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| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 20, 2021 |


House Democrats Ask Leadership for Extra Funds to Prevent ASF A group of House Democrats sent a letter to leadership asking for $75 million in funding for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to help prevent and prepare for a possible African Swine Fever Outbreak in the U.S. A total of seven House Democrats are concerned about an ASF outbreak in America’s swine herds. They’re asking House Leadership to include the requested funds in the next continuing resolution or supplemental appropriations package that moves through Congress. “A confirmed ASF positive sample in any U.S. state or territory would be devastating to the American pork industry and rural economy,” they wrote in the letter. “An outbreak in any part of the U.S. would restrict pork producers from being able to participate in global trade.” The representatives also point out that America’s pork producers are a crucial part of the domestic food supply chain and contribute close to seven billion dollars in global exports, which makes the additional investment in APHIS vital to the safety of America’s food supply. In July, APHIS confirmed the presence of ASF in samples collected from hogs in the Dominican Republic, raising concerns about a possible outbreak that could reach the United States. *********************************************************************************** Barge Shipping Costs Spiking After Hurricane Ida Barge freight costs for moving grains from the Midwest rose sharply due to the continuing logistical problems over two weeks after Hurricane Ida hit the Delta Region. As grain handlers are scrambling to get operations going again at the Gulf of Mexico, China booked four to six bulk cargoes of soybeans from Brazil for shipping in October and November, which is the peak of the U.S. export period. That agreement between China and Brazil is fueling industry concerns that terminal capacity at the Gulf will be limited into the next month. Cash grain traders tell Reuters that Gulf shipping problems are causing the cost for barge freight to rise along Midwest rivers. Unloading barges arriving at the Gulf is being delayed, which is creating a shortage of empty barges needed upriver as corn and soybean harvest revs up in the Midwest. Adding to the sense of urgency is the fact that crops are maturing faster than normal in key states like Minnesota, Iowa, and Illinois. Southern states are also much farther along in their harvest than northern states. “You have these southern states, and you need to get all of that through the system before the really big volume comes from places like Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa,” says Mike Steenhoek (STEEN-hook), Executive Director of the Soy Transportation Coalition. *********************************************************************************** NBB Renews Request to Meet with EPA Administrator Regan The National Biodiesel Board delivered a letter to Michael Regan, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, that renewed a May 2021 request to meet with him. The NBB wants to discuss the findings from a new study called “Assessment of Health Benefits from Using Biodiesel as a Transportation Fuel.” The group points out that the study quantifies, at a community level, the public health benefits and resulting economic savings of using higher blends of biodiesel. The findings complement those of a new EPA Report that details the unequal impacts of carbon and associated emissions on socially disadvantaged communities. “We believe that our industry’s goals are consistent with your agency’s plans to address carbon and focus on environmental health,” says Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs. “Replacing petroleum with drop-in alternatives like biodiesel and renewable diesel will immediately reduce carbon. Also, biodiesel and renewable diesel reduce particulate matter and hydrocarbon emissions that contribute to cancer, lung, and heart disease rates.” The NBB study shows that switching from petroleum to 100 percent biodiesel in transportation could annually bring the communities studied fewer asthma attacks and other lung problems, lost workdays, and premature deaths as well as a reduction in cancer risk. “The EPA report doesn’t really discuss solutions,” Kovarik adds, “which we can provide.” *********************************************************************************** McKinney Named New CEO of NASDA The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture announced that Ted McKinney is the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer. The group says he will lead NASDA in amplifying the voice of state departments of agriculture in Washington, D.C., seeking policy solutions for our food system, and expanding and deepening NASDA’s partnerships. “Representing a unified voice from all 50 states and four territories, NASDA is a leader and a problem solver on our nation’s most important agricultural issues,” McKinney says. “I’m honored to get chosen for the position, and I’m delighted to continue serving our country through advocating for state departments of agriculture. Moving forward, I’m excited to set new horizons for NASDA and ensure that agriculture thrives in our states and territories.” McKinney most recently was the USDA’s Undersecretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. He led the development and implementation of the department’s trade policy, facilitated foreign market access, and promoted opportunities for U.S. agriculture. “Mr. McKinney’s exceptional background reflects the spirit of NASDA’s ambition to unite state, federal, and industry leaders around the best solutions for farmers, ranchers, and communities they serve,” says Ryan Quarles, President of NASDA. “His advocacy experience will bring strength to NASDA’s federal partnerships.” *********************************************************************************** Wheat Export Sales Jump to a Marketing-Year High Export sales of wheat rose week-to-week, while corn and soybean sales in the first full week of the 2021-2022 marketing year were impressive. The USDA says wheat sales to overseas buyers totaled 617,000 metric tons, a marketing-year high point, in the seven days ending on September 9. That’s 59 percent higher than the previous week and well above the prior five-year average. Nigeria bought almost 329,000 metric tons, followed by Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan. Exports for the week hit 514,100 metric tons, 32 percent above the previous week. Corn sales in the first full week of the marketing year totaled over 246,000 metric tons. Mexico was the largest buyer at 154,300 metric tons, with exports of corn for the week totaling 192,000 tons. Soybean sales to offshore buyers totaled 1.26 million metric tons. China bought just over 945,000 metric tons, the top total for the week. Soybean weekly exports were 244,400 metric tons. *********************************************************************************** #FarmON Concert to Support National FFA Foundation The Farm Journal’s #FarmON Benefit Concert on Monday night, September 20, will feature some of today’s top country music voices. At the same time, viewers who tune in can also show their support for the FFA and the work they do to develop future leaders in agriculture. Donations from the benefit concert will go to the National FFA Foundation. The hour-long concert is headlined by Easton Corbin, a three-time American Country Music Award winner. Alex Miller, who competed on American Idol season 19, will also perform. Both musicians are FFA alumni. “We are excited to provide this unique concert experience as a thank you to farmers, ranchers, and everyone who keeps our food system moving forward,” says Charlene Finck, president of Farm Journal. “What’s even more exciting is this concert features performers who have direct ties to FFA, which makes it personal to them as they team with us to support the National FFA Foundation.” The #FarmON Benefit Concert is free to all viewers and will start on Monday, September 20, at 7 p.m. Central Time. It will get shown on RFD-TV and live-streamed at www.AgWeb.com. Register for the concert for free or donate to the National FFA foundation at www.FarmJournalFieldDays.com/Register.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 20, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will be comparing notes on early harvest anecdotes, checking the latest weather forecasts and will also watch for any news of export sales. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. USDA will post its first estimate of soybean harvest progress, along with a second report on the corn harvest. Weather A frontal boundary moving through the Corn Belt will produce some areas of moderate rainfall and gusty winds on Monday. Tropical moisture continues across the Southeast while moisture is pulled northward over the eastern Midwest as well. The showers will bring delays to maturing crops and harvest. The rain will mostly miss the southwestern Plains, which are in need of more moisture for winter wheat establishment, but it is turning drier behind this system.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 17, 2021 |


USDA Extends Deadline to Apply for Pandemic Assistance to Livestock Producers The Department of Agriculture is providing additional time for livestock and poultry producers to apply for the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program, or PLIP. Producers who suffered losses during the pandemic due to insufficient access to processing may now apply for assistance for those losses and the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animals through October 12, 2021, rather than the original deadline of September 17, 2021. PLIP is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-shah-no) states, “We want to ensure that all eligible producers have the opportunity to apply for this critical assistance.” PLIP provides payments to producers for losses of livestock or poultry depopulated from March 1, 2020, through December 26, 2020, due to insufficient processing access as a result of the pandemic. Payments are based on 80 percent of the fair market value of the livestock and poultry and for the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animal. Eligible livestock and poultry include swine, chickens and turkeys. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Dairy Industry Advances Solutions to Deliver a More Sustainable and Secure Food System The U.S. dairy community is reaffirming its commitment to be part of the climate solution, pledging to address its total greenhouse gas footprint. The industry is also setting goals to achieve carbon neutrality, optimize water use and improve water quality by 2050. In addition, U.S. dairy is strengthening equitable access to nutritious dairy foods worldwide while ensuring animal and employee welfare through a transparent production system. Ahead of the Food Systems Summit, the UN solicited "game-changing" ideas, initiatives and innovations that can bring about positive change. The U.S. dairy industry responded with three solutions announced in a news release Thursday. The goals include the U.S. Dairy Net Zero initiative, The National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management Program and School Nutrition and Food Bank Partnerships. Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy chairman Mike Haddad (hah-dad) states, “As food systems transformation takes center stage, the U.S. dairy sector is undergoing a transformation of its own.” *********************************************************************************** Cryan Joining AFBF as Chief Economist The American Farm Bureau Federation Announced Thursday Dr. Roger Cryan (Cryin’) will join the organization as chief economist next month. Cryan joins Farm Bureau after serving as director of the Department of Agriculture’s Economics division for the Agricultural Marketing Service for nine years. He previously served as Vice President for Milk Marketing and Economics at the National Milk Producers Federation. At NMPF, Cryan developed and successfully led efforts to change federal milk pricing and marketing regulations, and served as an appointed member of the USDA Advisory Committee on Agricultural Statistics. Earlier in his career, Dr. Cryan served as an economist for the Federal Milk Market Administrator in Atlanta, Georgia. Farm Bureau says he has earned several awards, including the prestigious Bruce Gardner Memorial Prize for Applied Policy Analysis, presented by the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, for his work developing the dairy payment provisions in the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program in 2020. *********************************************************************************** Latest Drought Monitor Shows Dryness Extending in the Midwest The latest U.S. Drought Monitor shows short-term dryness expanding in the Midwest as the Western U.S. deals with a prolonged, severe drought. The Midwest dryness favors summer crop maturation fieldwork, including harvest efforts and winter wheat planting, but is reducing topsoil moisture. Meanwhile, long-term drought issues persist across the upper Midwest, despite some recent rainfall. The Department of Agriculture also reported that topsoil moisture was at least one-third very short to short in each Midwestern State except Wisconsin. Short-term dryness and drought has become more apparent in recent weeks across the southern section of the High Plains, including parts of Kansas and Colorado. Above-normal temperatures largely offset any benefit from patchy rainfall across northern California and the interior Northwest. Meanwhile, USDA reported that at least one-half of the acreage devoted to rangeland and pastures was rated in very poor to poor condition in eight of the 11 Western States. *********************************************************************************** AEM Welcomes Precision Agriculture Loan Act Farm state Senators this week introduced the Precision Agriculture Loan Act. Nebraska Republican Deb Fischer and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar say their bipartisan legislation would create a program within the Department of Agriculture to provide loan financing to farmers and ranchers interested in purchasing precision agriculture equipment. Precision agriculture is defined as a wide range of new technologies in farming and ranching that can allow producers to reduce their environmental footprint, lower costs, and improve productivity. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers applauded the legislation Thursday. AEM President Dennis Slater states the legislation “will give U.S. farmers a whole new set of tools to help achieve climate goals while continuing to feed and fuel the world.” AEM’s own research shows that increased adoption of precision agriculture technology in the crop farming industry can have a significant environmental and economic impact for farmers. Senator Fischer adds the bill “will allow more producers to invest in the equipment they need to make their operations more efficient, environmentally-friendly, and productive.” *********************************************************************************** Cargill Introduced Regenerative Ag Revenue Stream for Farmers One year ago, Cargill committed to advance regenerative agriculture practices across ten million acres of land in North America by 2030. Cargill has been enrolling farmers in Cargill RegenConnect, a new regenerative agriculture program that pays farmers for improved soil health and positive environmental outcomes, including payment per metric ton of carbon sequestered. The new program connects farmers to the growing carbon marketplace and will help scale the voluntary adoption of regenerative agriculture practices. Farmers enrolled in Cargill RegenConnect will implement regenerative agriculture practices of their choice beginning this fall into the next planting season. Practices that will qualify include cover crops and reduced- or no-tillage. In a study of 100 farmers across nine states conducted by The Soil Health Institute and supported by Cargill, researchers found that soil health management systems increased incomes for 85 percent of farmers growing corn and 88 percent of farmers growing soybeans. Additional details regarding Cargill's full suite of farmer programs can be found at CargillAg.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 17, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index is due out at 9 a.m. CDT Friday and is the only official report of the day. Traders will do their usual thing of checking out the latest weather forecasts and pausing at 8 a.m. to see if USDA has another export sale to report. Weather Showers continue in association with the remnants of Nicholas across the Delta and Southeast, producing some locally heavy rainfall that could damage cotton and soybeans. Showers across the Central Plains into the Midwest will continue to wane this morning and be less severe along a front later today.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 16, 2021 |


Kansas City Southern Accepts Canadian Pacific Merger Agreement Kansas City Southern Wednesday announced the termination of a merger agreement with Canadian National Railway. KCS has entered a merger agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway, presumably ending the bidding war for KCS. Kansas City Southern determined the proposal from Canadian Pacific continues to demonstrate a “Company Superior Proposal” under the pending agreement with Canadian National. Upon closing of Canadian Pacific’s voting trust, each share of KCS common stock will be exchanged for $90 in cash and 2.8 shares of CP common stock. Closing will be subject to approval by the stockholders of Canadian Pacific and KCS and regulatory approvals. In connection with the termination of the Canadian National merger agreement, KCS is paying CN a breakup fee of $700 million. Kansas City Southern will also return an additional $700 million Canadian National paid to KCS. Kansas City Southern will schedule a new Special Meeting of Stockholders for KCS stockholders to vote on the CP merger agreement. *********************************************************************************** NCC Releases Inaugural Sustainability Report The National Chicken Council Wednesday released its inaugural sustainability report. The report provides a comprehensive overview of U.S. chickens raised for meat, known as “broilers,” and the industry’s collective progress in its environmental, broiler welfare and social impact journey, as well as efforts to build a more sustainable food system. The 2020 U.S. Broiler Chicken Industry Sustainability Report was submitted to the Scientific Group of the U.N. Food Systems Summit 2021, ahead of the U.N. Food Systems Summit later this month. NCC's report addresses six essential industry topics, including air, land and water, broiler health and welfare, employee safety and well-being, food and consumer safety, community support and security, employee safety and well-being. The report finds that between 2010 and 2020, land use decreased 13 percent, greenhouse gas emissions fell 18 percent, and water consumption declined 13 percent. View the 2020 U.S. Broiler Chicken Industry Sustainability Report here on the NCC website, nationalchickencouncil.org. *********************************************************************************** Red Angus Association Approves Gene-Edited Traits for Animal Registration The Red Angus Association of America announced Wednesday they will provide herdbook registry of Red Angus animals carrying gene-edited traits for heat tolerance and coat color. Both trait approvals originate from specific genetic alterations designed and submitted by Acceligen, a technology company pioneering commercialization of gene-edited food animals. Acceligen has already bred and registered animals that express a trait known for better tolerance to tropical and sub-tropical heat. Black-to-red gene edits have also been made on multiple calves that will be born soon. These traits are a part of Acceligen's business portfolio that focuses on providing opportunities to the global cattle industry for better genetic management of animal well-being and health. Red Angus is the first beef breed organization to accept gene-edited animals into their registry. Tom Brink, the association’s CEO, states, “In considering the future, we see an opportunity to accelerate the Red Angus breed's genetic progress by selectively allowing gene-edited animals into our population.” *********************************************************************************** Meat Institute: Scapegoating Industry Does Not Help Consumer The North American Meat Institute this week claimed the Secretary of Agriculture’s transparent attempts to scapegoat the meat and poultry industry to shift blame for inflationary prices will not help consumers. NAMI President and CEO Julie Anna Potts states, “Americans are experiencing firsthand what the Secretary refuses to acknowledge, the effects of COVID and lack of labor are hurting consumers, and nothing proposed by the Secretary of Agriculture on the structure of the meat and poultry industry will help families struggling to pay for groceries.” After repeated attempts to convey the challenges faced by meat and poultry packers and processors in meeting extraordinary consumer demand to Biden Administration officials, Potts sent a letter to Secretary Vilsack. The letter is in response to Vilsack’s comments during a White House press briefing earlier this month. At the time, Vilsack comments that the structure of the meat and poultry industry is causing price inflation for meat and poultry products. *********************************************************************************** Senator Stabenow to Keynote United Fresh Washington Conference Senator Debbie Stabenow will keynote Wednesday morning's General Session Breakfast, September 22, during next week's United Fresh 2021 Washington Conference. The Michigan Democrat and Chair of the Senate Ag Committee will share insights on how to best address current policies opportunities, and obstacles facing the produce industry. In announcing the keynote, a United Fresh spokesperson states, “Senator Stabenow plays a powerful and unique role in shaping our nation’s agriculture and nutrition policies.” Next week’s Washington Conference, September 20-22 in Washington, D.C., will include face-to-face Congressional meetings as the produce industry advocates for critical issues impacting the fresh produce supply chain, including labor, food safety, nutrition policy, infrastructure and more. The event also features a Produce Advocacy Bootcamp for attendees new to communicating with Congress, workshops on public policy issues, general sessions with national leaders, and networking events as industry leaders come together in common purpose to build a stronger business climate. *********************************************************************************** Consumer Food Prices Up Slightly Again The monthly Consumer Price Index shows a further increase in food prices. The food index increased 0.4 percent in August after larger increases in recent months. The food at home index increased 0.4 percent over the month as four of the six major grocery store food group indexes rose. The index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs rose 0.7 percent over the month, as the beef index rose 1.7 percent. The index for fruits and vegetables rose 0.2 percent in August after declining in July. The index for dairy and related products declined in August, falling one percent after rising in each of the previous four months. The index for cereals and bakery products was unchanged in August after increasing 1.2 percent in July. The food at home index rose three percent over the past 12 months. Five of the six major food group indexes increased. The only group to decline was dairy and related products, which fell 0.5 percent over the last 12 months.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 15, 2021 |


