to the Agricultural Projections to 2030 data released late last fall. Plus, some veteran agriculture folks will open the Friday portion of the program, including Chuck Conner (National Council of Farmer Cooperatives), Zippy Duvall (American Farm Bureau Federation), Krysta Harden (U.S. Dairy Export Council) and Rob Larew (National Farmers Union) who will address “Hot Topics in Food and Agriculture.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 17, 2021 |


International Trade Administration Sets Final Fertilizer Duties The International Trade Administration has published in the Federal Register final duty levels relative to its countervailing duty investigation into the import of phosphate fertilizers from Russia and Morocco. For Russia, the countervailing duty rates were set at 47.05% for product from Industrial Group Phosphorite LLC, 9.19% for Joint Stock Company Apatit and 17.20% for all others. For Morocco, the rate is 19.97% for OCP SA and for all others. There is still a determination to be made by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). ITA said that if the ITC “issues a final affirmative injury determination, we will issue a CVD order and require a cash deposit of estimated countervailing duties for entries of subject merchandise.”

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 17, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday morning starts with a report of U.S. retail sales and producer prices for January at 7:30 a.m. CST, followed by U.S. industrial production at 8:15 a.m. At 1 p.m. CST, the Federal Reserve will release minutes of the latest FOMC meeting. Traders will keep a close eye on the latest weather forecasts and any export sales that develop. Due to this week's holiday schedule, the U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory reports are moved to Thursday. Weather Bitter cold conditions will again cover the central U.S. Wednesday; however, some easing of the cold will be noted after record-breaking cold earlier this week. More ice storm conditions are likely in southeastern Texas. We'll also see snow from the Deep South north to the western Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 16, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New WTO Director General The New York Times is reporting this week that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, a Nigerian economist and former finance minister, is poised to become the first woman and first African to lead the World Trade Organization when it meets this week to consider her candidacy for director general. The appointment would remove a key obstacle to the functioning of the organization, which has been leaderless during a time of growing protectionism and global economic upheaval brought about by the pandemic. Still, the Times cautions that even with Dr. Okonjo-Iweala at the helm and the renewed support of the Biden administration, the WTO will face steep challenges surrounding its effectiveness as the world's trade arbiter. Trade negotiations, including efforts to restrain harmful subsidies such those given to the fishing industry, have dragged on without resolution. A key WTO unit that handles trade disputes, the “appellate body,” remains crippled after the Trump administration blocked appointments of new personnel. And there are deep divisions over whether rich and poor countries should receive different treatment under global rules. There is also growing consensus that the World Trade Organization has failed to police some of China's worst offenses, which many in the United States consider the biggest trade challenge today. And there is deep uncertainty about whether the organization can be overhauled to address those shortcomings. The Trump administration spent the last four years mostly criticizing or ignoring the WTO, ultimately weakening it by implementing its most prominent trade policies outside of its boundaries. Rather than work with the organization, President Trump took on trading partners like China and the European Union one-on-one. Trading partners argued that the Trump policies contravened WTO rules. President Joe Biden is likely to take a very different approach, the Times says. He criticized Trump for alienating allies and weakening the multilateral system and is expected to make the United States a more active player in international groups including the WTO. That includes supporting the organization's new leadership. On Feb. 5, the Biden administration announced it would support Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, reversing efforts by the Trump administration to block her candidacy. The former director general, Roberto Azevedo, announced last May that he would leave the job a year early and departed in August. While the vast majority of the organization's members supported Dr. Okonjo-Iweala to replace him, Trump administration officials, particularly the former U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, did not. “The United States stands ready to engage in the next phase of the WTO process for reaching a consensus decision on the WTO director general,” the Office of the United States Trade Representative said earlier this month. “The Biden administration looks forward to working with a new WTO director general to find paths forward to achieve necessary substantive and procedural reform of the WTO.” Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, 66, is a development economist who spent 25 years working at the World Bank, including as managing director, and served two terms as Nigeria's finance minister, as well as the country's foreign affairs minister. A U.S. citizen who earned her doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she serves on the boards of Twitter and Standard Chartered and is an adviser to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Until recently she served on the board of GAVI, an international organization that distributes vaccines to poor countries. In her first stint as finance minister, she led negotiations that resulted in most of Nigeria's external debt being wiped out. Later, as coordinating minister of the economy in Nigeria — a powerful position created for her that has never been held before or since — many ministers took directives from her, the Times said. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has said that her earliest priorities will be ensuring the free flow of vaccines, medicines and medical supplies to help deal with the pandemic and aid the global economic recovery. She has vowed to push for new trade agreements on fisheries and the e-commerce industry, and called for finding “solutions to the stalemate over dispute settlement.” She also said she would prioritize updating trade rules, encouraging member transparency. Following Dr. Okonjo-Iweala's appointment, one of the most pressing issues for the World Trade Organization will most likely be the paralysis of its system for settling trade disputes. The appellate body, a part of the organization that considers appeals by countries to WTO decisions on trade disputes, has been shuttered for over a year, after the Trump administration blocked new appointments to the panel that hears those arguments. While the Biden administration is unlikely to be as critical or confrontational as the Trump administration was about the issues plaguing the WTO, some Democrats share concerns about the organization's shortcomings, including whether the appellate body has unfairly constrained U.S. trade policy. And many officials in the Biden administration recognize the World Trade Organization has only limited power to push China to make economic reforms. So, we will see. Trade policy, along with new disputes likely to reach the WTO, are expected to continue to be among the new administration's most difficult challenges as it attempts to strengthen lagging U.S. economic sectors, especially those facing new technologies — along with those facing increasing competition for growing global food markets. These are trends producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 16, 2021 |


Taiwan to Hold Referendum On US Pork Produced With Ractopamine Public outrage regarding Taiwan's decision to allow imports of U.S. pork containing feed additive ractopamine has triggered a referendum on the issue to be held within the next six months. Some also believe it could harm prospects for President Tsai Ing-wen's independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party in the local government elections next year. The China-friendly Kuomintang opposition party has led the effort against U.S. pork and hopes to capitalize on a coinciding drop in approval ratings for Tsai. The decision to allow pork from the U.S. produced with ractopamine was aimed at smoothing the way for free trade talks with the U.S. that have been paused since 2016.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 16, 2021 |


ITC Rules Blueberry Imports Not Causing Serious Injury To Domestic Producers The U.S. International Trade Commission ruled in a unanimous decision that blueberry imports “are not being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or threat of serious injury, to the domestic industry.” Chair Jason Kearns, Vice Chair Randolph Stayin, and Commissioners David Johanson, Rhonda Schmidtlein, and Amy Karpel voted in the negative, the agency said. The ruling in the Section 201 safeguard investigation ends the possibility the U.S. government will impose antidumping or anti-subsidy imposed by the U.S. Commerce Department. “We believed this data and testimony made a compelling case that safeguard measures were critical to the survival of our domestic farmers, and we are disappointed by the Commission's decision,” The American Blueberry Alliance said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 16, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets After a day off for Presidents Day, trading in U.S. grain futures resumes Monday at 7 p.m. CST and traders will be examining the latest weather forecasts. Tuesday morning, traders will pause at 8 a.m. CST to see if USDA has a new export sale announcement. USDA's weekly report of grain inspections is set for 10 a.m., followed by the monthly soybean crush estimates from the National Oilseed Processors Association later Tuesday morning. USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry outlook is due out at 11 a.m. CST. Weather Harsh Arctic cold will again cover much of the interior U.S. Tuesday. Temperatures continue well below normal. Significant stress and hazardous conditions for safety, travel and livestock remain in place. Snow forming in the western U.S. will move into the central states during midweek with additional winter storm issues.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday February 15, 2021 |