University of Missouri FAPRI Baseline Report: Farm Income Could Decline Next Year Higher commodity prices are contributing to a sharp increase in U.S. net farm income in 2021. However, under current policies, farm income could drop again in 2022 as government payments decline and production expenses rise. That's according to the September University of Missouri Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute September baseline report. In 2022, FAPRI predicts net farm income declines by $23 billion, and net cash income falls even more sharply. Reduced government payments and higher production expenses explain the decline, as there is little net change in farm receipts. In later years, projected net farm income remains fairly steady in nominal terms at just under $100 billion each year. Rising asset values and slower growth in debt reduces the sector’s debt-to-asset ratio in 2021 and 2022, temporarily reversing the trend of previous years. Lower projected farm income can halt the rise in farm real estate values in 2023, and the debt-to-asset ratio again begins to increase. *********************************************************************************** Get With Your Tax Advisor Now on Potential Tax Changes Agriculture tax advisory firm KCoe Isom welcomed the proposed tax package that would drop previously suggested changes to the "step-up" in basis. While the legislation is far from the finish line and the proposal is far from final, KCoe's tax advisors noted that the proposed language includes changes that could significantly impact many farmers and ranchers. The firm says farmers and ranchers need to evaluate and address potential tax impacts before year-end. Other changes in the proposed tax bill, including accelerating the reversion of prior estate tax rates and estate tax exemptions, will have the potential to affect farmers without adjustments. According to KCoe's tax advisors, there are opportunities to avoid some anticipated negative effects with proper year-end planning. A spokesperson for the firm states, "Every farmer and other agriculture business owner should be talking with their tax advisors and legal counsel today to evaluate the proposed changes in this bill." *********************************************************************************** Ag Committee Leaders Applaud CFTC Nominations The leadership of the Senate and House Agriculture Committees applaud the recent nominations by President Joe Biden to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. President Biden nominated Rostin Behman as CFTC chair, and Kristin Johnson and Cristy Goldsmith Romero as commissioners. In 2019, Behnam spearheaded the establishment of CFTC's Market Risk Advisory Committee's Climate-Related Market Risk Subcommittee. Behnam joined the commission in 2017 as a commissioner, and since January 2021, has served as the Acting Chairman. Johnson is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law at Emory University School of Law. Finally, Romero is the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program. House Agriculture Chairman David Scott says, “I am very pleased with the nominees President Biden has tapped to help lead the CFTC.” Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow adds, “I was very fortunate to work with Russ for many years and know that he is very knowledgeable and passionate about his work at CFTC.” *********************************************************************************** Trevino Nominated for USTR Chief Agricultural Trade Negotiator President Joe Biden this week nominated Elaine Trevino for chief agricultural trade negotiator at the United States Trade Representative’s Office. Trevino is President of the Almond Alliance of California and served as a Deputy Secretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Governor Gray Davis. In the announcement, the White House states Trevino "understands tariff and nontariff barriers to trade and the importance of maintaining America’s strong trade agreements and global positioning.” American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall welcomed the nomination, stating, “Her strong roots in agriculture and her experience in America’s largest exporting state have prepared her for the challenges of representing the nation on trade issues.” Duvall adds that opportunities to create new trade agreements with the European Union and Great Britain, as well as expanding the China Phase 1 agreement, make “filling this position with the most qualified person extremely important.” *********************************************************************************** Near Record Number of Farmland Sales The pace of land sales picked up this year for Farmers National Company. The company reports it is on track for a near-record or record sales year on several fronts. The higher land prices have spurred an increased number of landowners to sell, with some wanting to complete the sale before year-end due to uncertainty about potential tax law changes. The question becomes whether the increased sale activity will continue into 2022. Based on the calls from landowners that Farmers National Company is receiving, the company says land sales will continue to be brisk into the new year. The higher land prices continue to come into play in the sale or keep decision-making of landowners now and as they look to the immediate future. Many landowners are deciding to sell now and capture the current high prices. However, other landowners are pushing the decision to sell into 2022. *********************************************************************************** Secretary Vilsack to Attend G20 Agriculture Ministerial in Italy Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack heads to Italy this week to attend the G20 Agriculture Ministers’ Meeting. The Department of Agriculture says Vilsack will reaffirm the United States’ commitment to international engagement on agriculture and make the case for joint action on climate, food security, agricultural innovation, and closer global integration through trade. The meeting seeks to build consensus around shared concerns ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit 2021, planned for late October in Rome. The G20’s membership, which includes 19 countries and the European Union, represents 60 percent of the world’s population, 80 percent of global GDP and 75 percent of global exports. Vilsack will deliver remarks at the G20 Open Forum on Sustainable Agriculture Thursday, along with planned personal meetings with counterparts from the European Union, Brazil, Italy and Spain. During the meeting Saturday, Vilsack will deliver remarks focusing on the G20's contributions to the United Nations' upcoming Food Systems Summit and Climate Change Conference.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 15, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The Federal Reserve releases its report on U.S. industrial production for August at 8:15 a.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of energy inventories at 9:30 a.m., including ethanol production. The National Oilseeds Processors Association will release its estimate of members' soybean crush in August later Wednesday morning. Traders will continue to monitor the latest weather forecasts and keep an eye out for any new export sales. Weather Tropical Depression Nicholas was still located over Louisiana but has weakened considerably. Rain may still be heavy around Louisiana and southern Mississippi, which could induce flooding across the southern Delta for maturing soybeans and cotton, but the system is likely to become a remnant low either today or tomorrow. A front will still produce some showers across the southern Midwest and Southern Plains as well, generally with light to locally moderate amounts.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 14, 2021 |


JBS Grand Island Meatpacking Fire Halts Processing A fire at the JBS Grand Island, Nebraska, processing facility halted beef packing production Monday. The Grand Island Fire Department explained via Twitter the fire was burning the roof of the facility’s rendering section. The JBS Grand Island facility is a two-shift, beef-processing plant employing more than 3,600 people. The facility’s Facebook page contained a post stating, “Fabrication and slaughter A and B shift will not be working” Monday. The facility has a daily processing capacity of 6,000 head and slaughters roughly five percent of U.S. cattle. JBS in June announced a $130 million facility improvement effort to increase production capacity at both the Grand Island facility and another in Omaha. The impacts of the fire and how it was started are unclear. JBS told Reuters Monday they expected to reopen the facility Tuesday (today). In 2019, a fire at Tyson’s Holcomb, Kansas facility took out 30,000 head of weekly processing capacity, with immediate and still lingering market disruption issues. *********************************************************************************** House Ag Dems Approve Spending Measure House Ag Committee Democrats Monday approved an incomplete spending package as part of the Build Back Better Act. The legislation will be added with sections approved by other committees to be compiled by the House Budget Committee later this month. The agriculture spending legislation includes $18 billion in rural job-promoting investments through the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development and $7.75 billion to support agriculture research and infrastructure. The bill also includes $1 billion to support expanded biofuel infrastructure, $4 billion for a new Rural Partnership Program, $2.6. billion for the Rural Energy for America Program, and $40 billion for forest-related programs. It does not yet include USDA’s voluntary conservation programs. Iowa Democrat Cindy Axne, who supported the spending package, states, “While I am still withholding my final decision on this package until I see the full bill, seeing these investments included will be a critical part of my choice.” *********************************************************************************** Dairy Checkoff Unveils New Fuel Up to Platy 60 Website The dairy checkoff just updated the farmer-founded Fuel Up to Play 60 program to help students and educators navigate the school year. Fuel Up to Play 60, created by the dairy checkoff and National Football League, developed an easy-to-navigate website educator dashboard and an enhanced student app to meet these needs inside and outside the classroom. Beth Engelmann of Dairy Management Inc. states, "One of the checkoff's key priorities is ensuring dairy products and farmers' story are relevant with today's younger consumers." The website launched Monday to coincide with the "Start Fresh with Fuel Up to Play 60" initiative. The site allows educators and parents to learn about the program and access resources focused on dairy nutrition and dairy farmers' care for the environment. Fuel Up to Play 60 also will work with NFL players, dietitians and educators to share ideas on how they fuel their days on social media channels. Find the new website at www.FuelUpToPlay60.com. *********************************************************************************** AFT Adds to Policy Team to Tackle Climate Issues American Farmland Trust just filled a new position on its policy team to tackle climate issues. Samantha Levy joins the policy team as climate policy manager to lead the organization's climate policy agenda. American Farmland Trust is preparing a multiyear strategy to advance transformational climate policy at the state and federal level, including the 2023 Farm Bill. In its most recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change supported the mounting interest among policymakers in regenerative farming practices as a way to mitigate climate change. A report by American Farmland Trust demonstrates that widespread adoption of just two regenerative practices on U.S. farmland, cover crops and no-till, would sequester the carbon equivalent of removing up to 260 million automobiles from American roadways each year. Previously, Levy led AFT’s climate work in New York, collaborating with farm and environmental groups to incorporate farmers into the state's Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Tractor and Combine Sales Increased in August U.S. tractor sales increased last month compared to 2020 while combine sales jumped 19.8 percent, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers monthly sales report. Combine sales posted the second month in a row of growth near 20 percent in the United States, and total farm tractor sales climbed 9.9 percent. Sub 40 horsepower tractor sales were up 8.7 percent, and mid-sized, 40-100 horsepower, sales were up 5.4 percent. Heavy-duty units saw significant growth, with the articulated four-wheel drive segment leading the way for the fourth straight month by climbing 40.4 percent to 306 units sold. Year-to-date farm tractor sales remain up 13.3 percent and combines up 13.8 percent. For Canada, total farm tractor sales were up 1.9 percent and combine sales were up 28.7 percent. AEM’s Curt Blades states, “Farmers investing in more of these big machines is another indicator of that farmer optimism we’ve been seeing.” *********************************************************************************** Weekly Fuel Prices Move Lower Gasoline and diesel prices slipped in the last week as refineries recover from Hurricane Ida. However, Tropical Storm Nicholas threatens refineries in the Houston area, and could pause further declines this week. The weekly average gas price fell 1.9 cents per gallon to $3.15 and the average diesel price slipped less than a half-cent to $3.29 per gallon. Gas Buddy analyst Patrick De Haan states, “While Nicholas would appear to be a minor storm, we could see a deluge of water – the same issue that caused some significant damage in Ida’s wake to refineries in Louisiana.” Meanwhile, gasoline demand continues to decline for the fourth week in a row as the summer driving season ends. Nationally, weekly gasoline demand fell 1.8 percent from the prior week. Crude oil prices have seen upward as some oil production in the Gulf of Mexico remains offline following Hurricane Ida, and oil inventories are down six percent from the five-year seasonal average.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 14, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department reports on the August consumer price index at 7:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday, the only official report of the day. Traders will be watching the latest weather forecasts and for any news of an export sale. Weather Scattered showers will move through the Central Plains to the Midwest along a front on Tuesday and could be severe. Tropical Storm Nicholas, which was briefly a hurricane Monday night, will produce heavy rainfall for eastern Texas into Louisiana on Tuesday and could cause some flooding. This could impact recovery efforts in Louisiana to get power restored to terminals around the Port of New Orleans as well as flood mature cotton and soybean crops in the southern Delta.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 13, 2021 |


Court Denies Petition for Rehearing on Year-Round E15 The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a petition for a rehearing in the case of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers vs. EPA Decision. In that case, the court vacated a 2019 regulation allowing year-round sales of E15. The Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, and the National Corn Growers Association released a joint statement expressing disappointment. “Our petition for a rehearing was an opportunity for the D.C. Circuit Court to remedy a decision that runs counter to legal precedent and which, if maintained, threatens our nation’s rural economy and progress on moving toward a clean energy future,” the groups say in the statement. “Today’s petition denial is another hurdle to ensuring year-round access to low-carbon E15, but due to the timing, American drivers and retailers will be able to finish out the E15 summer driving season without disruption to their access to cleaner fuel choices at the pump.” The groups say moving forward that they’ll continue to push for a permanent remedy long before the start of next year’s summer driving season. In 2019, the EPA issued its final rule extending the Reid Vapor Pressure volatility waiver to E15, allowing the fuel to be sold year-round in conventional gasoline markets. Oil refiners soon after challenged the rulemaking in the D.C. Court of Appeals. *********************************************************************************** USDA Accepts Over 2.5 million Acres in Grassland CRP Signup The USDA accepted offers for more than 2.5 million acres from agricultural producers and private landowners for enrollment through this year’s Grassland Conservation Reserve Program Signup. This is double last year’s enrollment and brings the total acres enrolled across all CRP signups in 2021 to more than 5.3 million acres, surpassing USDA’s goal of four million acres. Producers and landowners submitted offers for nearly four million acres in Grassland CRP, the highest in the signup’s history. “This increased interest in working lands conservation serves two purposes,” says Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-shah-no), Farm Service Agency Administrator. “It helps close the gap between the enrollment and available acres, and it leaves room for the administration to be innovative with the other conservation tools, such as the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program, at our disposal as we work to enlist non-traditional partners in our conservation efforts.” He also points out that grasslands sequester an incredible amount of carbon in their roots that are resilient even during drought and wildfires. It also provides good wildlife grazing habitat and grazing opportunities for producers and landowners. “There’s no better way to increase soil health than with thoughtful animal impact,” Ducheneaux adds. *********************************************************************************** USDA Releases WASDE/Crop Production Reports USDA released the Crop Production and World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate Reports. USDA is calling for higher corn and soybean production in the U.S. Corn production is forecast at 15 billion bushels, up 246 million bushels from last month on increases to harvested area and yield, which is 176.3 bushels per acre, up 1.7 bushels. Harvested area is 85.1 million acres, up 600,000. The U.S. corn outlook is for larger supplies, increased feed and residual use, greater exports, and higher ending stocks. The season-average corn price dropped 30 cents to $5.45 a bushel. Soybean production is predicted at 4.37 billion bushels, up 35 million with lower harvested area more than offset by a higher yield forecast of 50.6 bushels per acre. The area harvested for soybeans is predicted to be 86.4 million acres, lower than last month but five percent from last year. Soybean supply and use changes include higher beginning stocks, production, exports, ending stocks, and a lower soybean crush rate. The season-average price is down 80 cents to $12.90 per bushel. The U.S. wheat outlook is for reduced supplies, slightly higher domestic use, unchanged exports, and decreased ending stocks. The season-average farm price dropped ten cents to $6.60 a bushel for wheat. *********************************************************************************** USCA Applauds Administration Message on Consolidation and Competition Last week, the White House hosted a press conference featuring Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack and Brian Deese, the Director of the National Economic Council, to discuss the meatpacking sector. Both Vilsack and Deese talked specifically about the impacts of a highly concentrated meatpacking sector for American producers and consumers. A White House release outlined how the Big Four meatpackers are generating record profits during COVID-19 and doing so at the expense of consumers, farmers, and ranchers. U.S. Cattlemen’s Association President Brooke Miller says that the White House seeing the need for increased competition in the marketplace is a testament to the many agricultural producer and consumer voices who’ve been advocating for change. “COVID highlighted what we already knew to be true,” Miller says. “A lack of transparency and true price discovery hurts independent producers and processors and inflates beef prices at the retail counter.” The USCA says this is an important first step towards addressing the problem of concentration in the meatpacking sector. “We look forward to working with the USDA, including the new advisor for Fair and Competitive Markets, to investigate illegal and anti-competitive practices in the cattle marketplace,” Miller adds. *********************************************************************************** Senators Announce Bill Calling for New Country of Origin Labeling for Beef Last week, a bipartisan group of four Senators jointly announced the American Beef Labeling Act. The legislation would mandate the reinstatement of beef and beef products into the existing Mandatory Country of Origin Labeling Law (M-COOL), allowing for a 12-month development and implementation grace period. The Family Farm Action Alliance has long advocated for Country-of-Origin Labeling as an essential tool for transparency in the meat industry. Under current law, imported beef products can bear a “Product of the USA” label once finished and repackaged domestically. Farm Action Alliance says the leniency has benefited large multinational meatpacking companies at the expense of independent, U.S.-based farmers and ranchers. The bill would require to Office of the Trade Representative, in consultation with the Ag Secretary, to develop a World Trade Organization-compliant means of reinstating MCOOL for beef within one year of reinstatement. The legislation was introduced in the Senate by Republicans John Thune and Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Democrats Cory Booker of New Jersey and Jon Tester of Montana. *********************************************************************************** USDA Joins the Governmental SAF Challenge The USDA joined the government-wide Sustainable Aviation Fuels Grand Challenge to meet 100 percent of U.S. aviation fuel demand. The initiative was announced last week at a White House roundtable. “USDA and American agriculture will make sustainable aviation possible in concert with our federal and industry partners and their stakeholders,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We can expand our ability to power the nation’s aviation sector with fuel grown right here at home by hard-working Americans while creating economic opportunity for American farmers, business owners, and rural communities.” He also says that participating in SAF supply chains is a big win for the aviation business, consumers, and the planet. USDA will provide continued research, development, demonstration, and deployment of technologies necessary for identifying innovative solutions that will enable a government-wide commitment of producing 35 billion gallons of SAF per year by 2050. It also establishes a near-term goal of three billion gallons per year as a milestone for 2030. The agency will also work to ensure farmers, foresters, small businesses, and rural economies benefit from these opportunities with attention to cost, quality, and quantity of agricultural-based feedstock for producing SAF.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday September 13, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will check the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. USDA's weekly report of grain inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CDT with amounts still expected to be light, but improved, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. USDA's Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. will give the first summary of corn harvest progress and a second week of winter wheat planting progress. Weather Scattered showers are developing as a system moves along a stalled front across the northern tier of the country. Some of the showers could be severe as they move through, which would be hard to recover from should damage occur. Tropical Storm Nicholas will continue to move north with heavy rainfall along the Texas Coastline as well. The system is expected to make landfall later today or tonight but only move slightly inland.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 10, 2021 |


NAMI Responds to Economic Council Comments on High Meat Prices The North American Meat Institute issued a statement on what it calls “inflammatory statements” from Brain Deese, Director of the National Economic Council. During a press briefing, Deese said concentration in the meat sector raised concerns of “pandemic profiteering.” He and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack released a report that says, “Four large conglomerates overwhelmingly control meat supply chains, driving down farmer earnings and driving up consumer prices.” Mark Dopp, COO of the North American Meat Institute, says, “As with almost every industry, meat and poultry packers and processors of all sizes have been, and continue to be, affected by the global pandemic and the inflationary trends that challenge the U.S. economy. American consumers of most goods and services are seeing higher costs, largely due to a persistent and widespread labor shortage. The meat and poultry industry is no different.” Dopp adds that issuing inflammatory statements that ignore the fundamentals of how supply and demand affect the markets accomplish nothing. “Meat and poultry markets are competitive and dynamic, with no one sector of the industry consistently dominating the market at the expense of another,” Dopp adds. *********************************************************************************** Rising Rail Freight Costs Squeezing Farmers and Ranchers Incomes The domestic rail transportation network is vital to moving products and goods supplied by America’s farmers and ranchers. Over 33 million carloads of U.S. goods moved up and down the 140,000-mile rail system, generating over $85 billion in total rail revenue in 2019. The Surface Transportation Board says farm products contributed nearly 7.4 percent, or $6.3 billion, of the total rail revenue. An American Farm Bureau Market Intel Report shows that over the last five years, the cost of shipping grain on railways has increased. Rail rates on corn, soybeans, and wheat, including fuel charges, have gone up 13, 11, and seven percent, respectively, since 2016. Rates on ethanol transportation have increased 18 percent during the same period. Increasing fuel prices in the broader economy are influencing rising rates but not as sharply as some might think. The Association of American Railroad’s three-year fuel price index shows a modest increase in rail fuel prices, but that’s primarily a recovery from COVID-19-related price drops linked to reduced consumption in early 2020. In the first half of 2021, the prices have all but returned to 2018 and 2019 levels. Ohio experienced the highest rate increase of 26 percent by origin, while North Carolina saw the highest increase (22 percent) based on shipping destinations. *********************************************************************************** Ag States Invest in California Ethanol Ag officials from Nebraska and two other states have decided to invest more money into the ethanol-based fuel market in California. The Journal Star says the Nebraska Corn Board and corn checkoff groups in Missouri and Kansas will provide California with $1.25 million over the next 12 months to help increase the availability of gasoline with an 85 percent ethanol blend, commercially known as E85. Pearson Fuels will supply the fuel. California’s largest E85 distributor, Pearson has almost 250 retail locations around the state. This is the Nebraska Corn Board’s second investment in E85 in California. Earlier this year, the Nebraska organization provided two grants to Pearson to help pay for E85 gas pumps at two gas stations in the Los Angeles area. “These stations are moving a tremendous volume of E85,” says John Greer of the Nebraska Corn Board. “One station alone will use about 50,000 bushels of corn in the form of ethanol. The investment is already proving worthwhile for our growers.” California is the largest E85 market in the country and should reach 50 million gallons this year. Despite that, it has fewer E85 stations than either Iowa or Minnesota, which combined have less than one-fourth of California’s population. *********************************************************************************** Groups Highlight Biofuels Benefits for California’s Carbon-Neutral Future A group of ag and biofuel organizations and companies submitted comments last week to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) highlighting the role renewable fuels can play in the state’s plans. They say fuels like ethanol can help California get to its goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2045 or sooner. The board is in the process of updating its Scoping Plan that lays out the path toward achieving the state’s carbon reduction targets. The comments were signed by the leadership of groups like Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, the National Corn Growers Association, POET, and many others. After reminding the board that ethanol has already cut more than 26 million metric tons of carbon in California, the group recommended that the board expedite the approval of E15 as a legal fuel in California. This action alone could immediately increase the reduction of greenhouse gasses by 50 percent. The second recommendation was that the state considers requiring internal combustion engine light-duty vehicles sold in California be flex-fuel vehicles beginning in the model year 2024. Finally, they urged the board to extend the Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program beyond 2030. *********************************************************************************** Indigo Pays 267 Farmers for Progress in First-Ever Carbon Farming Program Indigo Ag announced it has dispersed initial payments to the inaugural group of “Carbon by Indigo” participants. The 267 paid growers are the first to implement on-farm practice changes and provide the data required to ensure the rigorous measurement and validation of resulting emissions reduction and removal according to registry protocols. The group has helped to pave a path for the scaled production of carbon credits as a new income stream for farmers. Carbon by Indigo is the first carbon farming program to provide outcomes-based direct payments to growers at scale. Indigo also announced plans to expand eligibility for farmers in 28 states. The company says 78 percent of U.S. cropland is now poised to respond to the mounting demand for high-quality credits, which has already resulted in a credit price increase of 35 percent in the first year of the program. Starting in the 2022 crop year, farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, Alabama, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are also eligible to begin farming carbon with the support of Indigo’s farmer-first program. *********************************************************************************** NPPC Asking Congress to Address Labor Shortage Through Reconciliation The National Pork Producers Council called on Congress to include language to expand the existing H-2A visa to year-round ag laborers in a budget reconciliation bill, set to get voted on Monday in the House. Like many sectors of the economy, the U.S. pork industry is faced with a severe labor shortage. But even before COVID-19, the industry was having trouble filling jobs, a situation generally attributable to urbanization and an aging rural population. The tight labor market prompted the pork sector to rely on foreign-born workers. “The U.S. pork industry is highly dependent on foreign-born workers, but current visa programs don’t provide access to enough workers to meet the labor needs on our farms and in packing plants,” says NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “We need a dedicated year-round workforce.” The group wants lawmakers to open the current H-2A temporary and seasonal worker visa program to year-round labor, without a limit on the annual number of visas, and to provide legal status for agricultural workers already in the country. Legislation approved earlier this year in the House would expand the program to year-round workers but cap the number of visas that can get issued each year.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 10, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is set for 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, the same time the Labor Department posts the U.S. producer price index for August. USDA's Crop Production and WASDE reports are due out at 11 a.m. CDT Friday with a DTN webinar to follow at noon. Traders will continue to keep their eyes on the latest weather forecasts and any news of export sales. Weather Mild to hot and dry conditions on Friday will promote drydown and early harvest of crops across most of the country. Some showers will be possible in the Pacific Northwest, which would be favorable for winter wheat planting and establishment where they occur.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 9, 2021 |


Tax Proposals Risk Future of American Farms The American Farm Bureau Federation, 46 state Farm Bureaus, and 280 organizations representing family-owned agribusinesses sent a letter to Congressional leaders about tax policies. The letter asks them to leave important tax policies in place as they draft legislation implementing President Biden’s “Build Back Better” agenda. The letter addresses four key tax provisions that make it possible for farmers and ranchers to survive and pass their businesses on to the next generation: estate taxes, stepped-up basis, the 199A small business deduction, and like-kind exchanges. “The policies Congress enacts now will determine agricultural producers’ ability to secure affordable land to start or expand their operations,” the letter says. “Regardless of whether a business has already been passed down through multiple generations or is just beginning, the key to their longevity is a continued ability to transition when a family member or business partner dies.” For this reason, the groups firmly believe the current federal estate tax code provisions must be maintained. These tools are as crucial as ever because the number of farmers and ranchers 65 and over outnumbers those under 35 by four to one. Over 370 million acres of land will change hands in the next two decades. *********************************************************************************** Biofuel Leaders Oppose EPA Motion Regarding 2018 SREs A coalition of biofuel and agricultural groups announced opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s motion to remand but not vacate Small Refinery Exemptions granted by the Trump administration. The coalition includes groups like the Renewable Fuels Association, Growth Energy, National Corn Growers Association, National Biodiesel Board, American Coalition for Ethanol, and the National Farmers Union. The EPA motioned to remand but not vacate the 31 exemptions that the coalition is currently challenging in D.C. Circuit Court. In statements to the court, the groups say that EPA’s issuance of the exemptions was arbitrary and capricious and exceeded the Agency’s authority under the Clean Air Act. “While we’re encouraged that the EPA intends to reconsider the 31 SREs granted for the 2018 compliance year, we oppose the EPA’s motion to remand without a deadline and without addressing the SREs’ ongoing damage to the biofuel industry,” the groups say in a statement. “In addition to seeking a remand, the Biden EPA should ask they get vacated, or at the very least, the EPA should ask the court to set a deadline by which the reconsideration of these petitions must be completed.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Hosting ASF Action Week September 13-17 The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service will host African Swine Fever Action Week September 13-17. The goal is to encourage swine producers to take part in multiple webinars to learn about ASF and what they can do to help protect the American swine herd. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack emphasized the importance of keeping the devastating disease out of the U.S. “This disease does not affect people and can’t be transmitted from pigs to humans, and it’s not a food safety issue,” the Secretary says. “However, ASF is incredibly destructive, and we need you to be informed.” Every day during the week, APHIS will host a webinar beginning at 2:00 pm Eastern Time every day and covers different topics. They include where ASF exists and what’s at stake, the steps that APHIS is taking to prevent and prepare for ASF, the benefits of biosecurity, what to expect in an ASF outbreak, and the feral swine factor in ASF. The webinars will also be recorded for viewing later. “The disease was recently confirmed less than a thousand miles away in the Dominican Republic,” Vilsack says. “ASF has never been detected in the United States, and we are committed to keeping it out and protecting our vital swine industry.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Expands Assistance to Help with Feed Transportation Costs In response to the severe drought conditions in the Western U.S. and Great Plains, USDA says it plans to help cover the cost of transporting feed for livestock that rely on grazing. USDA will update the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) to immediately cover feed transportation costs for drought-impacted ranchers. The Farm Service Agency will provide more details and tools to help ranchers get ready to apply at their local USDA Service Center later this month at www.fsa.usda.gov/elap. “USDA is currently determining how our disaster assistance programs can best help alleviate the significant economic, physical, and emotional strain agriculture producers are experiencing due to drought conditions,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. ELAP already covers the cost of hauling water during drought, and this change will expand the program beginning in 2021 to cover feed transportation costs where grazing and hay resources have been depleted. Cost-share assistance will also be made available to cover eligible costs of treating hay and feed to prevent the spread of invasive pests. “Today’s announcement is intended to provide relief as ranchers make fall and winter herd management decisions,” Vilsack adds. *********************************************************************************** Axne Secures One Billion in Biofuel Infrastructure Funding Iowa Representative Cindy Axne (AX-knee) announced she secured one billion dollars in funding for biofuels infrastructure spending in the House’s first draft of the Build Back Better Act. The goal of the funding is to support the expanded availability and use of renewable fuels. She says it’s a great thing for rural communities, the ag economy, the planet, and for hundreds of thousands of Americans whose jobs will be supported by the investment. “Make no mistake, this was no easy fight,” Axne says. “For months, I’ve been helping teach others in D.C. about some of the key advantages of biofuels, including the fact that it’s been proven to be twice as clean as fossil fuels.” The Iowa representative says while she won’t announce her final decision on whether she’ll support the package until she sees the full bill, seeing the investments included in the legislation will be a critical part of her choice. House committees are beginning to consider their sections of the Build Back Better Act, which tackles a range of issues like infrastructure, health care, education, and climate. Included in the initial draft is $1 billion in funding for the USDA to provide grants over the next eight years to expand biofuel infrastructure. *********************************************************************************** July Beef Exports Set Record While Pork Value Remains Strong U.S. beef exports set another value record in July. Data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation shows export value climbed 45 percent from a year ago to just over $939 million, while volume was the third largest of the post-BSE era at 122,743 metric tons, up 14 percent year-over-year. July beef exports to the mainstay Asian markets of Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan were relatively steady with last year, but at a significantly higher value. Exports volume growth was driven by record-large shipments to China and a strong rebound in markets located in the Western Hemisphere. From January through July, U.S. beef exports rose 18 percent from last year to over 822,800 metric tons, with the value 30 percent higher at $5.58 billion. Pork exports were steady with last year at 221,800 metric tons, but the export value jumped 20 percent to $657 million. July pork exports were mainly driven by growth in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, and the Philippines, while chilled exports were stronger in Japan and South Korea. For January through July, exports were one percent above last year’s record pace at just under 1.8 million tons, while value jumped by eight percent to $4.98 billion.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 9, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday morning's reports start with U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by the Energy Department's weekly natural gas storage at 9:30 a.m. CDT. The Energy Department releases other energy inventories at 10 a.m. CDT, including a report on ethanol production. USDA's weekly Export Sales report will be released Friday morning, due to this week's holiday schedule. Weather Brief Tropical Storm Mindy has become a depression as it moved into Florida and Georgia Wednesday night. The storm will exit off the coast Thursday afternoon. The system has been producing moderate to heavy rainfall, which could be damaging to open-boll cotton in the region. Across the interior of the country, it will be dry and mild with good conditions for drydown and early harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 8, 2021 |


USDA Announces Pandemic Relief for Farmworkers The Department of Agriculture announced $700 million in competitive grant funding to help farmworkers and meatpacking workers with pandemic-related health and safety costs. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the new Farm and Food Workers Relief grant program funding Tuesday. Additionally, $20 million of the funding was set aside for at least one pilot program to support grocery workers. The program will provide relief to farmworkers, meatpacking workers, and front-line grocery workers for expenses incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The relief is intended to defray costs for reasonable and necessary personal, family, or living expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funds will be awarded through grants to state agencies, tribal entities, and non-profit organizations serving farmworkers and meatpacking workers ranging from $5,000,000 to $50,000,000. Applications must be submitted electronically through www.grants.gov. USDA will soon announce a separate $700 million suite of pandemic safety and response grants for producers, processors, farmers markets, distributors, and seafood processors and vessels impacted by COVID-19. *********************************************************************************** Latest Ag Economy Barometer Released The Monthly Ag Economy Barometer rose four points in August to 138. Announced Tuesday, the modest rise was primarily attributable to an improvement in the Current Conditions Index, which climbed 9 points to 152. The Index of Future Expectations rose just two points to 132. Although the barometer and its two key sub-indices improved in August compared to July, all three indices remain well below readings posted this past spring. The barometer follows last week’s USDA report that farm net income and expenses are rising, and producers are becoming increasingly concerned about rising input costs. On the August survey, 39 percent of respondents said they expect input prices to rise by eight percent or more, up from 30 percent who felt that way in both June and July. One in five producers expect farm input price inflation to exceed 12 percent. Additionally, a majority of corn and soybean producers expect a significant rise in farmland cash rental rates for 2022. *********************************************************************************** Barchart Raises U.S. Crop Production Forecasts and Cuts Canadian Estimates Software and technology provider Barchart released its monthly Yield and Production forecasts Tuesday for U.S. and Canadian field crops. The September report indicates an increase in U.S. crop production for corn, soybeans, and hard red winter wheat, while Canadian production forecasts show a decrease for spring wheat and soybeans. Barchart expects U.S. corn production at 15.4 billion bushels with an average yield of 183.6 bushels per acre, higher than the latest USDA figures of 14.8 billion bushels with an average yield of 174.6. Barchart pegs production at 4.5 billion bushels for soybeans with an average yield of 51.3 bushels per acre, compared to USDA's 4.3-billion-bushel crop and 50 bushels per acre average yield. And for wheat, Barchart forecasts U.S. hard red winter wheat average yield at 45.5 bushels per acre compared to USDA’s average yield of 44.5. For Canadian crops, Barchart expects spring wheat production at 773.1 million bushels and soybean production at 222.9 million bushels. *********************************************************************************** Kansas City Southern Engaging with Canadian Pacific Kansas City Southern Railway says the bid from Canadian Pacific may be the superior proposal compared to an offer by Canadian National, which didn’t gain Surface Transportation Board preliminary approval. Legal and financial advisers conclude the deal could reasonably be expected to lead a “Company Superior Proposal” as defined in KCS’s merger agreement with Canadian National. KCS remains bound by the terms of the Canadian National merger agreement, in which CN agreed to acquire KCS in a stock and cash transaction valued at $325 per KCS share. The renewed offer from Canadian Pacific Railway is a cash and stock transaction valued at $300 per KCS share. Canadian Pacific maintains that a CP-KCS merger is the only viable option for KCS following the Surface Transportation Board ruling. Kansas City Southern announced last week it would engage in discussions with Canadian Pacific Railway. Kansas City Southern also scheduled a September 24 stockholders meeting to vote on the Canadian National proposal. *********************************************************************************** AFBF Urges USDA to Address Supply Chain Issues The American Farm Bureau Federation urges the Department of Agriculture to address supply chain issues facing farmers and ranchers. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week, the organization details priorities for USDA to consider in response to President Joe Biden’s Executive Order on America’s Supply Chains. AFBF President Zippy Duvall states, “our nation has witnessed vulnerabilities throughout the supply chain that haven’t been seen before,” due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Among the recommendations, AFBF asks USDA to consider action on livestock markets and processing capacity, farm inputs, transportation, labor and trade. The letter states supplies of farm inputs like crop protectants, fertilizers, and seeds have been difficult to obtain, and expensive to purchase. Highway transportation of farm products and supplies is more expensive and less available today than pre-pandemic levels. And agricultural labor, both domestic and foreign, is increasingly difficult to access and expensive, making already small margins even tighter. *********************************************************************************** NCBA Contests Seeks Singer to Perform National Anthem The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is accepting entries for the NCBA National Anthem Contest through October 15. The contest winner will perform the national anthem at the NCBA 2022 convention’s Opening General Session February 1, as well as the Thursday night NCBA event on February 3. The winner will also receive round trip airfare to Houston, a hotel room for three nights, free NCBA convention registration, plus a pair of boots, jeans and a shirt from Roper or Stetson. Any member of NCBA, the American National CattleWomen, the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, or family member, are eligible to participate in the contest. Previous NCBA National Anthem Contest winners are not eligible. The top four finalists will be chosen by October 25, 2021, and videos will be posted to the convention website at convention.ncba.org. Voting will be open to the public from November to November 19, 2021, and the winner will be announced November 22, 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 8, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Due to the Labor Day schedule, the only official report on Wednesday's docket is the Beige Book from the Federal Reserve, due out at 1 p.m. CDT. Traders will still pay attention to the latest weather forecasts and any news of export sales that surfaces. Weather Scattered showers are expected across the Southeast on Wednesday as an upper-level disturbance moves into the region tonight. Some flooding will be possible, which could damage open-boll cotton. Additional showers may pop up around the Great Lakes, but with no severe potential Wednesday.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 7, 2021 |