Farm Futures Survey Shows Farmers Planting More Corn in 2021 A new survey from Farm Futures shows that U.S. corn producers will increase their acreage by 4.1 percent compared to last year. The projected total is 94.7 million acres of corn this year. If farmers reach that number, that will put 2021 corn acreage at its third-highest amount over the past 75 years, trailing only 2012 at 97.3 million acres and 2013’s 95.4 million. A conservative trendline yield estimate of 177.4 bushels per acre would put corn production at 15.3 billion bushels. That would top the record of 15.1 million bushels harvested in 2016, which was the highest U.S. corn output ever recorded. While the January 2021 survey shows farmers favoring more corn planting this spring, planting intentions for both corn and soybeans are higher than 2020 levels. Plus, a good number of farmers plan to stick with their normal crop rotation. The Farm Futures survey shows farmers will increase soybean acres by 1.4 million, to 84.5 million. Uncertainty remains as farmers look ahead, ranging from dry South American weather forecasts to Chinese demand and pandemic-induced volatility. The survey says farmers are betting on a post-COVID recovery that boosts ethanol output and rising global export demand. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Bureau Disappointed in Blueberry Ruling The U.S. International Trade Commission says that fresh, chilled, or frozen blueberries are not being imported into the U.S. at a fast enough rate to cause injury to domestic producers. “As a result of today’s vote, the investigation will end, and the Commission won’t recommend a remedy to the President,” the USITC says in a release. The decision is a win for blueberry exporters that target the U.S., such as Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Canada. The American Farm Bureau says the ITC failed to recognize the damage that certain imports are doing to American farmers. “Seasonal fruit and vegetable farmers face unfair competition from foreign growers, and today’s decision demonstrates that much work still needs to be done to address international trade imbalances,” says AFB President Zippy Duvall. “Importing blueberries during the U.S. harvest season leads to lower prices for domestic growers, who are price-takers and not price-makers. They need time to adjust their operations to increased import levels.” The Farm Bureau says it will continue to work with the USDA, U.S. Trade Representative, and the Department of Commerce to find meaningful assistance for America’s domestic blueberry industry and make sure U.S. farmers get a fair price for the food they grow. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Cotton Farmers Will Plant Fewer Cotton Acres in 2021 U.S. cotton producers will plant 11.5 million acres this year, down over five percent from last year. Those figures come from the National Cotton Council’s 40th Annual Early Season Planting Intentions Survey. Upland cotton planting intentions are for 11.3 million acres, down 4.9 percent from 2020, while extra-long staple intentions of 161,000 acres represent a 21 percent decline. The detailed survey results were announced during the 2021 National Cotton Council’s Annual Meeting Virtual Live-Stream Event. “Planted acreage is just one of the factors that will determine supplies of cotton and cottonseed,” says Dr. Jody Campiche (Kam-PEE-chee), the NCC Vice President of Economics and Policy Analysis. “Ultimately, weather, insect pressures, and agronomic conditions will play a significant role in determining the crop size.” She also says that with abandonment assumed at 13.8 percent for the U.S., Cotton Belt harvested area totals 11.2 million acres. Using an average U.S. yield per harvested acre of 848 pounds generates a crop of 19.8 million bales. “History shows that U.S. farmers respond to relative prices when making planting decisions,” Campiche says. “Relative to the average futures prices during the first quarter of 2020, prices of all commodities were trading higher. For the 2021 crop year, corn, soybeans, wheat, and sorghum will provide more competition for cotton acres.” ************************************************************************************ Brazil Harvest Delays Mean More Opportunity for U.S Exports Brazil, the world’s number one soybean producer, is experiencing delays in its early soybean harvest. Yahoo Finance says that’s causing some of the biggest buyers like China to rely on rival exporters like the U.S. for a longer period than usual in early 2021. Continuing demand for American soybeans is speeding up the historic lowering of U.S. oilseeds. In turn, that may drive up soybean prices at a time of rising food inflation as countries keep tighter control of their supplies because of COVID-19. Brazil typically will harvest its soybeans in the first three months of the year, which slows demand for U.S. soybeans. However, that process was delayed by a drought last year that slowed planting progress and excessive rainfall at harvest. Brazil’s soybean shipments in January were 38 times lower than the year before at 49,500 tons, an amount that wouldn’t fill a single shipping vessel. At the same time, the U.S. inspected approximately 8.9 million tons for shipment in the same month, the highest number on record for January. Brazil’s supplies will likely normalize by March, but that could mean trouble at Brazilian ports. March and April soybeans may wind up competing with sugar exports for a finite amount of loading capacity. ********************************************************************************************** Economist Says Livestock Producers Need Insurance American livestock producers need the equivalent of crop insurance. The Hagstrom Report says American Farm Bureau Chief Economist John Newton made that statement in front of the recent Crop Insurance and Reinsurance Bureau Meeting. Newton says that in the 2023 Farm Bill, we will need “careful consideration as to how we are reaching the livestock sector with crop insurance-like policies.” Newton says there are ways the farm bill can written to help get crop insurance money more widely utilized. With the increasing frequency of bad weather, Newton says the farm bill can also be used to develop policies to address situations like the derecho windstorm in Iowa as well as hurricanes and after-harvest disasters. He also told attendees that dairy revenue policies have become a top ten crop insurance product because the crop insurance industry is very efficient in delivering those policies. Adequate labor, immigration reform, the Renewable Fuel Standard, possible changes to the Clean Water Rule that’s also known as Waters of the United States, regulatory reform, and the application of swampbuster rules are all Farm Bureau priorities. *********************************************************************************************** The Pace of U.S. Soybean Crush Stays High in January U.S. soybean processing plants likely had their third-largest monthly crush on record in January. Reuters says it’s also the largest-ever crush for the first month of the year. Industry analysts gave those predictions ahead of the National Oilseed Processors Association report due this week. NOPA members handle about 95 percent of all soybeans processed in the U.S. An average of nine analysts estimates combined to show processors crushed about 183.087 million bushels of soybeans last month. If that’s realized, it wouldn’t be much different than the 183.15 million bushels crushed in December and 3.5 percent higher than January of last year, when NOPA members processed 176.94 million bushels. Daily crushing rates over the past four months have been at historic highs, averaging roughly six million bushels a day. U.S. soybean supplies are forecast to shrink dramatically ahead of the next harvest. The USDA is projecting the tightest season-ending stocks in seven years and the tightest stocks-to-use ratio in history.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 12, 2021 |


Ag Credit Survey: Farm Economy Rebounds Sharply The agriculture economy rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to the latest Ag Credit Survey from the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. The average price of grains increased more than 20 percent from the previous quarter and reached six-year highs in December. Livestock prices, while still less than a year ago, also improved from lows reached earlier in the year. Government payments provided broad support through the year, and, together with recent price increases, the near-term outlook for the farm sector improved dramatically. The survey represents conditions in the Federal Reserve’s Tenth District, including Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming. A majority of bankers in the District indicated that farm income was higher than a year ago for the first time in eight years, boosting liquidity and loan repayment capacity and providing renewed support for farm real estate. Overall, agricultural conditions in the first quarter of 2021 in the Kansas City Fed region were poised to remain strong for the first time since 2013. ************************************************************************************ AFBF Provides Analysis on First Year of Phase One Agreement Another analysis of the Phase One Agreement shows China is behind on its commitments to U.S. agriculture. A Market Intel analysis by the American Farm Bureau Federation finds total exports of agricultural products covered under the agreement reached approximately $27.2 billion in 2020, an increase of $6.5 billion over 2017 levels. However, the export target of $33.4 billion was missed by over $6 billion. Despite missing the target for the 60 percent increase over 2017 levels, some specific products had banner years, including pork, poultry, beef, corn and soybeans. Farm Bureau economists say the missed target in 2020 also has implications for 2021, given that the Phase One Agreement is a two-year commitment. With 2020 exports of $27.2 billion to reach the two-year, $73 billion commitment, U.S. agricultural exports to China in 2021 will need to reach about $45.8 billion. This would be equivalent to a nearly 69 percent increase in exports over 2020 levels and a 120 percent increase over 2017. ************************************************************************************ Governor’s Biofuels Coalition Asks President Biden to Support Biofuels Sector The Governors' Biofuels Coalition is calling on President Joe Biden to ensure the future of the biofuels sector. The coalition includes governors from 22 states throughout the U.S., including Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, who led this week's action in a letter to President Biden. Walz states, "the once flourishing industry is now in jeopardy, threatened by trade wars, a litigious petroleum industry, and shrinking demand caused by the pandemic.” The letter noted that technological advances will significantly benefit the nation overall, but could have a devastating impact on the ethanol industry. The governor proposed two administrative actions to ease that transition, including an executive order banning the use of aromatics in gasoline, and adopting new Renewable Fuel Standard regulations. The letter says banning aromatics use would allow for the substitution of cleaner octane additives for aromatics, expanding the market for ethanol. Regarding the RFS, Walz cautioned that its regulations, particularly the waiver provision, have been manipulated and distorted “to keep the RFS from meeting its full potential.” ************************************************************************************ RFA Releases 2020 Reports on Ethanol, Distillers Grains Exports The Renewable Fuels Association this week released two reports summarizing 2020 U.S. ethanol and distillers grains export and import data. The reports show exports continue to be a major demand driver, as they approached $5 billion in 2020. The export/import trade summary provides data on U.S. ethanol exports, highlighting the fact that more than 1.3 billion gallons, ten percent of the ethanol produced in the U.S., were exported in 2020. While this is nine percent lower than 2019, it remains the fourth largest export volume in history. This ethanol, valued at $2.3 billion, was shipped to 90 countries on six continents. Canada was the top export destination, taking in nearly a quarter of U.S. ethanol exports, followed by Brazil and India. The second report covers U.S. exports of distillers grains, which totaled 10.9 million metric tons in 2020, a slight improvement on 2019 and the seventh straight year exceeding ten million metric tons. U.S. distillers grains exports had an aggregate value of $2.33 billion in 2020, the fifth-highest on record. ************************************************************************************ AEM Releases January Sales Report Farm tractor and combine unit sales start the year continuing growth in both the U.S. and Canada, according to the latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. AEM reports U.S. total farm tractor sales rose 24.7 percent in January compared to 2020, while U.S. combine sales grew a significant 76.8 percent. U.S. unit sales grew across all segments, with the biggest gains continuing in the small sub-40 horsepower segment, gaining 32.9 percent. Sales of 100-plus horsepower tractors were up 1.2 percent in January. For Canada, January monthly tractor sales also grew across all segments, with four-wheel-drive units leading the way for the second month in a row, up 118.2 percent. Total farm tractor sales up, as a result, 39 percent for January 2021 while combines delivered 52.2 percent more units. AEM’s Curt Blades commented, “While smaller units continue to lead the way, improved commodity prices and market conditions are leading to further gains in harvesters and bigger row crop units.” ************************************************************************************ COVID-19 Found in a Cougar at a Wild Animal Exhibitor in Texas The Department of Agriculture this week confirmed COVID-19 in a cougar at a wild animal exhibit in Texas. A tiger from the same facility was also confirmed positive for COVID-19. USDA says samples from several animals at the facility were taken after showing clinical signs, including coughing and wheezing. The animals are expected to fully recover. USDA suspects that the large cats acquired the infection from a person working as a team member or volunteer who was positive for COVID-19. Infections have been reported in a small number of animals worldwide, mostly in animals that had close contact with a person with COVID-19. USDA states, “We are still learning about SARS-CoV-2 in animals, but there is currently no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus to people.” However, it is important for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 to avoid contact with pets and other animals to protect them from possible infection.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 12, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fed Chair Boosts Emphasis on Jobs The New York Times is reporting this week that although some prominent economists fret that the government might overdo its pandemic response and prompt prices to shoot higher, the nation's top inflation fighter disagrees — and believes that policymakers should stay focused on restoring full employment. “Given the number of people who have lost their jobs and the likelihood that some will struggle to find work in the post-pandemic economy, achieving and sustaining maximum employment will require more than supportive monetary policy,” Jerome Powell, the chair of the Federal Reserve, said in speech to the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday. “It will require a society-wide commitment,” he emphasized. Powell called policies that would bring the coronavirus pandemic to an end as soon as possible “paramount” and said both workers and businesses that had been disrupted by the crisis “are likely to need continued support.” Unemployment remains sharply elevated at 6.3%, up from 3.5% before the pandemic — but it “jumps to about 10% when adjusted for misclassified job statuses and recent dropouts from the work force,” Powell said. The pain has also been uneven. Employment has dropped just 4% for workers earning high wages but “a staggering 17%” for the bottom quartile of earners, Powell pointed out. Separately, he noted that “inflation has been much lower and more stable over the past three decades than in earlier times,” and later added that he did not expect it to accelerate in a sustained way coming out of the pandemic. Economists have often treated high employment and low inflation as conflicting goals, the Times says. Policies that foster strong demand and pull workers back into the labor market can push up wages as businesses compete for talent, prompting them to raise prices both because they need to pass along their rising costs and because eager consumers will accept such increases — at least in theory. But the arithmetic has shifted in recent decades, as annual inflation remained stuck below the Fed's 2% goal even during long periods of very low joblessness. President Biden and top Democrats are moving quickly to try to approve a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package. But some economists, including former Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers, have warned that the large package could touch off long-dormant price increases. Many Republican lawmakers have also cited that risk as a reason to oppose the package. Powell did not weigh in on the package specifically, but he did seem to rebut many of those concerns. He and his colleagues have been unusually vocal in pushing for more fiscal support for the economy throughout the coronavirus era with some saying the bigger risk is doing too little rather than doing too much. “I'm reluctant to get into what is clearly a very active debate,” Powell said when asked specifically about fiscal policy. But he added that “it is the essential tool for this situation.” The Fed's own policies are set to stimulate growth, the Times says. The central bank cut interest rates to near zero in March and has been buying about $120 billion in government-backed bonds per month. It aims to keep borrowing cheap and credit flowing to companies and households. Low rates are likely to stay for a “long time.” Powell and his colleagues said last year that they would worry only about too little employment, not about too much, and would shoot for periods of slightly higher inflation, aiming to average 2 percent over time. Officials have been clear that they plan to look past a pop in inflation that is expected to occur this year without lifting borrowing costs to cool off the economy. Inflation is measured by taking the cost of a basket of consumer goods and services and comparing it to the cost of the same products a year earlier. Prices that dropped sharply in some categories at the start of the pandemic — think plane tickets, hotel stays and work clothes — are returning to more normal levels. That means the measure will spike mechanically in relation to the depressed 2020 months. The Times insists that such a surge would not necessarily lead to “ever-rising prices.” While prices have shot up temporarily in recent decades, the report says that inflation has largely been benign and even a little bit too low for comfort across much of the developed world. “There's quite a lot of savings on people's balance sheets, there is monetary policy, there is fiscal policy — you could see strong spending growth, and there could be some upward pressure on prices there,” Powell said Wednesday. “Again though, my expectation would be that that will be neither large nor sustained.” Fed officials have gone so far as to suggest that if a large fiscal stimulus causes prices to rise sooner rather than later, that would be a welcome development. Central bankers can lift interest rates to control price increases, but it is less clear that they have the tools to reinvigorate price gains on their own. Charles Evans, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, said during a speech last week, “It will be critical for monetary policymakers to look through temporary price increases and not even think about thinking about adjusting policy until the economic criteria we have laid out have been realized.” So, we will see. Inflation is still an enormous worry, and a strong political motivator — and will continue to be prominently debated. Still, the trends in coronavirus cases likely will be the most prominent policy concern and those debates should be watched closely by producers over the coming months, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 12, 2021 |