Keep “Navigable” in the New WOTUS Rule The American Farm Bureau submitted recommendations on the definition of “waters of the United States,” or WOTUS. The organization filed its recommendations with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA announced in June that it intended to revise the definition of WOTUS and solicited pre-proposal recommendations. In its recommendations, Farm Bureau expressed disappointment in the EPA’s decision to replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule and explains why the rule should be left in place. “To correct the fatal flaws in the 2015 WOTUS Rule, the Agencies carefully struck ‘a reasonable and appropriate balance between Federal and State waters’ that is ‘intended to ensure that the agencies operate within the scope of the federal government’s authority over navigable waters.’ AFB says the agencies can ensure clean water for all Americans through a blend of the Clean Water Act’s regulatory and non-regulatory approaches, just as Congress intended. Farm Bureau wants new regulations to meet several recommendations, including adhering to Supreme Court precedents, define WOTUS in clear terms that are easy to apply in the field, limits jurisdiction over non-navigable tributaries, and several others. “Any attempt to regulate typically dry low spots on farmland and pastures as ‘jurisdictional‘ waters would constitute overly burdensome regulations,” Farm Bureau also says in its recommendations. *********************************************************************************** Growth Energy Applauds Dems on Biofuels in Budget Process Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor applauded Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar’s efforts to include support for homegrown biofuels in Congress’ upcoming budget reconciliation process. Klobuchar was joined by several colleagues in sending a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asking for Congressional leadership to include key biofuel initiatives in reconciliation. Those initiatives include the Biofuel Infrastructure and Agricultural Market Expansion Act, the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act, the Clean Fuels Vehicle Act, the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act, and the extension of the Second-Generation Biofuel Producer Tax Credit. In the letter, the members say, “Providing additional market access for higher blends of low carbon fuels in the budget reconciliation process will create jobs in rural communities, lower the price of fuel at the pump, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and will decrease carbon emissions.” Skor appreciates the members who are fighting for the biofuel industry. “We’re currently working on several biofuel issues before Congress,” she says. “That includes a legislative effort to allow retailers to sell E-15 year-round.” She also says the initiatives would return certainty to the biofuels market as it faces regulatory uncertainty from this administration. *********************************************************************************** USDA Offers New Insurance Option for Split-Apply Nitrogen Corn farmers who “split-apply” nitrogen will soon have another option for crop insurance coverage. Starting in the 2022 crop year, the USDA’s Risk Management Agency will offer the Post Application Coverage Endorsement (PACE) in certain states for non-irrigated corn, providing coverage for producers who use this practice that’s considered better for natural resources and saves money for producers. To “split-apply” nitrogen, growers make multiple fertilizer applications during the growing season rather than providing all of the crop’s nitrogen requirements with a single treatment before or during planting. “USDA is committed to building insurance options that encourage the use of practices that are better for the environment and producers’ bottom lines,” says RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy. “We can offer the PACE thanks to the cooperation of four partners, including the Illinois Corn Growers Association and the National Corn Growers Association.” Split application of nitrogen can lead to lower input costs as well as help prevent runoff or leaching of nutrients into waterways and groundwater. This is because it’s used in more targeted amounts over multiple applications, rather than one large application. *********************************************************************************** “Farm Safety Yields Real Results” Agriculture is one of the most dangerous industries in the country and abroad. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health says approximately two million full-time workers were employed in production ag in the U.S. as recently as 2018. About 100 agricultural workers suffer a lost-work-time injury every day. National Farm Safety and Health Week has been recognized during the third week of September for the last 77 years to help bring attention to the risks of working in agriculture. This year, AgriSafe and its partners at the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety picked this year’s theme as “Farm Safety Yields Real Results” for the week of September 20-25. AgriSafe will offer free webinars on tractor and roadway safety, keeping young people safe, anhydrous ammonia safety, respiratory protection, mental health, and women’s health issues. Continuing Education credits for healthcare and allied health professionals will be available with two sessions addressing mental health topics. AgriSafe is an organization made up of health and safety professionals who strive to reduce health disparities found in the agricultural community. *********************************************************************************** Tyson Foods, Unions Reach Deal on COVID-10 Vaccine Mandate Tyson Foods says that labor unions agreed to support its requirement for U.S. employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by November. Reuters says the company will offer new benefits to workers including paid sick leave. Companies like Tyson have been trying to give employees incentives to get vaccinated through bonuses and other benefits as the Delta Strain pushes case numbers higher. Tyson Inc., which sells the most meat in the country, said in early August that American workers must get vaccinated, though the requirement for unionized plant workers was subject to negotiations. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, who together represent more than 80 percent of Tyson’s 31,000 unionized workers, say they now support the company’s effort. The UFCW, America’s largest meatpacking union, says it secured 20 hours of paid sick leave per year for Tyson employees as part of the negotiations on the mandate. The company says more than 90,000 employees, about 75 percent of its U.S. workforce of 120,000, have received at least one dose of a vaccine, up from about 56,000 before the mandate. The union says some workers can be exempt from the mandate for religious or medical reasons. *********************************************************************************** Weekly Export Sales Numbers Higher Export sales of soybeans, corn, and wheat for delivery in the 2021-2022 marketing year were all higher week-to-week. The USDA says soybean sales in the seven days that ended on August 26 totaled 2.13 million metric tons, up from 1.75 million a week earlier. China was the top soybean buyer at 1.26 million metric tons, while unnamed countries purchased another 654,000 tons. Mexico, Egypt, and Taiwan rounded out the top five soybean buyers. Exports totaled 324,000 metric tons, up 25 percent over the prior week. Corn sales to overseas buyers for delivery surged to 1.16 million metric tons, up from 684,000 tons the previous week. Mexico was the top corn buyer at 464,5000 metric tons, followed by Colombia, Canada, Japan, and Taiwan. Exports for the week dropped 30 percent to 529,300 metric tons. Wheat sales jumped to 295,300 metric tons, up noticeably from the 116,000 tons sold the week before. Mexico was the top buyer at 103,900 metric tons, followed by Japan, Nigeria, China, and the Philippines. An unnamed country canceled shipments totaling 100,000 metric tons.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday September 7, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets There are no major economic reports on Tuesday. DTN will be watching for the sign of any new China demand on USDA sales. We will also be watching for any news on the Gulf export facilities return to normal following Hurricane Ida's devastating impact on Gulf export facilities and power lines. Weather A system moving through the Great Lakes will bring scattered showers to the Midwest on Tuesday. A few of those could be severe from Illinois into Michigan. Some winter wheat areas in Kansas and Texas will also see some shower potential as well, which may be marginally beneficial before a drier pattern settles into the Plains. Unfavorably hot and dry conditions continue in the Pacific Northwest for winter wheat planting and establishment.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 3, 2021 |


Farm Sector Profits Forecast to Increase in 2021 A Department of Agriculture report forecasts increased farm income for 2021. Net farm income is forecast to increase by $18.5 billion, or 19.5 percent. At $113.0 billion, net farm income would be at its highest level since 2013 and 20 percent above its 20-year average of $93.9 billion. In inflation-adjusted 2021 dollars, USDA expects net farm income to rise $15.0 billion in 2021 from the previous year. USDA expects net cash farm income to increase by $23.8 billion, or 21.5 percent, to $134.7 billion in 2021. Net cash farm income encompasses cash receipts from farming as well as farm-related income, including government payments, minus cash expenses. Lower direct Government payments and higher production expenses in 2021 are expected to only partially offset higher cash receipts. The expected decrease is largely because of lower supplemental and ad hoc disaster assistance for COVID-19 relief in 2021 compared to 2020. USDA predicts production expenses to increase 7.3 percent to $383.5 billion in 2021. *********************************************************************************** Food Help on the Way for Louisiana Households from USDA Families in Louisiana affected by Hurricane Ida will soon be able to receive food packages containing USDA Foods. The Department of Agriculture approved the short-term measure to address an immediate need for food until a longer-term solution is ready. Earlier this week, USDA also approved a waiver to allow participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to purchase hot foods with their benefits through September 28. The Disaster Household Distribution program was approved to start on September 1, 2021. The program helps states and tribal nations after a disaster disrupts normal food supply channels. Louisiana officials will work directly with their partners and local food banks to issue up to 800,000 food boxes to individuals in the state. And food banks will use their current network of food pantries to distribute foods in areas affected by Hurricane Ida. Each package will contain approximately 25 pounds of USDA Foods, including shelf-stable items like canned goods, fruit, protein items and other staples. *********************************************************************************** USDA Seeking Comments on Labeling Meat Derived from Animal Cells The Department of Agriculture is seeking comments regarding the labeling of meat and poultry products made using cultured cells derived from animals. USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking Thursday to solicit comments. FSIS will use the comments to create future regulatory requirements for labeling the food products. In March of 2019, USDA and FDA announced a formal agreement to jointly oversee the production of human food products made using animal cell culture technology and derived from the cells of livestock and poultry. The agreement seeks to ensure that such products brought to market are safe and truthfully labeled. Under the agreement, FDA will oversee cell collection, growth, and differentiation of cells. FDA will transfer oversight at the cell harvest stage to FSIS. FSIS will then oversee the cell harvest, processing, packaging, and labeling of products. There is a 60-day period for comment on the issue. Learn more and comment at fsis.usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** House Ag Democrats Express Concern Regarding Biotech Trade Barriers House Agriculture Committee Democrats are expressing concerns over non-tariff trade barriers imposed on agricultural biotechnology products. Led by Chairman David Scott of Georgia, the lawmakers sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Trade Representative Katherine Tai. The letter addresses China's import approval process delays for U.S. agriculture biotech products. Under the U.S.-China Phase One agreement, China committed to predictable and consistent average timelines for regulating biotechnology products for import and agreed not to request information unnecessary for assessing the safety of a product for its intended use. However, the letter states, "nearly a year and a half into the two-year agreement, timelines for product approvals for import still average more than seven years." Meanwhile, Mexico committed to enhanced biotechnology measures and sanitary and phytosanitary standards in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. But the lawmakers say Mexico has demonstrated a reversal in its treatment of U.S. biotechnology products. Mexico's regulatory authority has not issued a biotechnology approval in over three years. *********************************************************************************** Shackleford Names Assistant USTR for Southeast Asia and the Pacific U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai this week announced Dawn Shackleford as the Assistant United States Trade Representative for the Office of Southeast Asia and the Pacific. Shackleford most recently served as Assistant United States Trade Representative for WTO and Multilateral Affairs. USTR Tai states, “Her diplomatic experience and judgement will be invaluable as we engage our trading partners and resume our work to enhance U.S. economic cooperation in Southeast Asia and across the Pacific.” The Office of Southeast Asia and Pacific Affairs is responsible for USTR’s trade and investment relations with the countries of Southeast Asia, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. Before her work at USTR, Shackleford served as a policy analyst within the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy and in the Department of the Navy from 1998 to 2004 and as an adjunct professor at American University's School of International Service from 2003 to 2005. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Red Meat Exporters and Latin American Buyers Reunite at USMEF Event More than 130 red meat buyers from 21 countries across Central and South America and the Caribbean recently gathered at the U.S. Meat Export Federation Latin American Product Showcase. Attendees included 55 U.S. exporting companies. The event was held annually from 2011-2019 before the COVID pandemic forced a postponement in 2020. The showcase, held August 25-26, is well-established as a go-to event for buyers and sellers alike, but this year's participants were especially anxious to renew business relationships and pursue new opportunities in face-to-face meetings, according to USMEF. Pork and beef producers who provide financial support for the showcase also participated, with this year's event receiving funding from the USDA Market Access Program, the Beef Checkoff Program, the National Pork Board, the United Soybean Board, the Nebraska Beef Council and the Texas Beef Council. A USMEF representative states, “Despite all the travel challenges and other COVID-related restrictions, we were able to move forward with the showcase and the participants are very thankful to be back together after a long absence.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday September 3, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Early on Friday we will be watching for the non-farm payroll report and the unemployment rate along with purchasing manager's index (PMI) for signs of how the U.S. economy is faring. We will also be watching for new China purchases and any developments at Gulf shipping terminals. Weather A frontal boundary is moving through the Western Corn Belt Friday morning with some moderate rainfall from western Wisconsin and southeast Minnesota into eastern Kansas. The front will be slow to move south across the Southern Plains. This should provide beneficial rainfall for some areas of the Southern Plains winter wheat areas that have been dry over the last several weeks but could cause some flooding in Kansas.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 2, 2021 |


Agricultural Leaders Urge Farmers and Rural Communities to Get Vaccinated More than 30 state and national agricultural organizations recently joined to promote vaccination among farmers and rural Americans. In an open letter to association members, the organizations added another voice to the call to get vaccinated. In addition, the groups utilized an opinion editorial published in the Des Moines Register to share a message about the connection between agriculture, science, and health. CropLife America President and CEO Chris Novak states, “Whether you live in the city or on the farm, we are all at risk if we don’t take steps to keep ourselves and our communities safe.” The effort is in response to the continued challenge of the COVID-19 delta variant cases increasing among unvaccinated populations. Agriculture leaders are asking farmers to protect their health and their communities by getting vaccinated, saying, "Farmers make science-based decisions every day to protect their farms and their communities - they should make these same decisions to protect their health as well." *********************************************************************************** Canadian Pacific Renews Kansas City Southern Offer The bidding war for Kansas City Southern continues as Canadian Pacific renewed its bid the acquire the railway company. The move followed the Surface Transportation Board’s rejection of the Canadian National bid, which STB determined, “the proposed voting trust is not consistent with the public interest standard under the board’s merger regulations.” Keith Creel, Canadian Pacific President and CEO, states, "we have notified the KCS Board of Directors that our August 10 offer still stands to bring this once-in-a lifetime partnership together." Canadian National issued a statement following the STB decision, expressing disappointment in the STB decision. Canadian National and KCS are evaluating what options are available. Meanwhile, the KCS Board of Directors will evaluate Canadian Pacific’s proposal under the terms of a merger agreement with Canadian National. Canadian Pacific has filed a proxy statement asking stockholders to vote against the proposed CN-KCS combination at the KCS stockholders meeting on September 3. *********************************************************************************** NASS to Review Acreage Earlier for Certain Crops The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service announced Wednesday it will review planted and harvested acreage for select crops earlier than normal. The crops under review include corn, cotton, peanuts, rice, sorghum, soybeans, and sugarbeets. USDA NASS will review all available data, including survey data, satellite-based data, and the latest information from USDA’s Farm Service Agency and Risk Management Agency. USDA says it is normal practice for NASS to review the data in September for cotton, peanuts, and rice. However, the review typically takes place in October for corn, sorghum, soybeans, and sugarbeets. USDA officials say the data is sufficiently complete this year to consider adjustments in September on those crops. If the data review justifies any changes, NASS will publish updated planted and harvested acreage estimates in the September 10 report. In October, NASS will again review acreage for corn, sorghum, soybeans, and sugarbeets, as well as for canola, dry edible beans, and sunflowers. *********************************************************************************** RMA Updates Whole-Farm Revenue Protection Organic and aquaculture producers can soon benefit from updates to the Department of Agriculture’s Whole-Farm Revenue Protection plan. USDA’s Risk Management Agency announced Wednesday it is revising the plan of insurance to make it more flexible and accessible to producers beginning in crop year 2022. RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy says the changes to the program “will make it a better risk management tool for producers." Changes to the program include increasing expansion limits for organic producers to the higher of $500,000 or 35 percent, increasing the limit of insurance for aquaculture producers to $8.5 million, and allowing a producer to report acreage as certified organic, or as acreage in transition to organic, when the producer has requested an organic certification by the acreage reporting date. Meanwhile, RMA revised dates for the Pasture, Rangeland and Forage and Apiculture Insurance programs earlier in the week. Farmers now will have until December 1 to make coverage decisions and complete reporting activities. *********************************************************************************** Louisiana Farm Bureau Opens Hay Clearing House, Effects of Hurricane Ida The Louisiana Farm Bureau Livestock Advisory Committee is working to help ranchers through a natural disaster by re-engaging its hay clearinghouse in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. Through the effort, volunteers and Louisiana Farm Bureau staff connect ranchers who need hay or pasture for their cattle with pasture space and folks who have hay to donate, or transportation services. Find the resource online at lafarmbureau.org/hayclearinghouse. Hurricane Ida caused significant damage to Louisiana farms, along with damages to the major export corridor of the Mississippi River. USDA’s Weekly Weather Bulletin notes that Ida moved through the eastern side of southern Louisiana’s sugarcane production area, shortly before harvest was due to begin. In addition, Ida battered some row crops, including maturing rice and open-boll cotton. Meanwhile, market experts attribute price declines this week to market concerns over damages to export facilities in the area. The storm was strong enough to briefly reverse the flow of the Mississippi River. *********************************************************************************** Farm Journal Announces Town Hall with Secretary of Agriculture Farm Journal will host a town hall meeting with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday (this) afternoon. The free webinar titled "American Ag Policy: A Conversation with the Secretary of Agriculture is set for 2 p.m. CT. The virtual event will focus on topics important to farmers and all the agriculture industry, including policy priorities, COVID assistance, trade, climate, market transparency and goals for the upcoming year. AgDay TV host and Farm Journal magazine editor Clinton Griffiths will host the event. Griffiths says, “This is an opportunity to hear from Secretary Vilsack himself on the future of the industry, the challenges ahead and the policies he expects to shape our conversations over the next several years.” Audience participants will be able to submit questions during the event. Register online at www.farmjournal.com/farm-country-updates/. All registered attendees will receive on-demand access to the session when available.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday September 2, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Early Thursday there are a host of economic reports coming out, with initial jobless claims, trade balance and factory orders all giving us some indication of how the economy is doing. Along with that, DTN will be watching for developments at the Gulf export facilities with respect to power outages and structural damage. Of course, we will be watching to see if China shows up in 8 a.m. sales announcements to confirm rumors of soybean buying. Weather A front slowly moving through the Plains will bring areas of moderate to locally heavy rainfall into Minnesota and Iowa tonight. Rainfall will help to ease drought but will not be very useful for corn or soybeans at this point in the season.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 1, 2021 |


Hours-of-service Exemption for Livestock Haulers Extended The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Tuesday extended the exemption from hours-of-service requirements for livestock haulers. Advocated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the organization says livestock haulers continue to need the flexibility for the well-being of livestock during hauls, and to keep grocery stores stocked with beef during the continued disruption of COVID-19. NCBA says livestock haulers have been operating under an hours-of-service exemption since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining a strong safety record. NCBA Executive Director of Government Affairs Allison Rivera states, "I believe FMCSA's continuation of this exemption indicates their confidence in our producers to keep doing their work safely and effectively." 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, livestock haulers need flexibility to protect the welfare of animals. The most recent extension will continue through midnight on November 30, 2021. *********************************************************************************** Arizona Judge Vacates Navigable Waters Protection Rule The District of Arizona court ruled this week to vacate the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. However, what the decision means for the rule is one of many questions yet to be answered. Three courts have refused to dismantle the NWPR, including last month when a federal court in South Carolina refused a similar request from plaintiff groups. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall states, “This ruling casts uncertainty over farmers and ranchers across the country and threatens the progress they’ve made to responsibly manage water and natural resources.” Duvall says AFBF is reviewing the ruling to determine the next course of action. Earthjustice sued the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers in the Arizona case. An Earthjustice attorney states the ruling allows “the Clean Water Act to continue to protect all of our waters while the Biden administration develops a replacement rule.” The ruling comes just days ahead of the deadline for comments regarding the Environmental Protection Agency’s effort to rewrite WOTUS. *********************************************************************************** WTO Panel to Review China’s Compliance on Farm Product Imports The World Trade Organization this week established a dispute panel requested by China. The panel will determine whether China complied with an earlier WTO ruling regarding the administration of its tariff rate quotas. China submitted its second request for a dispute panel to determine whether it has complied with a 2019 ruling concerning its TRQs for certain agricultural products, including wheat, rice, and corn. The United States does not agree that China has complied with the WTO ruling, and notes that there is a lack of transparency and fairness in China's administration of TRQ measures. China claims that it has fully implemented the rulings and recommendations in the dispute. The U.S. said it is willing to work with China to reach a resolution. Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Guatemala, India, Japan, the Russian Federation, Chinese Taipei, and the United Kingdom reserved their rights to participate as third parties in the proceedings. *********************************************************************************** Argentina Extending Beef Export Limits Argentina Tuesday extended beef export restrictions through the end of October. Reuters reports the Argentine government seeks to bolster domestic supply to help contain rising local food prices. Restricting exports by the Argentine government is often politically fueled, and this time comes a few months ahead of mid-term elections. A similar move occurred in June when the government limited exports on specific beef cuts and capped beef shipments by half of last year’s level through August. The government says the restriction “is essential to guarantee Argentine access to beef in the face of the sharp increase in prices for consumers,” A meat industry representative in Argentina told Reuters the sector had lost around $100 million in exports last month alone due to the restrictions. Argentina is one of the world’s largest beef exporters and a key supplier to China. Global beef prices are surging as China imports more beef, and higher grain prices push feed costs higher. *********************************************************************************** Lenders Can Now Apply for New Heirs’ Property Relending Program Intermediary lenders can now apply for loans through the new Heirs’ Property Relending Program, known as HPRP. The Department of Agriculture is accepting applications through October 29, 2021, and cooperatives, credit unions and nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply for the competitive loans. The loans ultimately help agricultural producers and landowners resolve heirs’ land ownership and succession issues. Farm Service Agency Administrator Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-shu-know) states, “Heirs’ property issues have long been a barrier for many producers and landowners to access USDA programs and services.” The relending program provides access to capital to help producers find a resolution to these issues. Through HPRP, FSA loans up to $5 million at a one percent interest rate to eligible lenders. Those eligible lenders will reloan funds to heirs to help resolve title issues by financing the purchase or consolidation of property interests and financing costs associated with a succession plan. USDA will host a webinar on September 15 for interested lenders. *********************************************************************************** Tractor Supply Co. Launches Annual FFA T-shirt Fundraiser Tractor Supply Company this week launched its seventh annual FFA T-shirt Fundraiser nationwide. The retailer will sell a special-edition FFA T-shirt in stores and online to support the National FFA Organization for a limited time. Each year, Tractor Supply designs an exclusive T-shirt for the National FFA Convention and Expo and sells it before the event. Campaign proceeds will be distributed to chapters across the country, funding agricultural programs and activities for FFA youth. The 2021 FFA T-shirt is available for $12.99 at Tractor Supply stores nationwide, at TractorSupply.com and through the Tractor Supply mobile app. Proceeds from the program support three FFA programs: Gift of Blue, Living to Serve and Alumni Legacy. Since its inception in 2014, Tractor Supply's T-shirt Fundraiser has raised a total of $1,714,884 for FFA programs. Additionally, Tractor Supply supports FFA in its mission through multiple annual fundraising events, such as Grants for Growing and activities at the local level.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday September 1, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets On the first day of September, ADP's report of private sector job growth for August will be released at 7:15 a.m. CDT, a possible hint of Friday's unemployment report. The Institute of Supply Management's index of U.S. manufacturing is set for 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. Weather Ida and her remnants will move through the mid-Atlantic on Wednesday while another system moves across the Northern Plains with increasing showers for the Dakotas down to Colorado. High temperatures will continue in the Southern Plains for the next few days, which is unfavorable for winter wheat planting.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 31, 2021 |