Simmons Disappears From List of Firms Ineligible To Export To China The Simmons Foods plant in Gentry, Arkansas, is no longer listed as being ineligible to export product to China, with no explanation offered by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for the sudden shift. Earlier this week, FSIS posted a notice that export requirements for China had changed, listing the change as being the Arkansas plant as the third company in the state ineligible to export to China, effective February 7. But a notation posted Wednesday (February 10), simply removed the Simmons plant from the list. Typically, when a company is declared in ineligible to export to a country and then becomes eligible again, there is still a period of time when shipments from the firm are not allowed, but that is not the case with Simmons. Contacts indicate this could be a sign that the initial announcement of export ineligibility was in error. It is not clear how much poultry/products Simmons had been exporting to China as contacts have indicated they believe the firm had not made any significant shipments to the country.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 12, 2021 |


EPA Pick Regan Stresses He Will Look At All Options On Policies North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality chief Michael Regan repeatedly assured lawmakers during his confirmation hearing last week that he would “look at all options” and be inclusive as he pursues decisions at the agency. In response to written questions, he has continued to deploy that line of response. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, pressed Regan during the hearing on biofuels issues and again in written questions submitted after the session. Regarding the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) beyond 2022 when the current EPA authority on the program expires, Regan said he would consult with legal and policy teams to understand options for the agency relative to setting RFS levels beyond 2022. Ernst asked if Regan will try to grow the use of advanced biofuels like biomass-based biodiesel, Regan said, "I will confer with my legal and policy team to understand all of the options before me regarding the RFS program, and in this specific case, how to set the RFS volume requirements beyond 2022.” Regan was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on a 14-to-six vote, with Ernst among those voting against the nomination. He is expected to win approval by the full Senate, but a vote on his nomination has not yet been set. As for the RFS beyond 2022, expectations are Congress may well weigh in on the matter just as they did to create the RFS in 2005 and when they updated mandates in 2007.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday February 12, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Other than the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. CST, there are no official reports scheduled for Friday, the start of a three-day weekend as markets are closed Monday for Presidents Day. Traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and watching for export sales, even while China celebrates a new year. Friday's markets close at their normal times. Weather Bitter cold Arctic air will spread through the northern and central U.S. Friday. This harsh cold brings safety hazards, livestock stress and disruptions to transportation. Precipitation is in store in the Southeast as rain and in the Northwest as snow. The system producing snow in the Northwest crosses into the Plains and Midwest during the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 11, 2021 |