Vilsack Comments on USDA Trade Forecast The Department of Agriculture’s quarterly trade forecast released last week shows that U.S. agricultural exports not only continue at a record-setting pace for fiscal year 2021, but they will eclipse the 2021 total in fiscal year 2022. The August forecast is USDA’s first look at expected exports for 2022. Following the report, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says of farmers and ranchers, “global demand for their products is a testament to their quality, safety and commitment to sustainability and has led to a projected new record in U.S. agricultural exports.” The fiscal year 2021 forecast of $173.5 billion is $33.8 billion, or 24 percent, higher than the 2020 final total and nearly $17 billion above the previous record set in 2014. For fiscal year 2022, U.S. farm and food exports are projected at a record $177.5 billion, topping 2021’s forecasted level by $4 billion. The increase is primarily driven by expected record exports of soybeans, horticultural products, dairy products and sorghum. *********************************************************************************** USDA to Host AFS Webinars The Department of Agriculture will host webinars on African swine fever as part of African Swine Fever Action Week, September 13-17. USDA will host daily webinars to learn more about African swine fever and its global spread, actions the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is taking to safeguard the U.S., and biosecurity measures you can implement now to protect the U.S. herd. The Action Week is part of the continuing efforts to respond to the detection of African Swine Fever in the Dominican Republic and prevent its introduction into the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. ASF has not been detected in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands, and USDA is committed to keeping it out of both islands and the rest of the United States. APHIS is taking this additional action to further safeguard the U.S. swine herd out of an abundance of caution. You can learn more and find registration at ahpis.usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** Truck Used in B100 Pilot Showcased at Farm Progress Show The 2021 Farm Progress Show is underway, and attendees can see one of the five trucks in last year’s B100 pilot program in Decatur, Illinois. The pilot, conducted by ADM, the Illinois Soybean Association, Optimus Technologies, American Lung Association, National Biodiesel Board and Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, was designed to demonstrate the feasibility of commercial implementation of Optimus Technologies’ Vector System. The system enables conventional diesel vehicles to operate on 100 percent biodiesel, known as B100. Five of ADM’s Class 8 over-the-road trucks, equipped with The Vector System, were used in daily fleet operations. The vehicles successfully traveled hundreds of thousands of miles on B100, even in the coldest temperatures of a central Illinois and Missouri winter. The cab is on display outside ADM's exhibit at the corner of Seventh Progress Street and Central Progress Avenue. The 2021 Farm Progress Show runs from Tuesday (today) to Thursday in Decatur, Illinois. *********************************************************************************** Hurricane Ida Impacts Expected to Increase Fuel Prices GasBuddy’s weekly price outlook shows lower prices than last week but expects an increase following Hurricane Ida. Over the next few weeks, the national average may rise 5-15 cents per gallon or so, subject to damage assessments happening now. The weekly average price fell 2.2. cents to 4.12 per gallon, with diesel down one cent at $3.26 per gallon. Meanwhile, the Renewable Fuels Association says the Environmental Protection Agency can take action to minimize the hurricane’s impact on fuel prices. In a letter to the EPA, RFA’s Geoff Cooper states, “we ask that EPA take steps to immediately allow fuel terminal operators, blenders, and marketers to increase their use of fuel ethanol to help fill the void in gasoline supplies created by refinery shutdowns in the Gulf Coast.” Most oil refineries in the Gulf Coast region are either shut down or operating at reduced rates. When operating normally, these facilities account for about 12 percent of the nation’s refining capacity. *********************************************************************************** Texas Farm Animal Liability Act Changes Means Changing on-farm Signage Texas livestock owners need to update signage around their farm to keep protections under the Texas Farm Animal Liability Act. Texas AgriLife Extension agriculture law specialist Tiffany Dowell Lashmet tells AgriLife TODAY, “House Bill 365 made important changes to expand the scope of the Act in response to a Texas Supreme Court decision last year.” Previously, a sign was required only for farm animal professionals, but farm and ranch owners and lessees must also now hang a sign at or near their arena, corral or stable to get the statute’s protections. Passed in 1996, the Texas Supreme Court case in 2020 ruled the act did not apply to injuries on working farms and ranches. Texas lawmakers responded to ensure it applies to those entities, outlining all activities, species, and situations covered. Texas Farm Bureau and Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association will have signs available, or individuals can make their own. *********************************************************************************** Interior Department Expands Recreation on Fish and Wildlife Managed Areas The Interior Department Monday announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has opened new or expanded hunting and sport fishing opportunities across 2.1 million acres. The increase is the largest expansion of outdoor recreation opportunities in recent history. The increased recreational access includes 88 National Wildlife Refuges and one National Fish Hatchery. Secretary Deb Haaland (Holland) states, "Increasing access to outdoor recreation opportunities is essential to advancing the administration's commitment to the conservation stewardship of our public lands. The announcement expands 910 opportunities for hunting or fishing, as an opportunity is defined as one species on one field station. The announcement brings the number of units in the National Wildlife Refuge System where the public may hunt to 434 and the number where fishing will be permitted to 378. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities contributed more than $156 billion in economic activity in communities across the United States.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 31, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Early reports out Tuesday include the Chicago PMI (purchasing managers index), which could give a hint as to how the economy is doing, and the Consumer Confidence Index. DTN will also be watching for any deliveries against the expiring September contracts, new Chinese buying and updated weather forecasts. Weather Tropical Depression Ida continues to produce tropical rainfall and flooding along its path across the Tennessee Valley and Southeast on Tuesday. A front across the southern portions of the Midwest and Central Plains will do the same with periods of showers.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 30, 2021 |


Western House Members Ask for FEMA Disaster Declaration Several members of Congress are asking President Biden to declare a drought disaster in the western United States as record temperatures and wildfires hit several states hard. Democrats Joe Neguse (Neh-GOOSE) of Colorado and Jared Huffman of California, whose districts have been hit hard by drought and wildfires, joined 31 other lawmakers in the House asking the president and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to release additional resources to help Western areas faced with water cuts as supplies dwindle. “There’s little to no livestock feed available in the West, farmers are considering selling their livestock or land, and many species of wildlife are suffering from wildfires and no water,” Huffman and Neguse wrote in a letter to the White House. “This drought could have long-term impacts on our food supply, wildlife, and the livelihoods of Americans across the Western U.S.” NBC News says the letter supports a similar request this month from governors of 10 drought-stricken states asking the Biden administration to declare a drought disaster that would allow “agricultural communities to get access to funds that aren’t available through existing disaster programs.” The governors pointed out in their letter that historic drought may wipe out entire crops, limit yields, and lead to extreme levels of pests and disease that could add to the disaster. *********************************************************************************** Ag Credit Conditions Continue Improving Strength in the U.S. agricultural economy continues to drive improvement in farm income and credit conditions. As in recent quarters, farm loan repayments rates increased rapidly, and loan demand remained subdued. Bankers in the Kansas City Federal Reserve Districts also continued to report additional increases in farm income. With support from stronger farm finances and historically low interest rates, farmland values increased by at least 10 percent in almost all states in the district. The sharp bounce back in the American farm economy over the past year has bolstered farm income and credit conditions. However, profit opportunities in the cattle industry remained more limited than other major commodities, and ongoing drought has also created concerns for some producers. But strong support from government aid programs has provided ongoing support, and the outlook for farm finances in 2021 remained strong based on recent reports across the Federal Reserve Districts. Farm income increased substantially from last year throughout all participating districts. In the Kansas City, Minneapolis, and St. Louis Districts, the majority of bankers all said income was higher than the same time last year, and less than ten percent say incomes had dropped. *********************************************************************************** Groups Urge Congress to Pass the Next Generation Fuels Act Growth Energy praised the introduction of the Next Generation Fuels Act, sponsored by Illinois Democrat Cheri Bustos (BOOS-tohs) and Republican James Comer of Kentucky. CEO Emily Skor says the legislation represents a clear roadmap for turbo-charging the country’s progress against climate change while offering drivers cleaner, more affordable options at the pump. “With a natural octane of 113, ethanol is the only high-performance, homegrown, renewable fuel that’s ready to immediately loosen the hold that OPEC and its allies in Russia have over U.S. fuel prices,” Skor says. “This also directly addresses a recent court decision that threatens to stall the growth of higher biofuel blends like E15.” She also points out that low carbon, higher biofuel blends hold enormous potential for rural America’s role in clean energy production. The National Farmers Union also hailed the legislation. “There are many benefits to adopting low-carbon, high octane ethanol blends,” says NFU President Rob Larew. “Higher blends increase engine and vehicle efficiency, providing greater GHG emission reductions, as well as reducing emissions of criteria pollutants and air toxics.” *********************************************************************************** Groups Disappointed in Neonicotinoid Evaluation Grower organizations representing a variety of crops are disappointed with the Environmental Protection Agency’s draft biological evaluation (BE) for several neonicotinoid (NEO-ni-koh-tee-noid) products. The groups representing farmers across the country say that failure to consider real-world usage data in the analysis conducted as part of the Endangered Species Act could limit growers’ ability to protect their crops from pests, protect their livelihoods, and make sure endangered species are safe. The American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, National Cotton Council, and Minor Crop Farmer Alliance say ESA analysis, by law, is required to use “the best scientific and commercial data available” to ensure endangered species and their habitats will not be adversely affected by the agency’s decision. The groups point out that the EPA didn’t use the “best available data” and say that several assumptions the EPA made don’t align with how growers actually use the products. “USDA survey and commercial use data are available and show how growers use these tools, but the draft BE instead includes application rates, numbers, types, and reapplication timing for these products that are very inconsistent with the actual available data,” says Kevin Scott, president of the American Soybean Association. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces Expanded Crop Insurance Options for Specialty, Organic Crops The number of agricultural producers who buy crop insurance for their specialty or organic crops continues to climb. USDA attributes that to its work with producers and agricultural groups in recent years to create new crop insurance options. USDA’s Risk Management Agency recently released reports on specialty crops, organic crops, local food production, and greenhouse production, which highlighted insurance option improvements for specialty crops like fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, horticulture crops, and organic crops. Some improvements were put in place by the 2018 Farm Bill, while others resulted from producer feedback and research. “We recognize the necessity to adapt insurance options to meet agricultural producers’ needs,” says RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy. Between 1990 and 2020, liabilities for insured specialty crops rose from $1 billion to over $20 billion. From 2010 to 2020, liabilities for insured organic crops rose from $207 million to more than $1.7 billion, and the number of policies more than doubled. RMA and third-party groups also continue to refine existing policies and create new ones when there are gaps in coverage. Improvements include new options for California Citrus Trees, Florida Citrus, Hurricane Insurance Protection, and expanded crop insurance options for hemp. *********************************************************************************** Young Cattle Producers Needed for 2022 Convention Internships The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is offering college students a unique behind-the-scenes experience at its annual convention internship program. The 2022 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, the largest annual meeting of the U.S. beef cattle industry, will be on February 1-3, in Houston. Up to 18 interns will get selected and be responsible for setting up the indoor arena, assisting at committee meetings and Cattlemen’s’ College, posting on social media, and contributing in the NCBA booth. NCBA will also make sure the interns have adequate time to maximize their industry networking opportunities. Interns have to be available to work January 29-February 5, 2022, provide their own transportation to Houston, and be at least a junior in college at an accredited university at the time of the event. Applicants need a 3.0 GPA, should be well-versed in all areas of social media, and preferably have a background in or working knowledge of the cattle and/or beef industry. Students need to complete an online Student Internship Application and submit college transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a resume. The deadline is October 16.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 30, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will have checked rainfall amounts and the latest forecasts, especially the anticipated track of Tropical Storm Ida. A report on U.S. pending home sales is due out at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by USDA's weekly grain export inspections report at 10 a.m. USDA's Crop Progress report will be out at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather Heavy rainfall from now Tropical Storm Ida will continue to move north through the Deep South on Monday, causing a risk of flooding. Other scattered showers are expected along a front across the southern Midwest back through the Central and Northern Plains. Some severe storms could be possible in the Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 27, 2021 |


NPPC Applauds ASF Protection Zone Designation The USDA announced its intention to designate Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as a “protection zone.” That’s a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) designation that allows the U.S. to maintain its current animal health status should there be the detection of African Swine Fever or other foreign animal diseases on the island territories. The USDA will work to gain OIE acceptance of this designation to maintain U.S. pork export continuity should Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands have an animal test positive for African Swine Fever in the future. The United States, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, remain free of ASF, a swine-only disease with no implications for human health. There is no commercial pork trade from Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands to the U.S. mainland. “We thank Secretary Vilsack for taking this pre-emptive step to preserve the continuity of U.S. pork exports as we continue to work together to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever to the United States,” says Jen Sorenson, President of the National Pork Producers Council. The USDA, Customs and Border Protection, NPPC, and others are working together to contain the first outbreak of ASF in the Western Hemisphere in about 40 years to the Dominican Republic. *********************************************************************************** Grassley Wants Administration to Fill Ag Trade Positions Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley called on President Biden to fill a couple of key USDA positions that deal with agricultural trade. He wants qualified officials appointed to the positions of Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs. “I write to you today to express my concern that your administration is not making agricultural trade a priority,” Grassley said in the letter to the White House. “Two positions that are essential to agricultural trade have been left vacant, and there is no indication on when they will be filled. Appointing individuals to these two positions will allow the U.S. to expand market access and strengthen our agriculture community.” He points out that agriculture is essential to the livelihood of the 86,000 family farmers in Iowa and Americans who rely on export markets to sell the country’s abundance of food. “Every day that passes without qualified leadership in these positions means the U.S. is playing without a full team against our competitors,” Grassley also says. “Agriculture trade issues will continue to matriculate, and these two positions will have a portfolio that impacts every farmer and rancher in the country.” *********************************************************************************** NFU’s Larew Testifies on Increasing Use of Biofuels Rob Larew, president of the National Farmers Union, testified before the Environmental Protection Agency during a hearing on the planned revision of the Light-Duty Vehicle GHG Emission Standard. As automakers refine vehicle technology, the increased use and development of biofuels represents an opportunity to reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from internal combustion engines. Higher ethanol levels not only increase engine productivity but also reduce criteria air pollutants and air toxics once they are fully deployed. NFU has long supported biofuels, such as E30, that can be realized in new and existing internal combustion engines. Larew told the EPA that biofuels are a vital component of this nation’s energy policy. “NFU has long urged the EPA to support rural Americans by promoting higher-level blends of ethanol as a cost-effective means of achieving required and improved octane levels,” Larew says. “We again ask EPA to acknowledge the potential for high octane, low carbon fuels, such as E30, to reduce GHG emissions from light-duty vehicles.” Larew also reminded the EPA that the agency must also consider the economic benefits of the increased use of mid-level ethanol blends as a high octane, low carbon, cost-effective fuel will bring to struggling rural communities while also benefitting consumers. *********************************************************************************** Farmer Optimism, the Supply Chain, and How They Affect Tractor, Combine Sales In the second quarter of 2021, money that had been diverted by COVID-19 from travel and other activities into the small tractor market began to return to normal use. Sustained gains in commodity prices, however, have resulted in farmers continuing their buying sprees for larger tractors and harvesters, as shown in AEM’s monthly Ag Tractor and Combine reports. The under-40 horsepower tractor market has softened a bit compared with the big numbers from last year,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Service for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. “However, row crop tractors sales have performed well in the second quarter.” He also says the numbers are positive for articulated four-wheel-drive tractors, and even combines are showing “signs of life.” The biggest drivers behind the big-ticket equipment sales are the higher than usual commodity prices and farmer confidence that those prices are going to stay there for a while. However, the supply chain, especially when it comes to the availability of semiconductors, is restricting the available inventory of equipment across all segments. Total tractor inventory at the end of the second quarter of this year is down more than 37 percent compared to the same time last year. Blades notes the association is doing everything possible to help the industry get machines to dealer lots as quickly as possible. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Soy Crop Quality Report Issued U.S. Soy and Pro Farmer teamed up for the 2021 U.S. Soy Crop Quality Report. The crop looks good right now, but without moisture, that could fall in some areas. That report comes from Chip Flory, editorial director with Pro Farmer. He presented the results to hundreds of global customers during the U.S. Soy Global Trade Exchange and Specialty Grains Conference. Fields across much of the U.S. have good stands, but Flory says the pod counts weren’t there when they got out into the fields for the Pro Farmer Crop Tour. However, it’s not pod counts that lead to yield, but rather it’s how they fill out. Illinois took the top spot on the crop tour with an average of 1,279.8 pods in a 3X3 foot area. South Dakota set the low mark at an average of 996.9 pods. The report also says that many bean fields are at a critical stage and in need of rain. With rains in the next couple of weeks, those pods could easily fill out. However, if beans stay dry, they will lose pod fill. Meanwhile, the USDA says the average Illinois yield should be 64 bushels an acre, up from 59 bushels a year ago, and Iowa yields will be at 58 bushels an acre, up from 53 bushels last year. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Increasing Sugar Imports to Cover Domestic Shortfall The U.S. government says it is increasing the lower-tariff sugar import quota for the fiscal year 2021 by 90,100 tons. Reuters says the goal is to increase the short-term supply on the domestic market. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office says it would allow this additional volume to enter the country until October 31, a month later than the usual cutoff. The U.S. fiscal year finishes at the end of September. With the addition to the Tariff Rate Quota, or TRQ, the total volume of sugar entering the U.S. at a lower tariff will rise to 1.2 million tons. That’s more than the 1.1 million tons the U.S. committed to within the World Trade Organization rules. It’s the second move from the U.S. government on sugar import quotas in the last two months. In July, it reallocated part of the TRQ import quotas to other countries because some of the original license holders failed to deliver their products. The Dominican Republic will get the largest share of the additional low-tariff quota at 19,000 tons, followed by Brazil and Australia. The increase comes as sugar futures on the U.S. domestic market are at their highest level in nine years.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 27, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. personal incomes and spending in July is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. At 9 a.m. CDT, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell will address the Jackson Hole economic symposium and the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index will be released at the same time. Traders will continue to keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and watch for any news from the Environmental Protection Agency or news pertaining to export sales. Weather Batches of heavy rain were noted early Friday morning across the eastern Dakotas and Upper Midwest and are forecast to continue developing throughout the day, which may cause flooding in drought-afflicted areas. Additional showers are expected to develop from eastern Colorado into western Iowa and across Montana and the western Dakotas late this afternoon and evening and could be severe. Hot temperatures continue to stress the final fill stages south of this zone of showers.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 26, 2021 |


USDA Establishes Dairy Donation Program Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh (Bruh-NAW) Wednesday announced the establishment of a $400 million Dairy Donation Program. The program aims to facilitate timely dairy product donations while reducing food waste. The establishment of DDP is part of the $6 billion pandemic assistance USDA announced in March and follows last week's announcement of the $350 million Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program for dairy farmers. Under the DDP, eligible dairy organizations will partner with non-profit feeding organizations that distribute food to individuals and families in need. Those partnerships may apply for and receive reimbursements to cover some expenses related to eligible dairy product donations. The program was inspired in part by the donations made by Michigan Milk Producers Association in conjunction with the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in response to the Flint water crisis. Deputy Secretary Bronaugh says, “Together we can help someone in need, minimize food waste and support the U.S. dairy industry.” *********************************************************************************** USDA to Invest $50 Million in New Cooperative Agreements for Racial Justice and Equity The Department of Agriculture is investing up to $50 million in cooperative agreements to support historically underserved farmers and ranchers with climate-smart agriculture and forestry. The Racial Justice and Equity Conservation Cooperative Agreements are available to entities for two-year projects that expand the delivery of conservation assistance to farmers who are beginning, limited resource, socially disadvantaged, and veteran farmers. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Chief Terry Cosby says, "USDA is committed to revising programs to be more equitable, and these producers deserve our support as they contribute to our vibrant and diverse agricultural communities." The projects should help historically underserved farmers and ranchers implement natural resources conservation practices that improve soil health and water quality, provide habitat for local wildlife species of concern, and improve working agricultural land's environmental and economic performance. Entities that provide outreach assistance to historically underserved groups are eligible to apply for the funding. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Wheat Associates Welcomes Suspension of Vietnam Wheat Import Tariff U.S. Wheat Associates applauds USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service for their work alongside Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance to reduce the cost of wheat for Vietnam’s millers and consumers. Vice President Kamala Harris announced Vietnam will reduce or eliminate import tariffs on several U.S. commodities, including wheat. The tariff suspensions are expected to be implemented soon. It will also help make U.S. wheat more competitive in Vietnam’s growing wheat market. Like many countries this year, Vietnam has seen significant food and feed price inflation due to the rise in global commodity prices and COVID impacts on supply chains. The newly announced reduction follows one from July 2020, when Vietnam reduced its tariff on imported U.S. wheat, excluding durum, from five percent to three percent. Despite the tariffs, Vietnam’s imports of U.S. hard red winter, soft white and hard red winter wheat exceeded 500,000 metric tons in marketing year 2020/21, second in volume only to Australia. *********************************************************************************** Lawmakers Ask U.S. Ambassador to Iraq to Support U.S. Wheat Sales to Iraq Republican Senators call on U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller ( too-lur) help Iraq purchase wheat. Four Senators joined Roger Marshall of Kansas in signing the letter, Senators John Boozman of Arkansas, Jerry Moran of Kansas, John Cornyn of Texas, and James Inhofe of Oklahoma. The lawmakers specifically ask Ambassador Tueller to engage in the wheat tendering process and for the U.S. State Department to offer additional assistance to the Iraqis to purchase U.S. wheat. From the time a tender is issued, it takes nearly three months for wheat to arrive in the country. The letter states, "Wheat purchases by Iraq require multiple ministries working in tandem, which is where we are hopeful your outreach to them can be helpful." The letter cites smaller than expected harvest and lower government procurement of local, which means Iraq will need to import a substantial volume of wheat to continue to operate their primary subsidized feeding program, the Public Distribution System. *********************************************************************************** NFU Welcomes New Guidance on Enforcement of Packers and Stockyards Act Provision USDA this week issued a guidance document on how the department will enforce the final rule on "Undue and Unreasonable Preferences and Advantages" under the Packers and Stockyards Act. The guidance comes as USDA composes new rules to bring fairness to the marketplace for farmers and ranchers. National Farmers Union strongly supports strengthening the Packers and Stockyards Act to protect livestock producers from unfair treatment and practices by meatpackers and integrators. In response, NFU President Rob Larew states, “We welcome USDA’s newly released guidance, which demonstrates a further commitment to strong enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act.” USDA says the proposed rules will strengthen the department’s enforcement of unfair and deceptive practices and undue preferences, address the poultry grower tournament system, and make it easier for USDA to bring enforcement actions under the Act. And, USDA says the enforcement policy commits USDA to defend farmers to the maximum extent possible. *********************************************************************************** EPA Announces Resources to Better Address Nutrient Pollution Affecting Waters The Environmental Protection Agency this week released new resources to address adverse effects of nutrient pollution in waters, including algae blooms. The three new resources will help EPA’s co-regulators and partners better protect waters from the effects of nutrient pollution. The three resources include the agency’s Final Recommended Nutrient Criteria for Lakes and Reservoirs, a web-based tool with information and tracking of harmful algal blooms. EPA has published revised recommended ambient water quality criteria under the Clean Water Act to help address nutrient pollution in lakes and reservoirs. EPA says the new criteria will help protect drinking water sources, recreational uses, and aquatic life in our nation’s lakes and reservoirs. EPA has also published a new ArcGIS StoryMap that will allow the public to learn about and track reported cyanobacteria (sy-an-no) in freshwaters across the country. Finally, the EPA has published a Final Technical Support Document for co-regulators such as states, territories and tribes to protect swimmers from two cyanobacterial toxins produced by harmful algal blooms.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 26, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly report of export sales is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, an estimate of U.S. GDP for the second quarter and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventories is set for 9:30 a.m. Traders remain interested in the latest weather forecasts and any export news that arises. Weather Thursday is shaping up to be very active across the Dakotas and into the Upper Midwest. Heavy rainfall is forecast to increase throughout the day and there may be some severe weather as well. Rainfall may provide some late benefit to filling corn and soybeans but should help to ease the drought as well. To the south of this zone of rain, it will remain hot and humid, stressing the end of the fill period for crops.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 25, 2021 |


USDA Updates CFAP 2.0 for Poultry and Specialty Crop Producers The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2, or CFAP 2, funds for contract livestock producers and specialty crop growers. CFAP 2 assists producers who faced market disruptions in 2020 due to COVID-19. USDA announced $1 billion is available through the program to contract producers of eligible livestock and poultry for revenue losses in 2020. USDA expanded coverage to include chickens, poultry eggs, turkeys, hogs and pigs, ducks, geese, pheasants and quail, including eligible breeding stock and eggs of all eligible poultry types produced under contract. USDA now also allows contract producers to use eligible revenue from 2018 or 2019 to prove losses compared with 2020 revenue. USDA also announced it is amending the CFAP 2 payment calculation for several commodities by allowing farmers to substitute 2018 sales for 2019 sales. Sign-up for CFAP 2 was re-opened in March and remains open. All new and modified CFAP 2 applications are due by October 12. *********************************************************************************** USDA On Track to Provide Record Support for Rural Working Capital USDA Rural Development undersecretary Justin Maxson says the department of Agriculture is on track to provide record support of rural working capital in the current fiscal year. USDA has invested $1.2 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses in 41 states, Guam and the Virgin Islands. The investments made through the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program and the Business and Industry CARES Act Program are expected to create or save more than 12,000 jobs for people in rural areas. USDA has invested $811 million through the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program since the start of the current fiscal year. The assistance has helped businesses create or save more than 6,000 jobs in rural areas. USDA also invested $380 million in rural businesses through the Business and Industry CARES Act Program. Maxson states, “USDA remains committed to helping rural businesses create job opportunities so rural Americans can build back better and stronger than ever before.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces Proposed Framework for Advancing Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 The Department of Agriculture is dedicating $300 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to conduct surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging and zoonotic diseases. The effort aimed at susceptible animals includes building an early warning system to alert public health partners to potential threats so they can take steps sooner to prevent or limit the next global pandemic. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is the lead agency responsible for implementing the early warning system. The framework outlines how the agency will focus its efforts to prevent, detect, investigate and respond to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and other emerging and zoonotic diseases that could pose a threat to both people and animals. Establishing an early warning system will require a multi-year effort. USDA will build upon its existing infrastructure to implement a risk-based, comprehensive, integrated disease monitoring and surveillance system domestically, and enhance collaboration internationally. *********************************************************************************** Senators Urge EPA to Waive Biofuel Blending Requirements A Group of 17 Republican Senators call on the Environmental Protection Agency to waive or significantly reduce volume requirements for 2020, and set the upcoming 2021 and 2022 renewable fuel obligations “at levels that reflect reality.” In a letter to the EPA, the lawmakers state, “Obligated parties subject to the onerous requirements of the RFS have been facing historically high compliance costs, which threaten the viability of these entities’ continued operations.” The senators continued, “We urge EPA to take action to reduce RFS compliance costs in order to avert additional financial hardship for consumers and protect the continued viability of U.S. refineries.” Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper responds to the letter, stating it “just rehashes the same tired arguments that have been disproven time and time again.” Cooper says “anti-ethanol” Senators are “circling the wagons to protect the status quo for Big Oil and continuing their efforts to undermine cleaner, greener renewable fuels.” *********************************************************************************** Colorado Senator Launches Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act Promotion Tour Colorado Senator Michael Bennet Tuesday launched a promotion tour in Colorado for his Outdoor Restoration Partnership Act. The two-day tour, according to the Democratic Senator, shows the need to include the legislation in the Build Back Better Budget. The bill would invest $60 billion in forests and watersheds. Bennet first introduced this proposal in December that he says will provide direct support to local, collaborative efforts to restore habitat, expand outdoor access, and mitigate wildfire. Reintroducing the bill earlier this year, Bennet stated, “For too long, Congress has failed to meaningfully invest in our western lands, undermining our economy and way of life.” Bennet says the bill will generate over $156 billion in economic output, with a return of up to $15 for every dollar spent on restoration, while upgrading natural infrastructure. The proposal has bipartisan support, and a companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by lawmakers from Colorado and Idaho. *********************************************************************************** Beck's Hybrids Acquires Bayer Facility in Iowa Beck's Hybrids this week announced the purchase of a Bayer processing plant in Beaman, Iowa, for soybean production and processing. The fully operational site will provide Beck's with soybean seed processing capabilities and additional warehousing. Beck's CEO Sonny Beck says, "This new facility will allow Beck's to maximize efficiency, stay ahead of demand, and deliver products faster." Ten former Bayer employees were hired by Beck's to continue operations at the facility. The facility features approximately 30,000 square feet of warehousing and is configured with modern equipment necessary for Beck's to process and treat one million units of soybeans per year. In addition to the facility in Beaman, Beck's has three other locations in Iowa. As the largest family-owned retail seed company in the United States, Beck's has seen tremendous growth over several decades and has doubled in size in the past six years alone. Today, Beck's is the third-largest corn and soybean brand in the United States.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 25, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. durable goods orders in July is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by the Energy Department's weekly inventory report at 9:30 a.m. Traders will keep an eye on the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. to see if USDA has another export sale announcement. Weather A frontal boundary across the Corn Belt will remain active on Wednesday and could contain more severe weather due to the high heat and humidity south of the front. The heat is likely to be stressful where showers do not occur, but most areas south of the front have adequate soil moisture for filling crops with some exceptions, mainly in the Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 24, 2021 |


USDA Accepts 2.8 Million Acres for the Conservation Reserve Program The Department of Agriculture has accepted 2.8 million acres in offers for enrollment into the Conservation Reserve Program in 2021. This year, almost 1.9 million acres in offers have been accepted through the General CRP Signup, and USDA’s Farm Service Agency has accepted over 897,000 acres for enrollment through the Continuous Signup. The Continuous Signup remains open, and CRP Grasslands Signup closed last week, so USDA expects to enroll more acres into all of CRP than the three million acres that are expiring. Despite Congress raising the enrollment target in the 2018 farm bill, there have been decreases in enrollment for the past two years. USDA made changes this spring to reverse the trend. FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-shu-know) says, “Even with the improved direction, USDA will still be about 4 million acres below the enrollment target.” The four million-acre shortfall in CRP would represent A loss of 1.5 million acres of quality wildlife and pollinator less habitat for wildlife. *********************************************************************************** EPA Proposing to Lower RFS Blending Requirements for 2021 The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to urge the White House to lower biofuel blending mandates below 2020 levels. However, the proposal will increase renewable volume obligations in 2022. EPA is sending the proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget. Reuters first reported the proposed RVO levels Friday, as sources say the EPA is looking to align mandates with actual production levels, which have slumped during the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the 2021 mandates are more than a year and a half delayed and were supposed to be released in November 2020, by the Trump administration. The mandate outlines the required amount of biofuels refiners must blend in their fuels. Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, released a reaction statement last week. Grassley says, “If the reports are true, then once again, the EPA is giving a gift to Big Oil and is playing games with the Renewable Fuel Standard law.” *********************************************************************************** U.S. Keeping Canada Border Closed Through September 21 The U.S. Homeland Security Department recently announced the continued closure of the U.S.-Canada border through September 21, citing COVID-19 concerns. The closure includes restrictions on non-essential travel at land and ferry crossings with Canada and Mexico but ensures the flow of essential trade and travel. Meanwhile, Canada opened the border earlier this month to non-essential travelers from the United States, and Canada boasts higher vaccination rates than the United States. U.S. Representative Brian Higgins, a Democrat from New York, serves as co-chair of both the Northern Border Caucus and the Canada – U.S. Interparliamentary Group. Higgins states, “There has not been enough attention placed on the value and opportunity that comes with restoring connections between our two nations.” Travel restrictions at land ports of entry between the United States and Canada were first implemented in March 2020. Higgins adds the extension “is beyond disappointing; it is hurtful both at a human and economic level.” *********************************************************************************** Rep. Bustos Visits Illinois Hog Farm, Tax, Labor Reform Discussed U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos visited with Illinois hog farmers and the Illinois Pork Producers Association last week. The Illinois Democrat discussed the upcoming budget reconciliation package and potential areas of concern to pork producers. During a farm visit, producers shared concerns with the possible elimination of the “step-up in basis,” as well as a new capital gains tax event at death. Additionally, producers discussed the need to reform the H-2A visa program, noting the severe shortfalls in available domestic labor. A recently updated Iowa State University study found that despite competitive wages and an expanding workforce, the U.S. pork industry continues to struggle with a labor shortage. The pork industry uses the H-2A visa program for specialized work, but cannot use the program for most labor needs because of its seasonal limitation. The National Pork Producers Council urges Congress to provide year-round access to the H-2A visa program without a cap. *********************************************************************************** First Giant Hornet Nest of 2021 Found in Washington State Agriculture officials found the first giant hornet nest of 2021 last week in Washington state. The nest, located near Blaine, Washington, is about a quarter-mile away from the first reported giant hornet spotting this year on August 11. A Washington state tracking team, along with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, located the nest. WSDA netted, tagged with a tracker and released three hornets. One hornet slipped out of the tracking device, another hornet was never located, and one eventually led the team to the nest. Entomologists will now develop their plans to eradicate the nest, happening this week. Asian giant hornets, also known as murder hornets, are not native to the United States. They are the world’s largest hornet and prey on honeybees and other insects. This is the first known nest found this year, and agriculture officials in the Pacific Northwest believe more are undiscovered. *********************************************************************************** Fuel Prices Continue Slide The nation's average gas price declined for the second straight week, down 3.3 cents per gallon from a week ago to $3.14 per gallon. The national average now stands unchanged from a month ago and $1.01 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel is down 0.9 cents in the last week and stands at $3.27 per gallon. Gas Buddy's Patrick De Haan states, “Gasoline prices have started to slide over the last few days as oil prices have plunged, largely fueled by a continued global surge in COVID-19.” De Haan also notes concerns that fuel demand may shrink as more companies table return to work plans and the summer driving season comes to a close, and he expects the national average gas price to fall below $3 per gallon within the next few weeks. While Covid cases may eventually slow, OPEC has continued its plan to ramp up oil production every month until 2022, leaving oil under heavy selling pressure.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 24, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders will be watching the latest forecasts and for any signs of export sales. Tuesday's only official report is for U.S. new home sales in July, due out at 9 a.m. CDT. The market is also interested in any news that might develop pertaining to a change in biofuels policy. Weather Clusters of storms over Minnesota will continue to move southeast this morning and more development is expected across the general vicinity later today as another system moves through the region. The active track across the north continues to produce rainfall. It may be too late for some to provide much help, but will help to ease the drought in the region for sure. South of the storms, heat and dryness will continue to stress filling crops.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 20, 2021 |