Democrats Seek Climate Change Considerations in Transportation Policy A group of Congressional Democrats urges the Transportation Department to prioritize consideration of climate change in transportation policy. In a request to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, the group says, “we cannot make progress toward emissions reductions without a program to measure and report on performance.” Led by Senator Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, and Representative Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat, the coalition asked Buttigieg to reinstate the greenhouse gas measure for tailpipe emissions. The Trump administration repealed the rule in 2018. The greenhouse gas measure would have required state and local officials to provide consistent information on the percent change in tailpipe carbon dioxide emissions from the reference year 2017. Officials were then required to set performance-based targets and regionally appropriate solutions to achieve those targets. Through his first steps on climate change, the lawmakers also asked Buttigieg to improve the methods and procedures for accounting for the climate and environmental justice impacts of transportation decisions and investments. ************************************************************************************ COVID-19 Assistance Package Includes Provisions from Stabenow The COVID-19 Assistance Package includes provisions supported by Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow. Stabenow says, “We need to take bold action to get farmers, families, and rural communities the help they need to weather this crisis and come out stronger on the other end.” The Michigan Democrat worked with House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott and House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Bobby Scott to secure the provisions in the bill. Those provisions provide additional food assistance for those facing hunger by continuing a 15 percent boost in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and allows the Secretary of Agriculture to address supply chain issues facing the food and agriculture sector. The Senate Ag Chair says the bill also supports farmers of color and invests in rural hospitals, along with expanding vaccine distribution in rural communities. The legislation would help rural hospitals make up for high costs and lost revenue, and increases telehealth capabilities. ************************************************************************************ Peterson Institute: China Phase One Deal Falls Short The Peterson Institute calls the China Phase One agreement a “flop” in a recent analysis. The analysis says, “Much of the deal was a failure.” Citing China’s pledge to buy $200 billion more of U.S. goods and services over two years, evidence from the deal’s first year shows China was never on pace to meet that commitment. During the trade war, U.S. agricultural exports to China were cut in half in 2018, with 2019 levels remaining nearly 30 percent lower than in 2017. Overall, China did ramp up farm purchases in 2020 and by September was back on pace to reattain 2017 levels. However, the analysis says U.S. agricultural exports ended up both 18 percent short of the 2020 legal commitment and considerably lower than the Trump administration’s political aspirations. Without the U.S.-China trade war, exports to China would have ended up roughly 19 percent higher than actual 2020 levels, according to the analysis. ************************************************************************************ Senate EPW Committee Send EPA Administrator Nomination to Full Senate The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee this week advanced the nomination of Michael Regan as Environmental Protection Agency Administrator to the full Senate. Committee Chairman Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, says a bipartisan majority of Committee members voted to move forward on the confirmation by a recorded vote of 14 to 6. Regan’s nomination now heads to the Senate floor for a full vote. Carper says of Regan, “I’m confident he will bring his sterling record of public service to lead the EPA with integrity and compassion.” Senator Shelley Moore Capito, the top Republican on the Panel from West Virginia, was one of the four voting against the nomination. While complimenting Regan’s professionalism and accomplishments, Capito says, “I remain deeply concerned about unaccountable climate czars in the White House and their control over EPA and environmental policy.” Republicans on the committee also questioned Regan’s stance on the Keystone XL Pipeline, and the Waters of the U.S. rule. ************************************************************************************ USDA Reminds Producers of ARC, PLC, Deadline Agricultural producers who have not yet enrolled in the Agriculture Risk Coverage or Price Loss Coverage programs for 2021 must do so by March 15. Producers who have not yet signed a 2021 enrollment contract or who want to make an election change should contact their local USDA Farm Service Agency office to make an appointment. Program enrollment for 2021 is required to participate in the programs, but elections for the 2021 crop year are optional and otherwise remain the same as elections made for 2020. FSA Acting Administrator Steve Peterson says, “please do not wait to start the enrollment process.” ARC and PLC are considered vital economic safety nets for most American farms. Although more than one million contracts have been completed to date, this represents less than 59 percent of the more than 1.7 million contracts anticipated by the Agency. By enrolling soon, producers can beat the rush as the deadline nears. ************************************************************************************ National Sorghum Producers Announces Virtual Industry Forum National Sorghum Producers will host a virtual industry forum on March first. The virtual forum will honor 2020 Sorghum Yield Contest winners and address issues and advancements in the industry. The event will take place in advance of Commodity Classic where it is typically held in person, but due to COVID-19 restrictions, all events will take place virtually this year. NSP CEO Tim Lust says, “The beauty of having a virtual event is we are able to open this forum to the entire industry and guests through an efficient, informative and entertaining program.” The event will feature a keynote with insights from Washington, D.C. Reece Cannady, U.S. Grains Council manager for global trade, and Sorghum Checkoff director Florentino Lopez will overview opportunities relating to current markets and sorghum demand. This will be followed by updates from Sorghum Checkoff Agronomy Director Brent Bean on the top producer requested advancement in sorghum seed technology, improved grass control with herbicide-tolerant sorghum. Producers can register for the event at SorghumGrowers.com/yield2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 11, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Tough Fight to Save Manufacturing Bloomberg is reporting this week that President Biden is beginning to approach the challenge of rebuilding the nation's manufacturing jobs—that are some 582,000 below pre-pandemic level. The report says Biden, like several predecessors, began by “promising to restore hope to a blue-collar middle class battered by decades of relentless job losses from automation and foreign competition.” But it warns that the realities of trying to stoke U.S. manufacturing employment in the wake of an economic crisis may risk “endangering his plans.” After a period of recovery last year, U.S. factory payrolls stagnated in recent months, then went into reverse in January. The country is on course to repeat a pattern seen in every recession since manufacturing jobs peaked in June 1979: a structural step-down in employment even amid a sustained expansion in output. As President Biden starts to lay out plans for the long-term economic rebuilding program designed as a follow-on to his $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, “the business calculus of American manufacturing looms as a headwind,” Bloomberg thinks. Bloomberg then presents an “analysis” of plant-closure notifications sent by companies to state officials around the country that shows that fallout from the pandemic is far from over. Employers, who have already cut a net 582,000 factory jobs compared with the pre-COVID-19 level, aim to emerge leaner and meaner from the crisis. For example, in Ferndale, Washington, Mayor Greg Hansen watched Alcoa, the biggest U.S. aluminum producer, close a smelter last year that operated for more than half a century. The decision put 700 workers, the equivalent of 5% of the town's residents, out of work without any obvious pathway to another job. In nearby Bellingham, Safran Cabin, which makes overhead baggage compartments and ceiling panels for Boeing airplanes and Mitsubishi regional jets, will be shutting its local plant by year-end, laying off another 250. That left Hansen confronting the same problem plaguing small American factory towns for decades. “We need to try to figure out what do we do now and make sure we have good blue-collar jobs” for those affected, Hansen says. “That's a much bigger, more difficult puzzle to figure out.” Bloomberg notes that even companies like Caterpillar Inc., one of the world's largest machinery makers, are trying to plan for what remains an uncertain recovery. Wall Street analysts don't expect its sales to return to pre-pandemic levels until at least 2025. In a move intended to boost morale, the company has reinstated employees' annual salary increases and kept health care premiums unchanged for at least some employees for the first time in years. But its 2020 annual government filing will likely show employment dropped for a second straight year. How much U.S. industrial capacity will end up being cut is unclear, Bloomberg says. Industrial production in December was 3.6% lower than a year earlier, with capacity usage 5.3 percentage points below its 1972-2019 average. More recent data from purchasing-manager surveys show orders for manufactured goods expanding at the start of 2021. But there are bigger questions over the return of jobs--and the political reverberations that would accompany a failure to bring them back in important swing states like Michigan and Pennsylvania. United Steelworkers President Tom Conway is already worried about a jobless recovery. “That's what happened in 2009,” Conway says. “We'll see productivity take a big pop with no significant increase in the workforce” and remaining employees “working 12-to-16-hour days for months on end,” he fears. Biden and his team are well aware of the danger, Bloomberg says. Even as the president woos business support for his relief plan – showcased in an Oval Office meeting Tuesday with chief executives – he's planning a bigger role for the government in this recovery, with money for both research and demand creation, via infrastructure programs, procurement policies, reshoring initiatives and long-term priorities including climate change. Biden is due to visit the industrial state of Wisconsin next week. That's in the run-up to a congressional address in which he is expected to lay out his “build back better” plan, including components to create more manufacturing jobs that advisers hope will spark some bipartisan action. “In the area of manufacturing and infrastructure – and they are related – there could be and should be some bipartisan interest,” Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein said in an interview. “There are lots of states that are red, blue and purple that would very much be interested in signing on to a jobs agenda with high-value-added manufacturing jobs.” U.S. manufacturing still faces plenty of long-term challenges. A forthcoming study of Indiana by the Brookings Institution and the American Enterprise Institute found that the most manufacturing-intensive U.S. state was plagued by declines in productivity and investment and a rotation from production jobs to warehousing ones. Between 2001 and 2019, Indiana lost 72,000 manufacturing jobs, the report found, a number that “puts the last year in perspective:” there were 36,000 fewer factory workers in Indiana in December than just one year before. So, we will see. The drivers of competitive success are highly complex and often arise from better technologies. How well those mesh with the needs of the labor force are difficult to anticipate, and clearly will pose large challenges for the new Biden team—and will lead to intense debates regarding new policies that producers should watch closely as they emerge, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 11, 2021 |