USDA Announces Improvements to the Dairy Safety Net The Department of Agriculture Announced details of the Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program Thursday. Through the program, USDA will provide $350 million in pandemic assistance payments to dairy farmers who received a lower value for their products due to market abnormalities caused by the pandemic. The assistance is part of a larger package, including permanent improvements to the Dairy Margin Coverage safety net program. USDA will contact eligible handlers and cooperatives to notify them of the opportunity to participate in the program. USDA will distribute payments to participating handlers within 60 days of entering into an agreement. The program is part of the $6 billion pandemic assistance USDA announced in March. Outside the pandemic assistance, USDA will also make improvements to the Dairy Margin Coverage safety net program updating the feed cost formula. The change will be retroactive to January 2020 and is expected to provide additional retroactive payments of about $100 million for 2020 and 2021. *********************************************************************************** USDA Invests $26 Million in Biofuel Infrastructure The Department of Agriculture will invest $26 million to build infrastructure to expand the availability of higher-blend renewable biofuels by 822 million gallons annually in 23 states. Announced Thursday, USDA is making the awards under the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The funding will help increase the use of biofuels derived from U.S. agricultural products and prioritize climate-smart solutions, according to USDA. The announcement marks the one-year anniversary of the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. National Biodiesel Board’s Kurt Kovarik says, “Updating America's infrastructure to expand consumer access to low-carbon biodiesel and Bioheat fuel is a low-cost, high-return investment in meeting the nation's goals for near-term carbon reductions.” NBB adds that Biodiesel reduces carbon emissions on average by 74 percent and considerably cuts particulate matter and other criteria pollutant emissions. The combined projects will reduce the nation's carbon emissions by more than 7.2 million metric tons each year at a cost of less than $2.25 per ton. *********************************************************************************** EPA Chlorpyrifos Rule Revokes Crop Tolerances on Food and Animal Feed The Environmental Protection Agency announced this week it is revoking all “tolerances” for chlorpyrifos (Klohr-PEER-uh-fohs), which establish an amount of a pesticide that is allowed on food. The agency will issue a Notice of Intent to Cancel under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to cancel registered food uses of chlorpyrifos. EPA officials say the move “will help to ensure children, farmworkers, and all people are protected.” According to EPA's decision, growers must discontinue use of chlorpyrifos on registered food crops within six months. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duval responded, “This administration has repeatedly made commitments to abide by science, yet the EPA decision on chlorpyrifos strays from that commitment and takes away an important tool to manage pests and insects.” And Agricultural Retailers Association President and CEO Daren Coppock states, “By issuing this mandate, and EPA not fighting it, anti-pesticide activists have executed an end run around the statute that is supposed to govern these decisions.” *********************************************************************************** New Website Offers Regenerative Agriculture Resources The University of Missouri Thursday announced a new website focused on regenerative agriculture topics. Regenerative agriculture has sparked considerable interest over the last few years, offering a toolbox of practices that aim to increase soil health, protect water quality, and enhance conservation approaches on farms. Major food and agriculture companies such as General Mills, Bayer, Walmart, Cargill, Corteva, Pepsico, Unilever, and even clothing companies like Wrangler have recently prioritized regenerative agricultural practices. The website aims to allow farmers, landowners, farm advisors, and even consumers to access a wide range of information on regenerative agriculture practices and concepts. Kelly Wilson of the Center for Regenerative Agriculture states, “The new site offers resources for different levels of expertise, so that different people can learn about practices and target outcomes associated with regenerative agriculture.” Visit the website at cra.missouri.edu and sign up for the Center’s newsletter to receive monthly updates on what’s happening in regenerative agriculture. *********************************************************************************** AgriSafe Launches New Website to Support Safety for Farmers and Ranchers The AgriSafe Network recently launched a new website focused on health topics for farmers and ranchers. The website, announced Thursday, integrates AgriSafe’s learning management system that includes fact sheets, webinars, and safety information for health professionals with health topics. The Health Topics page of the website is designed to help farmers and ranchers navigate occupational risks and servers as a trusted and reliable information on health and safety issues. Additionally, the website includes a “Learning Opportunities” section which features content produced by AgriSafe for health and safety professionals and rural healthcare providers. An AgriSafe spokesperson states, “This new space serves as a hub for the people working in agriculture to find specific information to their needs.” Agriculture ranks among the most hazardous industries, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. AgriSafe represents health and safety professionals who strive to reduce health disparities found among the agricultural community. For more information, visit www.agrisafe.org. *********************************************************************************** Farm Journal Acquires United Pork Americas Farm Journal this week acquired the international United Pork Americas conference and trade show. For the past two decades, more than 150,000 international swine producers, veterinarians and industry stakeholders have experienced the event, Pork Expo Brazil. An extension of Pork Expo Brazil, the United Pork Americas conference, is set for April 19-21, 2022, at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando, Florida. Farm Journal’s Cliff Becker states, “We're excited to invest in the tools that pork industry stakeholders need to prosper in an ever-increasing global environment.” The United Pork Americas conference will feature an educational component with more than 50 internationally renowned speakers and sessions to provide educational opportunities for swine producers, veterinarians and industry stakeholders. It also will feature more than 28,000 square feet of Expo space, where domestic and international swine companies will have booths in an expansive trade show format to bring applicable information and resources to every facet of the pork production system.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 20, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets After Thursday's broad-based selling across the commodity board, traders may be a little jumpy and will be watching for any news of coronavirus infections and how it relates to numerous shipping problems currently occurring. The latest weather forecasts remain important with rain headed to the northwestern Midwest. USDA's August 1 cattle on-feed report at 2 p.m. CDT is the only significant report scheduled for Friday. Weather A system pulling out of the Rockies will continue to produce scattered showers and thunderstorms across the Western Corn Belt Friday, benefiting filling corn and soybeans. Some of these storms may be severe as well. Hot temperatures ahead of the system are falling rapidly behind it. More showers and thunderstorms will be possible across the South and Southeast as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 19, 2021 |


USDA Reports on Farm Computer Usage and Ownership The Department of Agriculture Wednesday released the 2021 Farm Computer Usage and Ownership report. The report is conducted every other year and presents data on farm computer usage, including computer access, ownership or leasing, farm business use, and internet access. The findings show that 82 percent of farms reported having access to the internet, with 98 percent paying for access. In 2021, 29 percent of farms used the internet to purchase agricultural inputs, which increased five percent from 2019. Additionally, 21 percent of farms used the internet to market agricultural activities, increasing two percent from 2019. In 2021, 50 percent of internet-connected farms utilized a broadband connection, while 70 percent of internet-connected farms had access through a cellular data plan. Additionally, 67 percent of farms had a desktop or laptop computer, while 77 percent of farms had a smartphone. USDA collected the data as part of the June Agricultural Survey. *********************************************************************************** Steakhouses Struggling to Recover from COVID-19 Steakhouses are struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic as the Delta variant of the virus expands, and beef prices are moving higher. Top steakhouses that provide a dining experience and high-priced cuts of beef see the Delta variant as a possible threat to travelers and group events. Several chains say they are better prepared amid the pandemic this year since adding outdoor dining and home delivery, should the latest surge or new government restrictions scare diners away again, according to Reuters. However, sales at high-end chains peaked last month before falling slightly to start August. Meanwhile, government data shows wholesale beef prices are up 40 percent from this time last year. Industry consultant Martin Knapp told Reuters, "We won't get the lift we had expected before the magnitude of the Delta variant came through.” However, the potential of booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine could help as soon as next month. *********************************************************************************** Groups Ask Lowe’s, Home Depot to Pull Roundup from Shelves A coalition of consumer, health and environmental groups call on Lowe’s and Home Depot to remove Roundup from store shelves. The groups, including Friend of the Earth, claim consumers can’t wait, urging the stores to remove the products now. Bayer last month announced long-term risk mitigation actions to prevent further litigation regarding Roundup. The plan calls for replacing its glyphosate-based products in the U.S. residential lawn and garden market with new formulations that rely on alternative active ingredients beginning in 2023. Bayer’s decision only applies to consumer markets, as the company will continue selling glyphosate-based formulas for agricultural and professional use. Bayer also asked the Supreme Court to review the Ninth Circuit Hardeman decision this week. The Petition states that the Ninth Circuit’s lenient standard “has distorted [existing law] beyond recognition, and blurs the boundaries between science and speculation with a third category called ‘art,’ or unsupported intuitions purportedly rooted in clinical experience.” *********************************************************************************** Researchers Explore Climate, Human and Wildlife Interactions on Rangeland Researchers in the West are exploring the combined effect of wolves and drought, humans, plants and animals on rangeland in Idaho and Oregon. The University of Idaho is leading the five-year effort. Funded by a $1.6 million National Science Foundation grant, researchers will monitor six sites to learn how drought could affect vegetation in the region and how resulting changes impact elk, deer and livestock, as well as their interactions with predators. Scientists will also explore on a broad scale what effect wolves and drought jointly have on ranching communities. Researcher Sophie Gilbert states, "We'll look at the interactions between wolves and drought and how those affect wild ungulate populations, as well as livestock and the people who live there." The research also seeks to determine how decision-makers respond to these multiple sources of stress, and how wildlife and plant forecasting tools resulting from the project, are received and used by ranchers and wildlife managers. *********************************************************************************** USDA Accepting Applications to Help Cover Costs for Organic Certification Organic producers and handlers can now apply for Department of Agriculture funds to assist with the cost of receiving or maintaining organic certification. Applications for the Organic Certification Cost Share Program are due November 1, 2021. Announced this week, the funds provide cost-share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products for the costs of obtaining or maintaining organic certification under USDA’s National Organic Program. Eligible producers include any certified producers or handlers who have paid organic certification fees to a USDA-accredited certifying agent during 2021 and any subsequent program year. Producers can be reimbursed for expenses made between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021. For 2021, the program will reimburse 50 percent of a certified operation’s allowable certification costs, up to a maximum of $500 for each category of crops, wild crops, livestock, processing, and state program fees. Organic farmers and ranchers may apply through an FSA county office or a participating state agency. *********************************************************************************** Avoid Foodborne Illness During Temporary Power Outages USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is reminding consumers to avoid foodborne illnesses during temporary power outages. The agency Wednesday cited Department of Energy data that found weather-related power outages are up by 67 percent since 2000. With high temperatures this summer, energy consumption is high, which may cause some power grids to experience blackouts, an unexpected loss of power lasting minutes, hours or days. Electricity providers will either ask customers to voluntarily conserve energy at home, or they will schedule a reduced flow of electricity — a brownout — to certain areas of the grid to prevent a complete blackout. If your home experiences a temporary power outage, FSIS says monitor fridge and freezer temperatures. Make sure the refrigerator temperature is at 40 F or below and the freezer is at 0 F or below. Most fridges will keep food safe for up to four hours, while a freezer can keep food safe up to 48 hours.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 19, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. An index of U.S. leading indicators in July is set for 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly report on natural gas inventory at 9:30. USDA's monthly report on Milk Production will be out at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather In addition to scattered showers continuing around the South, a system is starting to move out of the Rockies and into the Northern Plains. This system is expected to produce fairly widespread showers on Thursday and Friday across the Western Corn Belt. All rainfall would be helpful for filling corn and soybeans.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 18, 2021 |


Biofuel and Farm Groups File Petition for Rehearing of D.C. Circuit RVP Decision Biofuel and farm groups filed a petition for rehearing with the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the recent American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers vs. EPA decision. The court decision vacated a 2019 regulation allowing year-round sales of a fifteen percent ethanol fuel blends. The petition asks the full court to rehear the case because of significant legal errors in the three-judge panel's decision, handed down on July 2. Announced Tuesday, Growth Energy, the National Corn Growers Association and the Renewable Fuels Association filed the petition. Together, the three national organizations stated, “If allowed to stand, this court’s decision to vacate EPA’s rulemaking to allow E15 to be sold year-round will have devastating consequences for the market expansion of homegrown biofuels.” The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a 2019 rule by the Environmental Protection Agency that lifted restrictions on the sale of E15. The case was a challenge by oil refiners to the rulemaking that allowed the year-round sale of E15. *********************************************************************************** Comment Period Closes on NCBA Product of USA Petition The comment period just closed on a petition to change "Product of USA" labeling to "Processed in the USA" by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. Comments closed Tuesday on the petition announced in June and submitted to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. NCBA calls “Product of USA” labeling “a disservice to American consumers and cattle producers alike,” suggesting the claim implies that a beef product is entirely of U.S. origin. Senator Mike Rounds, a Republican from South Dakota, charged a flurry of comments before the deadline, after announcing his opposition to the proposal, with several following comments supporting his take. In comments submitted Friday, Rounds states, "If FSIS adopts NCBA’s proposal, consumers would have to sacrifice knowing where their beef comes from only to merely know where their beef is processed.” Rounds, agreeing with NCBA the “Product of USA” label is misleading, adds the “Processed in the USA” label “woefully undermines the purpose of the label in the first place.” *********************************************************************************** Scott, Bishop, Asks USTR to Tackle EU Trade Barriers for Peanuts Top House Agriculture lawmakers want the U.S. Trade Representative's Office to resolve an issue regarding European Union aflatoxin testing in peanuts. House Agriculture Committee Chair David Scott and House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee Chair Sanford Bishop sent a letter on the matter to USTR this week. The Georgia lawmakers say the non-tariff trade barrier impacts"American peanut farmers and the entire U.S. peanut industry." Aflatoxin is a naturally occurring contaminant that affects a variety of crops, including peanuts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration established a maximum threshold for aflatoxin of 15 parts per billion for raw peanuts and 20 parts per billion for peanut products. However, the EU enforces an extra level of testing at European ports and maintains thresholds for aflatoxin that range from as low as two parts per billion to 15 parts per billion. The U.S. peanut industry estimates approximately $170 million in lost sales in recent years because of the strict testing requirements. *********************************************************************************** USDA Expanding Importation of Fresh Citrus Fruit from Australia The Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday the expansion of the production areas in Australia authorized to import fresh citrus fruit into the United States. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service also revised the conditions under which citrus from Australia may be imported. Currently, imports of fresh citrus fruit are allowed into the United States from three Australian regions, but the announcement adds three additional approved regions. APHIS scientists prepared a pest risk assessment and a commodity import evaluation document to identify phytosanitary measures to safely import citrus without introducing pests. The citrus fruit must either originate from an approved production area that is free of Queensland fruit fly, Mediterranean fruit fly, and/or Lesser Queensland fruit fly, or be treated with cold treatment or other approved treatment. Based on the findings of a pest risk analysis, APHIS determined that the application of one or more outlined phytosanitary measures will sufficiently mitigate the risks of plant pests and noxious weeds. *********************************************************************************** USDA Invests $69 Million to Support Critical Food and Nutrition Security Needs The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced a $69 million investment to address the food and nutrition needs of low-income communities. Twenty awards totaling $61.5 million are for Nutrition Incentive Grants, and 15 awards totaling $7.5 million are for Produce Prescription Grants. The grants are all part of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture's Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program COVID Relief and Response grants program. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states the funding "will help households in communities across the country, many hard-hit by the pandemic and the resulting economic challenges, be better equipped to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables.” USDA says the funding also enhances the resilience of food and healthcare systems impacted by the pandemic. As part of the funding, California’s Nutrition Incentive Program will receive $6.3 million to help Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program participants purchase fresh and healthy food. And Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation in Kentucky will receive $619,000 to provide SNAP participants extra incentives to purchase fresh produce. *********************************************************************************** Haaland, Vilsack, Announce New Pay Initiatives for Wildland Firefighters Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Tuesday announced the implementation of President Biden’s pay initiatives to support federal wildland firefighters. The initiatives will increase the amount paid to approximately 3,500 firefighters with the Department of the Interior and more than 11,300 firefighters at the USDA Forest Service to ensure all firefighters are paid at least $15 an hour. Secretary Vilsack states, “Supporting our brave firefighters with pay, benefits and career opportunities that reflect the importance and danger of the work that they do is critical to facing the mounting wildfire threat.” Interior currently employs roughly 5,000 wildland firefighters across the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service. Approximately 3,500 of those employees will receive $7.6 million under these initiatives. The USDA Forest Service employs 14,500 wildland firefighters and, under these initiatives, more than 11,300 will receive an additional $24.3 million.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 18, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets We will have housing starts and the Federal Open Market Committee minutes out after the close. Trade will also be watching for updated Corn Belt weather forecasts and more soybean purchases by China. Weather Scattered showers will continue across the south Wednesday. Moderate to heavy rain is also moving through the eastern Midwest in association with the remnants of Fred. Hot and humid weather will continue to be the theme for the Western Corn Belt for another day while a storm that will bring relief builds in the Rockies. The heat will continue to negatively impact filling corn and soybeans where drought exists.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 17, 2021 |


USDA Updates SNAP Benefits The Department of Agriculture Monday released a re-evaluation of the Thrifty Food Plan, used to calculate Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP benefits. As a result, the average SNAP benefit – excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief – will increase more than 20 percent for Fiscal Year 2022. As directed by Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill, and with the expressed support of President Biden’s January 22 Executive Order – USDA conducted a review of the Thrifty Food Plan. The resulting cost adjustment is the first time the purchasing power of the plan has changed since it was first introduced in 1975, reflecting notable shifts in the food marketplace and consumers’ circumstances. The evaluation concluded that the cost of a nutritious, practical, cost-effective diet is 21 percent higher than the current Thrifty Food Plan. As a result, the average SNAP benefit, excluding additional funds provided as part of pandemic relief, will increase by $36.24 per person, per month. *********************************************************************************** Vilsack, Tai, Meet with Ag Policy Advisory Committee Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai released a statement following a meeting with the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee last week. Ambassador Tai detailed how the Biden-Harris Administration’s trade agenda aligns with the objectives of the agricultural sector. The Ambassador discussed how USTR is working to support the ability of U.S. agricultural producers to expand access to foreign markets and a new customer base, according to the statement. Secretary Vilsack emphasized the importance of promoting exports and finding new overseas markets, and that agricultural trade is tied to the health of rural economies. Vilsack provided an overview of priorities, including trade with China, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement implementation, and trade with the EU. The Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee is managed jointly by the Department of Agriculture and USTR. The committee includes various leaders of commodity and farm groups and agribusiness organizations, focused on ensuring U.S. trade policy and trade negotiating objectives reflect U.S. public- and private-sector interests. *********************************************************************************** Shipments of Plant-Based Proteins to Pizza Restaurants up 56 Percent Pizza has repeatedly ranked in the top foods ordered at U.S. restaurants. According to The NPD Group, in the quarter ending June 2021, there were 1.2 billion servings of pizza ordered, up four percent from the same quarter last year. Units of plant-based protein and ingredients shipped from foodservice distributors to pizza operators increased by 56 percent in the second quarter compared to a year ago, reports NPD. Research shows that about 20 percent of consumers want to increase the amount of plant-based proteins they consume, and this sentiment has held steady throughout the pandemic. Pizzas enable chefs and operators to easily customize with plant-based ingredients beginning with cauliflower crusts. Shipments of cauliflower dough and crusts to pizza operators increased by 46 percent in the quarter ending June compared to the same quarter year ago. Unit shipments of plant-based proteins to pizza operators, like Italian sausage, chicken, and imitation beef, grew by double-digits in the quarter. *********************************************************************************** Fuel Prices Ease as Oil Falls The nation’s average gas price declined 0.5 cents per gallon from a week ago to $3.17 per gallon, while the average price of diesel fell a penny in the last week and stands at $3.28 per gallon. The average gas price is unchanged from a month ago and $1.01 per gallon higher than a year ago. Gas Buddy’s Patrick De Haan states, “As the number of Covid cases continues to surge globally, oil prices continue to be under pressure due to some countries instituting travel and movement limitations,” as oil has continued to see heavy selling pressure. With the U.S. summer driving season ending and with additional high-profile companies delaying their return-to-office plans, there is some level of anxiety that fuel demand will trail off into the autumn as OPEC continues to raise oil production, leading prices to crumble. U.S. retail gasoline demand fell slightly after reaching its highest level of 2021 last week. *********************************************************************************** Farm Credit’s Commitment to Young, Beginning and Small Farmers Grew in 2020 Farm Credit institutions increased their support of young, beginning and small farmers and ranchers across the country in 2020. The Farm Credit Administration reported the increase last week. In 2020, Farm Credit made 65,800 loans to producers whose age was less than 36 years, compared to 49,100 in 2019 and 46,680 in 2018. Similarly, the dollar amount of loans outstanding to young farmers grew to $33.6 billion at yearend 2020 compared to $31 billion at yearend 2019. Over the past three years, Farm Credit made more than 160,000 loans to young agricultural producers for $33.7 billion. Meanwhile, over the past three years, Farm Credit made nearly a quarter of a million loans to ag producers with ten years or less of experience to help them get started in production agriculture. And, at the end of 2020, nearly half, 49.8 percent, of all loans outstanding in the Farm Credit System were to ag producers with less than $250,000 in farm sales. *********************************************************************************** 2022 Farmers' Almanac Released This Week The 2022 Farmers' Almanac hits store shelves this week and contains 184 pages of helpful tips, calendars, and guides to help you plan your year ahead. It also features weather forecasts for the next 16 months, plus useful advice on ways to take cues from nature to live a more sustainable lifestyle. editor Pete Geiger states, “we encourage readers to take time to head outdoors and reconnect with the environment by growing their own food, shopping locally, and using natural remedies whenever possible." But even though "farmers" is in the title, the publication reaches far beyond them. The Almanac and its readers have evolved. No longer does the Farmers' Almanac contain husbandry tips for farm animals, but it does suggest the best days to cut your hair and lawn to increase growth, quit a bad habit, grow basil, and brew beer. Learn more online at FarmersAlmanac.com