Restaurants, Small Businesses Get Fresh Relief In Draft Package The House package includes $7.5 billion in additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) of forgivable loans for small businesses. The House Small Business Committee released its draft language for its elements of President Biden's COVID-19 relief plan. The PPP only just re-opened last month, thanks to fresh funding approved in the December aid bill. The House Small Business Committee will vote on the text today. The new proposal creates a $25 billion program for restaurants and other food and drinking establishments. A fifth of the funding will be set aside for the smallest firms — those with 2019 revenue of less than $500,000. The grants, available in amounts as large as $10 million per entity, may be used for expenses including payroll, mortgage, rent and utilities. The new initiative would be welcome news in the hospitality industry, which has been among the hardest hit during the pandemic crisis.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 11, 2021 |


GOP's Thompson Criticizes Sudden Partisanship on House Ag Panel House Ag Committee Ranking Member GT Thompson, R-Pa., Wednesday asked the Democrats why they turned partisan in latest ag aid measure. “It is with a measure of regret that we begin our tenure together marking up this reconciliation bill,” Thompson said. “The members of the Ag Committee have long prided ourselves on our bipartisanship.” While the two sides have been work together, Thompson expressed disappointment at the actions being pursued on the COVID-19 aid plan. “Rather than spending time to work with Republicans, the Democratic leadership in the House and Senate are abusing the reconciliation process to jam through a very narrow, partisan agenda with the barest of majorities,” Thompson said. “Unfortunately, this flawed approach is now being adopted by this Committee. What we are marking up today was written behind closed doors; Republicans were cut out of the process. The first time we saw this $16 billion proposal was less than 48 hours ago. “ Thompson also was critical of the panel not holding any hearings on the COVID response efforts that were deployed by USDA. “We cannot fully account for what was spent and whether it was helpful,” he stated. “What's worse, we don't know what the new needs are and if we're meeting them with this package today.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday February 11, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets At 7:30 a.m. CST we will have initial jobless claims as well as continuing jobless claims reported. We will also be looking for any new export sales announcements at 8 a.m. CST and any updates on South American weather. Weather Thursday brings more effect of a strong Arctic cold wave to most primary crop areas. Ice and snow are in store from the southern Plains through the Delta and southeastern Midwest. A swath of snow will develop in the northern Plains. Bitter cold wind chills will spread across the northern Plains and northern Midwest. Meanwhile, rain will cover much of the western Gulf Coast and Deep South. This combination is stressful to livestock and brings safety hazards to transportation and travel.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 10, 2021 |


USDA Releases Latest WASDE Report The latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report released Tuesday lowered ending stocks for corn and soybeans, while increasing expected export sales. In the report, corn exports were raised 50 million bushels, reflecting historically large purchases by China. With no other use changes, USDA lowered corn ending stocks 50 million bushels, as a result. The season-average corn price was raised ten cents to $4.30 per bushel. Meanwhile, soybean exports are projected at 2.25 billion bushels, up 20 million from last month, reflecting record marketing-year exports through January and a slow start to Brazil's export season. With soybean crush unchanged, soybean ending stocks were reduced 20 million bushels to 120 million. If realized, soybean ending stocks would be down 77 percent from 2019/20, and the lowest since 2013/14. The U.S. season-average soybean price for 2020/21 is forecast at $11.15 per bushel, unchanged from last month. And, the supply and demand outlook for wheat is largely unchanged this month. ************************************************************************************ Senators Reintroduce Justice for Black Farmers Act A group of Senate Democrats this week reintroduced the Justice for Black Farmers Act. The legislation aims to address and correct historic discrimination within the U.S. Department of Agriculture in federal farm assistance and lending. The bill was first introduced in November 2020. At the time, the Senators stated USDA discrimination "has caused Black farmers to lose millions of acres of farmland and robbed Black farmers and their families of hundreds of billions of dollars of inter-generational wealth.” The legislation will enact policies to end discrimination within USDA, protect Black farmers from losing their land, provide land grants to create a new generation of Black farmers and restore the land base that has been lost. The bill also seeks to implement systemic reforms to help family farmers across the United States. Senator Corey Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey who now holds a seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, reintroduced the legislation, along with colleagues from Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, Georgia and Vermont. ************************************************************************************ Senators Urge Biden to Withdraw Sheep Import Rule A Senator from North Dakota wants the Biden administration to withdraw a final rule on the importation of sheep and goats. Republican Kevin Cramer made the request in a letter to the Department of Agriculture this week, asking the rule be withdrawn until its impact on current market conditions can be fully evaluated. The rule, finalized on January 14, would remove brain disorder-related import restrictions on sheep, goats, and most of their products. Cramer says the existing import restrictions function as a necessary protection against the introduction of other brain disorders, such as scrapie or mad cow disease. Republican Senators Steve Daines of Montana, John Cornyn of Texas, John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, John Thune and Michael Rounds of South Dakota, and John Hoeven of North Dakota joined Cramer on the letter. The Senators state, "By allowing scrapie-positive animals and genetic materials into the United States, we risk reintroducing the very disease we have nearly eradicated." ************************************************************************************ Hemp Checkoff Survey Results Announced Hemp industry stakeholders this week announced survey results regarding industry attitudes towards a hemp checkoff program. The overall survey results show that nearly eight out of every ten farmers and processors support the checkoff program for research, promotion, and consumer education. Over six of ten farmers and processors support being assessed to fund a program. The results were announced by the National Industrial Hemp Council and The Hemp Industries Association. NIHC Chair Patrick Atagi says, “This is exciting news for our industry and exciting that there is such wide consensus in our industry to support such a program.” Funded through assessments on the produced commodity at the first point of sale, checkoff programs allow producers of commodities to pool resources for research, education, and promotion efforts to expand sales and improve production efficiencies. The survey received 270 responses and was conducted online via November 30, 2020, until December 31, 2020. ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Praises Senate Push on Biofuel Infrastructure Growth Energy Tuesday again called on the Environmental Protection Agency to reject calls to delay Renewable Fuel Standard compliance. Chris Bliley, Growth Energy's Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, participated in a virtual EPA hearing on the proposal to extend the RFS compliance deadlines for the 2019 and 2020 Renewable Volume Obligations. During his testimony, Bliley called on EPA to reject calls to delay RFS compliance and instead take immediate steps to restore integrity to the RFS and restore lost biofuel demand. Bliley stated, "The intent of the RFS is to blend more biofuels into our nation's transportation fuel supply. Period. It is not meant to have oil companies use questionable legal tactics to avoid blending biofuels and then demanding that the agency further delay compliance." EPA's proposal would extend the RFS compliance deadline for the 2019 compliance year to November 30, 2021, and extend the RFS compliance deadline for the 2020 compliance year to January 31, 2022. ************************************************************************************ NASDA Seeks Flexibility to Protect Farm Workers, Specialty Crop Industry The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture this week asked the Department of Agriculture for more flexibility in the use of Specialty Crop Block Grants. Specifically, NASDA seeks additional flexibility in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 to enhance their responses to the continued demands COVID-19 places on the industry. NASDA CEO Dr. Barb Glenn stated, "challenges impacting our food supply related to COVID-19 are still present, and continued flexibility is needed." In a letter to acting USDA Secretary Kevin Shea, Glenn outlined additional ways state agriculture departments could use the grants if given approval. Examples included implementing vaccination programs for agricultural and food workers, building COVID-19 related infrastructure and offsetting increased costs to providing safe worker housing and transportation. Since the onset of the pandemic, NASDA members have continuously worked to help food producers and workers stay safe and meet their communities' needs. Through additional and allowed flexibility in funding programs, NASDA members would be able to leverage and maximize local solutions for local recovery efforts.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 10, 2021 |


Washington Insider: The Coming Climate Change Battle Politico is reporting this week that corporate America is entering the Biden era with bold public pledges to fight climate change. But as Democrats seek to hold businesses to those promises, “they're facing a big battle.” Democrats are vowing to go through the Securities and Exchange Commission to impose sweeping financial disclosure rules on climate risk that would force thousands of businesses including banks, manufacturers and energy producers to divulge information to investors. Lenders are set to get even more scrutiny from their own regulators like the Federal Reserve, including potential stress tests to measure their resiliency to rising sea levels and extreme weather. Politico says the coming “backlash” is just beginning. The report says that BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, who has been hailed by some as a corporate leader in fighting climate change, is putting his weight behind a call for companies to abide by a voluntary global standard and “is warning against the potential shortfalls of government intervention.” Also, Republican lawmakers are emerging as allies to businesses resistant to the looming transparency rules. “This is about solving a societal problem that does not align simply with the SEC's mission,” said Rep. Patrick McHenry of North Carolina, the top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee. “I'd like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to stick to what they do and then for us in the elected class to make these large-scale societal decisions.” At the heart of the clash is a broader argument about how much control the government should have over business, a debate that will get more heated as the Biden administration moves to impose stricter regulations on the economy after four years of rollbacks by former President Donald Trump. The reluctance to embrace a large government role in climate policy is echoed by business groups in Washington, D.C., that are calling for flexible disclosure requirements. The campaign by Democrats is expected to trigger a lobbying blitz as companies try to shape regulations. An increasing number of corporations are responding to the pressure by releasing more climate data voluntarily, though industry representatives say companies are split on the issue. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute (API), two of the biggest business associations, are warning against rigid rules which could expose companies to legal trouble if they don't accurately report information. The API said it supports greater transparency but that rules "must be workable for different industries, support access to capital for all sectors and allow for companies' reporting to demonstrate the multiple pathways toward managing climate opportunities and risks." The Chamber argues that the regulations should allow for companies and their investors to determine the most relevant information to release. "There are people who are going to be reluctant to have any disclosure obligations imposed on public companies sort of broadly," said former SEC Chair Mary Schapiro, who is now a key player in crafting international climate reporting standards and supports mandatory disclosure. Republican officials are signaling that they will fight the effort, giving companies a powerful set of friends. Republican SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce told POLITICO she was skeptical that climate-related requirements could meet the standard of "material" information for investors. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., who will be the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, said, "Imposing a costly and prescriptive reporting regime would discourage firms from going public, reduce access to capital and slow economic growth, which means fewer jobs and opportunities for retail investors." BlackRock's Fink argues that many publicly traded companies are on track to manage their climate risk amid growing market pressure and that the government should focus on privately held firms that are taking on more carbon-intensive businesses. “We're going to see a vast change in the public company arena worldwide,” he said last week. We're not going to need really governmental change or regulatory change.” "There is, without question, significant and systemic risk to the financial system that is created by climate change," said Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., who wrote legislation with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. that would require the SEC to develop climate disclosure rules. "Yet if you are an investor and you want to understand how much of that risk you're exposed to, you don't have any unambiguous metric that says this is what your exposure is that's done in a consistent way." The official who's expected to lead the way for Democrats is Gary Gensler, Biden's nominee to chair the SEC. Gensler “took on the banks when he was the lead regulator writing financial trading rules after the 2008 Wall Street meltdown,” Shapiro said. “The U.S. needs to be participating with the rest of the world in dealing with these issues. That's something that Gary will be quite sensitive to." While some companies will resist government intervention, others see benefits in having regulators accelerate standard reporting metrics. But industry representatives say the methods used to measure and report climate impacts are still developing and it may be a gamble to codify them into federal rules. “You have this voluntary system out there," said Dorothy Donohue, deputy general counsel at the Investment Company Institute, which counts BlackRock among its members. Once you put it in a rule, it's a whole lot harder to change," she said. "That's not to say institutions won't get there, but I think at the moment when those numbers are being disclosed, I think people take them with a large pinch of salt.” So, we will see. This is a debate that is likely to intensify sharply and which could be very important to producers — and so, one that should be watched closely as it emerges, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 10, 2021 |


Democratic Senators Unveil Pandemic Relief For Farmers Of Color Four Democratic senators — Raphael Warnock of Georgia, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico, and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow of Michigan — introduced a bill aimed at delivering direct relief to Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic farmers and other agricultural producers of color affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Warnock said the effort also is aimed at addressing what he described as “longstanding inequity in agriculture.” The Emergency Relief for Farmers of Color Act would provide $5 billion to farmers of color as part of the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package being pushed by Democrats and President Joe Biden. The bill would provide $4 billion in direct relief payments to help farmers of color pay off outstanding USDA farm loan debts and related taxes, help them respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 10, 2021 |


Senate Panel Approves Regan Nomination to Top EPA Post The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 14-to-six Tuesday to approve the nomination of Michael Regan to serve as EPA Administrator. Four Republicans — Sens. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Roger Wicker of Mississippi, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Dan Sullivan of Alaska — joining the panel's 10 Democrats in support. The six Republicans voting no — Sens. Shelly Moore Capito of West Virginia, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming, Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Boozman of Arkansas, and Joni Ernst of Iowa — indicated their vote was not so much against Regan as against the Biden administration's climate policies. “As an individual he is exactly the sort of person that I would like to see leading a federal agency but unfortunately officials in place at the White House and at the EPA have already set the agenda before he even achieves the office,” ranking member Capito said. “It is unclear whether Secretary Regan, if confirmed, would have any authority to stop the regulatory march towards the Green New Deal. Without clear commitments to oppose some policies that would economically devastate my state, I cannot support him.” It is not yet clear when his nomination will be taken up by the full Senate, but he is expected to be approved by the chamber to take the top EPA post.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday February 10, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets There has been a lot talk lately of increased inflation expectations so Wednesday's consumer price index report from the Labor Department is apt to get attention at 7:30 a.m. CST. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly report of energy inventories at 9:30 a.m., including a report on ethanol production. The U.S. Treasury Department reports on the federal budget for January at 1 p.m. CST. Traders will also pay attention to the latest weather forecasts and any news about export sales that might arise. Weather Wednesday features another day of bitter cold in the north-central U.S. At the edge of the cold wave, ice and snow will cause travel and safety hazards from the southeastern Plains through the Delta and Ohio Valley. The harsh cold pattern is indicated to remain in place through the next ten days.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 9, 2021 |


2020 Pork Exports Shatter Previous Records, December Beef Exports Outstanding U.S. pork exports reached nearly three million metric tons in 2020, topping the 2019 record by 11 percent, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Pork export value also climbed 11 percent to a record $7.71 billion. Exports set new annual records in China/Hong Kong, Central America, Vietnam and Chile, and achieved strong fourth-quarter growth in Japan and Mexico. Meanwhile, U.S. beef exports finished 2020 lower year-over-year, falling five percent in both volume at 1.25 million metric tons, and value at $7.65 billion. But beef exports finished the year with very strong momentum, with fourth-quarter volume up 4.5 percent from 2019 and posting one of the best months on record in December. Beef exports to China were record-large in 2020, and a new volume record was also achieved in Taiwan. U.S. lamb exports reached a record 20,045 metric in 2020, up 27 percent year-over-year, though export value fell nine percent to $23.8 million. ************************************************************************************ Farm Sector Profits Forecast to Decrease in 2021 The Department of Agriculture forecasts net farm income to decrease $9.8 billion, or 8.1 percent in 2021, to $11.4 billion. The decline is largely driven by less expected government assistance to producers. In inflation-adjusted 2021 dollars, net farm income is forecast to decrease $12 billion in 2021 after increasing $37.8 billion in 2020 to its highest level since 2013. Despite the decline, 2021 net farm income would be 21 percent above its 2000-19 average of $92.1 billion. After increasing a forecasted $27.3 billion in 2020, net cash farm income is forecast to decrease $7.9 billion to $128.3 billion in 2021. Net cash farm income encompasses cash receipts from farming and farm-related income, including government payments, minus cash expenses. Cash receipts are forecast to increase in 2021, but lower direct government farm payments are expected to drive most of the decline. Cash receipts for all commodities are forecast to increase $20.4 billion, or 5.5 percent, to $390.8 billion in 2021. ************************************************************************************ Democratic Lawmakers Seek End to Cuba Embargo Democrats in the Senate last week introduced a bill to end the U.S. embargo on Cuba. Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden of Oregon introduced the U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2021 to repeal sanctions on Cuba and establish normal trade relations with the island nation. Wyden stated, “To continue this outdated, harmful policy of isolation would be a failure of American leadership.” The embargo was first placed on Cuba in 1962. President Barack Obama attempted to normalize relations with Cuba, but President Donald Trump re-enforced regulations previously eased by Obama. The U.S.-Cuba Trade Act of 2021 would repeal the major statutes that codify sanctions against Cuba, including the Helms-Burton Act and the Cuban Democracy Act, as well as other provisions that affect trade, investment and travel with Cuba. It would also establish normal trade relations with the country. Senate Democrats Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Richard Durban of Illinois, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon Joined Wyden on the bill. ************************************************************************************ U.S. Ethanol Exports Surpass 1.3 Billion Gallons for 2020 Data from the Department of Agriculture shows U.S. ethanol exports for 2020 totaled 1.3 billion gallons, down 9.8 percent from 2019 and hovering around 2017 levels. However, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, "we're optimistic to see worldwide ethanol demand continue to provide U.S. producers with market opportunities." Canada took over as the top export market for U.S. ethanol, with 326.4 million gallons for the year. Growth Energy says Canada continues to be a global leader in the use of biofuels, which is expected to grow with their Clean Fuel Standard as well as provincial moves to higher biofuel blends. Brazil dropped to the second U.S. export market, at 188.8 million gallons, a 40 percent difference from 2019, due to tariff issues between the U.S. and Brazilian governments. In India, the U.S. saw a 9.1 percent increase at 189.6 million gallons. The fourth-largest export market in 2020 was South Korea, followed by the Netherlands. ************************************************************************************ United Fresh Launches 2021 Produce Industry Compensation Survey The United Fresh Produce Association Monday launched its 2021 Compensation Survey for the fresh produce industry. The data collected will be published in a report that will assist produce industry employers in understanding critical compensation benchmarks. For 2021, additions to the survey include two new positions focused on sustainability, and a series of questions related to how companies have changed their salary and benefit practices in the wake of COVID-19. The survey also will collect compensation and benefits data from produce companies for more than 30 full-time positions. The survey is open to any U.S. or Canadian-based produce employer, including grower-shippers, brokers, wholesaler-distributors, importers, exporters, and fresh-cut processors. The survey is administered every two years, and the results will be published this June in a detailed report designed to help produce companies directly compare their salaries and benefits for more than thirty full-time positions. The survey is open at www.unitedfreshsurvey.com to any U.S. or Canadian-based produce company until March 12. ************************************************************************************ Fuel Prices Continue Rise, Demand Down Slightly The national average gas price increased for the fifth consecutive week, rising 3.7 cents per gallon over the last week to $2.45. The national average price of diesel was up 3.8 cents in the last week and stands at $2.68 per gallon. However, U.S. gasoline demand fell slightly for the week ending Saturday, the second straight week of decline. Patrick DeHaan of Gas Buddy says many factors are behind the increase, but “at the foundation of the rise is the fact that the coronavirus situation continues to improve, pushing global oil demand higher as production continues to lag, pushing U.S. gas prices higher.” Until OPEC raises oil production in the months ahead, DeHaan expects the trend to continue. Crude oil prices carried their rally into the new week, as it continues to push higher as rebounding global demand brings concerns that oil production isn’t returning fast enough. Since November, crude oil prices have skyrocketed over 60 percent.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday February 9, 2021 |


Washington Insider: China Policy Evaluated Bloomberg is reporting this week that the China policy debate in Washington is often framed in terms of toughness and as a binary choice — President Joe Biden is either going to be tough or soft on China and former President Donald Trump's “Tariff Man” approach to the relationship is frequently the benchmark used, the report says. However, Bloomberg thinks that the “more clarifying question” is whether Biden and his team will craft an “intelligent” approach to China that likely will be “the most significant strategic competitor the U.S. faces.” Last weekend, President Biden told the press that he plans a “new strategy” built around U.S. allies and global rules. “I'm not going to do it the way Trump did,” he said. It's still unclear what that means in concrete terms in a world where commercial and geopolitical imperatives often clash. Allies in the European Union have their own strategic concerns yet still want an investment treaty with China to solidify economic links. Likewise, General Motors and Tesla still want to sell a lot of cars in the Asian nation. Biden's new trade policy ideas also have come amid evidence that while President Trump may have installed China fears atop the American foreign policy agenda, his own trade strategy did not deliver the economic gains promised. The pandemic's effects on the global economy put a big asterisk on any analysis. But the numbers are stark. The U.S. had 150,000 fewer manufacturing workers in January 2021 than it did in January 2017, the month President Trump took office, Bloomberg said last week. U.S. data for 2020 put the annual U.S. deficit in goods trade with China at $310.8 billion, $36 billion less than at the end of 2016. That looks good for Trump, until you see that trade just went elsewhere, Bloomberg argues. The gap in goods with Vietnam was up by more than $37 billion over the same period. The shortfal