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 17, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. retail sales for July is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday, followed by July industrial production at 8:15 a.m. Traders will be watching the latest weather forecasts and considering Monday afternoon's Crop Progress numbers. Traders will also watch to see if there is a ninth consecutive soybean export sale announcement at 8 a.m. CDT. Weather Tropical Depression Fred and its eventual remnant low will bring heavy rainfall to the Southeast Tuesday. More scattered showers will be found along the southern tier of the country as well as the eastern tier. Hot and dry weather continues in the Northern Plains as a system builds into the Rockies. The region will have to wait until Thursday to see relief from the heat and dryness.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 16, 2021 |


Farmland Values Soar in Chicago Fed District Despite COVID-19 Strong commodity prices and continued government assistance are pushing farmland values up by 14 percent in the Central Midwest and 10 percent in the Central Plains. An Illinois farm banker surveyed by the Chicago Fed says, “Government payments have given a boost to the ag sector.” In its quarterly ag newsletter, the Chicago Fed says farmland values in the Seventh District climbed 14 percent on a year-over-year basis in the second quarter of 2021, their largest gain in eight years. Values are expected to climb even higher during the third quarter of the year because seven of every ten bankers are forecasting higher District farmland values during the July through September period this year, while 30 percent forecast stable values. The values for “good” agricultural land moved three percent higher in the second quarter, according to a survey of 152 bankers in the district. All five district states in the Chicago survey showed double-digit year-over-year gains in their agricultural land values, even though too few Michigan bankers responded to the survey to report a numerical change in farmland value. *********************************************************************************** Court Partially Upholds Iowa’s “Ag-Gag” Law A divided panel of judges partially upheld Iowa’s ‘ag-gag” law first put in place in 2012. The Des Moines Register says that decision came last week at the same time a coalition of animal rights groups filed another lawsuit challenging a follow-up law that passed in 2021. Iowa has now passed four state statutes that target animal rights activists who are working to publish videos and pictures from inside large livestock facilities, often after getting hired there as employees. The laws created criminal offenses for people who “obtain access to an agriculture production facility by false pretenses” or “makes a false statement or representation” in the course of an employment application if the person intends to commit any unauthorized actions like videotaping if they get hired. The 2012 law was the first to pass and was immediately challenged in court by several organizations, including Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. Three more laws passed in Iowa after that, with the most recent one going into effect in April. The new lawsuit filed by many of the same organizations challenging the first three laws seeks to strike down the fourth law too. *********************************************************************************** Legislation Designed to Improve Livestock Assistance North Dakota Republican John Hoeven and Montana Democrat Jon Tester introduced bipartisan legislation in the Senate to improve livestock disaster assistance. The Hagstrom Report says the bill is designed to accomplish several things, including aligning coverage between the Livestock Forage Program (LFP) and Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP). It will also increase producer assistance under LFP to compensate them more accurately for feed costs, specify transportation costs for feed and water as covered losses under ELAP, and make those program improvements permanent. “Our livestock producers are facing real challenges during this drought,” Hoeven says, “Our bipartisan legislation makes common-sense improvements to the Livestock Forage and Emergency Livestock Assistance Programs to better meet the needs of those with boots on the ground.” Hoeven is the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, and Tester also serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee. They both say that ranchers are “really up against it” and are doing all they can to help them through this severe weather. Tester says, “The devastating drought has touched every corner of Montana and put a real hurt on livestock producers in our state.” *********************************************************************************** Sorghum Industry Partners with the University of California to Advance Sorghum The United Sorghum Checkoff Program is partnering with the University of California and its Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources to advance the sorghum industry. The five-year partnership will promote drought resilience in sorghum and increase demand for the cereal crop in the biofuel and bioproduct markets. While the research will be conducted in California, the results will benefit sorghum producers throughout the country. “We are excited to launch such a unique program aimed at helping address the world’s pressing water issues while at the same time increasing demand for a drought-tolerant crop like sorghum,” says Norma Ritz Johnson, USCP executive director. “The program is in perfect alignment with the Sorghum Checkoff’s goal of increasing producer profitability as drought and water scarcity is a challenge faced by most sorghum producers in the U.S.” In addition, Johnson says with the recent focus on renewable energy production, promoting a versatile crop like sorghum in biofuel and bioproduct markets is a timely endeavor. Key activities will include breeding, gene discovery, phenotyping, and research related to the impacts of roots, soil microbes, photosynthesis, and management on drought resilience. *********************************************************************************** Growth Energy Welcomes CHS as New Producer Plant Member Growth Energy, the world’s biggest ethanol trade association, announced that CHS is its newest producer plant member. The addition brings Growth Energy’s membership to a total of 91 producer plant members and 8.8 billion gallons represented out of the total U.S. annual ethanol production. CHS has been a premier ethanol marketer, trader, and producer of renewable fuels for more than forty years. They produce 260 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol and market one billion gallons of ethanol every year, making CHS one of the nation’s largest suppliers of ethanol-enhanced gasoline and the largest U.S. retailer of E85 ethanol. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says they’re thrilled to welcome CHS to their growing powerhouse list of Growth Energy producer plant members. “As a whole, CHS has already contributed so much to our industry as an associate member of Growth Energy, having just announced the sale of E15 at 19 more Midwest terminals through its refining business,” Skor says. A release from CHS says, “We value working together for shared success, and we look forward to active participation in Growth Energy and its efforts to advance pro-biofuels policies and expand consumer access to higher ethanol blends.” *********************************************************************************** Corn Export Sales Jump While Wheat Sales Decline The USDA says corn sales for the 2020-2021 marketing year that ends on August 31 jumped while wheat sales declined. Sales of corn for offshore delivery totaled 377,600 metric tons in the seven days ending on August 5. That’s up noticeably from the previous week and the prior four-week average. Mexico was the big buyer at 144,500 metric tons, followed by Japan and Venezuela. The total would have been higher, but an unknown country canceled cargoes totaling 76,800 metric tons. Sales for delivery in the next marketing year totaled just shy of 602,000 metric tons. Exports for the week dropped 25 percent to 1.06 million metric tons. Wheat sales for delivery during the marketing year that began on June 1 fell to 293,000 metric tons, five percent lower week-to-week and 32 percent lower than the prior four-week average. An unknown country bought 98,600 metric tons, followed by Japan and Venezuela. Exports for the week hit a marketing-year high of 627,900 tons. Soybean sales in the current marketing year came in at 96,900 metric tons, up from the prior week and the previous four-week average. China was the top buyer at 84,500 metric tons. For the next marketing year, sales totaled 1.12 million metric tons.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 16, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and rainfall totals. USDA's weekly grain export inspections report is set for 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Spring wheat harvest progress and crop ratings will be noticed, but crop ratings tend to lose their price impact after the August WASDE report. Weather Scattered showers will continue across the southern half of the country Monday while heat builds in the Northern Plains. Tropical Storm Fred is set to make landfall in the Florida Panhandle later today, bringing heavy rainfall to southeastern states into the middle of the week. Flooding of some cotton fields that are in really good shape is possible.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 13, 2021 |


USDA Releases August WASDE Report The much-anticipated August World Agriculture Supply and Demand report sent crop prices slightly higher Thursday. The monthly report from the Department of Agriculture expects lower corn supplies, reduced feed and residual use, increased food, seed, and industrial use, lower exports, and smaller ending stocks. The season’s first survey-based corn yield forecast, at 174.6 bushels per acre, is 4.9 bushels below last month’s trend-based projection. The season-average corn price received by producers increased 15 cents to $5.75 per bushel. U.S. soybean supply and use changes include higher beginning stocks and lower production, crush, and exports. Soybean production is forecasted at 4.34 billion bushels, down 66 million on lower yields. The survey-based soybean yield forecast of 50.0 bushels per acre is down 0.8 bushels from last month. The season-average soybean price is $13.70 per bushel, unchanged from last month. The U.S. wheat outlook projects reduced supplies, lower domestic use, unchanged exports, and decreased ending stocks. The projected season-average farm price increased $0.10 per bushel to $6.70. *********************************************************************************** Ag Credit Survey: Strong Farm Economy Supports Ag Credit Conditions A sharp turnaround in agricultural economic conditions and lasting support from government programs is boosting farm income and loan repayment rates. Both increased from a year ago at the fastest pace on record. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank released its quarterly Ag Credit survey Thursday. The survey shows the improvement in farm finances eased credit issues and contributed to softer demand for farm loans. With support from a strong farm economy and historically low interest rates, farm real estate values rose ten percent from a year ago, the largest increase since 2013. The outlook for profit opportunities in 2021 remains strong for most farmers as commodity prices remained well above recent years. Conditions in the cattle industry remained somewhat weaker, however, and drought continued to hinder conditions for some farmers and ranchers. Nearly all banks in the KC Fed district reported that production expenses for crop and livestock producers increased, and cash rental rates also increased, which could pressure margins going forward. *********************************************************************************** Cattle Industry Commits to Climate Neutrality by 2040 The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Thursday solidified U.S. cattle ranchers’ commitment to environmental, economic and social sustainability with the release of U.S. cattle industry sustainability goals. The goals call for demonstrating climate neutrality of U.S. cattle production by 2040. NCBA past president Marty Smith says, “By setting goals, we’re publicly committing to continuous improvement and setting targets that allow us to measure and document those efforts.” The goals also seek to create and enhance opportunities that result in a quantifiable increase in producer profitability and economic sustainability by 2025, and enhance trust in cattle producers as responsible stewards of their animals and resources by expanding educational opportunities in animal care and handling programs to further improve animal well-being. The goals are the culmination of a grassroots, rancher-led process through the Sustainability Goals Task Force formed this year. The task force evaluated the current state of U.S. beef cattle sustainability, and determined which improvements are most critical. *********************************************************************************** R-CALF Issues Rebuke on Call for Regional Cash Market Minimums A document sent to the Senate Agriculture Committee from R-CALF calls for mandating large packing plants to purchase at least 50 percent of their cattle needs from negotiated cash cattle markets. Announced Thursday, R-CALF USA says the white paper provides real-time evidence that varying minimum cash cattle purchase requirements region-to-region will allow major beef packers to continue denying timely market access to independent cattle feeders. The document is titled, “Why a 50 percent National Negotiated Cash Volume Is Needed and Why That Volume Should Not Vary Region by Region.” The group’s paper provides the example of at least one Iowa cash cattle seller who was informed that one major packer was out of the market for five weeks and another was reducing Iowa cash cattle purchases. By mandating that all large packing plants purchase at least 50 percent of their cattle needs from negotiated cash cattle markets, the group says Congress can ensure that independent cattle producers located everywhere have access to a competitive market. *********************************************************************************** European Commission Delays Certificate Regulation, Protecting U.S. Dairy Exports The European Commission this week decided to extend the implementation deadline for its new health certificate requirements to January 15, 2022. The International Dairy Foods Association says the announcement backs off on threats to shut down U.S. dairy exports to EU member states as well as transshipments of U.S. dairy products through the European Union. IDFA and U.S. officials considered the certificate requirements—requiring animal health monitoring and veterinarian sign-off, among other requirements—to be burdensome and in conflict with international standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health. IDFA says the EC's extension provides U.S. and European officials with enough time to complete their discussions and determine appropriate implementation procedures for U.S. exports. IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes states, “We are grateful for the support and intervention of the Biden Administration to resolve this matter and hope the U.S. government will continue working with IDFA to help U.S. dairy gain access to the EU market.” *********************************************************************************** Food Prices Increase Again in July Food prices rose again in July, according to the latest Consumer Price Index. The food index increased 0.7 percent in July as five of the major grocery store food group indexes rose, and the food away from home index increased 0.8 percent. The index for food at home also rose 0.7 percent, as the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs continued to increase. The index for cereals and bakery products, which declined in June, rose 1.2 percent in July, its largest one-month increase since April 2020. The index for other food at home rose 0.8 percent in July, also the largest monthly increase since April 2020. The index for nonalcoholic beverages rose 0.7 percent in July, and the index for dairy and related products advanced 0.6 percent. The index for fruits and vegetables was the only major grocery store food group index to fall in July, declining 0.9 percent after rising 0.7 percent in June. The index for fresh fruits fell 1.8 percent over the month.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 13, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The University of Michigan consumer sentiment index is due out at 9 a.m. CDT and is the only significant report scheduled for Friday the 13th. Traders will continue to watch over the latest forecasts and digest Thursday's new estimates from USDA. Traders will also watch at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA announces a seventh consecutive export sale for new-crop soybeans. Weather An active frontal boundary from the Central Plains through the southern Midwest will remain active as it pushes south Friday. Moderate to heavy rainfall will be possible along the front in these areas while it continues to dry out farther north.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 12, 2021 |


CattleFax Forecasts Record Beef Demand; Prospects for Tighter Supplies The beef cattle industry is bouncing back from the pandemic, and continued progress is expected in 2022. Beef prices are near record high, and consumer and wholesale beef demand are both at 30-year highs as the U.S. and global economy recover. While drought remains a significant concern, strong demand, combined with higher cattle prices, signal an optimistic future for the beef industry, according to CattleFax. The popular CattleFax Outlook Seminar, held as part of the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show in Nashville, shared expert market and weather analysis Wednesday. According to CattleFax CEO Randy Blach, the cattle market is still dealing with a burdensome supply of market-ready fed cattle. The influence of that supply will diminish as three years of herd liquidation will reduce feedyard placements. As this occurs, the value of calves, feeder cattle and fed cattle will increase several hundred dollars per head over the next few years. *********************************************************************************** Senate Confirms Moffitt for USDA Post The U.S. Senate Wednesday confirmed the nomination of Jenny Moffitt as Agriculture Department undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow of Michigan says, “Moffitt brings a wealth of experience and a unique perspective as both a farmer and a policy maker.” The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing on Moffitt’s nomination on July 15, 2021, and voted to advance her out of the committee with bipartisan support. President Biden nominated Moffitt for the position in April. She most recently served as undersecretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture and previously served as deputy secretary for the agency. Ranking Senate Ag member John Boozman of Arkansas adds he believes Moffitt “will work in good faith to carry out the regulatory authorities for which she will be responsible in a manner that is consistent with congressional intent.” Moffitt will oversee USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service Agency and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Agency. *********************************************************************************** USDA Invests $167 Million in High-Speed Broadband in 12 States Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday announced the Department of Agriculture is investing $167 million in 12 states to deploy broadband infrastructure. The investment focuses on rural areas without sufficient access to high-speed internet. Secretary Vilsack says broadband “is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning and health care, and to stay connected.” The investments will benefit rural people in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia. As part of the investment, Central Virginia Services Inc. will use a $14.1 million grant to deploy a fiber network in rural Virginia, and the Altamaha Electric Membership Corporation in Lyons, Georgia, will use a $10.6 million loan and a $10.6 million grant to deploy a fiber network in rural Georgia. USDA’s ReConnect Program provides the loans and grants to construct, improve or acquire facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in eligible rural areas. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Ag Tractor Sales Hold Steady in July, Gain in Canada Gains in larger and four-wheel-drive tractors offset smaller declines in the sub-40 horsepower range in the U.S., while Canadian farm tractor sales were positive in July. The Association of Equipment Manufacturers says U.S. total farm tractor sales fell 0.8 percent in July compared to 2020, while U.S. combine sales jumped 19.2 percent. The articulated four-wheel drive segment led the way for the third straight month by climbing 79.4 percent. Year-to-date farm tractor sales remain up 13.7 percent and combines up 12.6 percent. AEM’s Curt Blades states, “The story of these row-crop and articulated four-wheel-drive sales is a reflection of farmer optimism,” adding “farmers don’t make these sorts of investments without serious consideration of future market conditions.” For Canada, July monthly tractor and combine sales were positive across all segments, with the biggest growth in four-wheel-drive units nearly doubling, up 93.8 percent, while total farm tractor sales were up 14.8 percent and combines up 59.8 percent. *********************************************************************************** Lawmakers Introduce Ocean Shipping Reform Act House lawmakers this week Introduced the Ocean Shipping Reform Act of 2021. The bipartisan legislation is the first major update of federal regulations for the global ocean shipping industry since 1998. The legislation would support American exports by establishing reciprocal trade opportunities to help reduce the United States’ longstanding trade imbalance with China and other countries. South Dakota Republican Dusty Johnson and California Democrat John Garamendi introduced the legislation. The Congressmen serve together on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and announced their intention to pursue the legislation during a Subcommittee hearing on June 15, 2021. The bill seeks to establish reciprocal trade to promote U.S. exports as part of the Federal Maritime Commission’s mission and require ocean carriers to adhere to minimum service standards that meet the public interest, reflecting best practices in the global shipping industry, among other measures. The bill has large agriculture and transportation industry support. *********************************************************************************** Canadian Pacific Submits New Bid for Kansas City Southern Canadian Pacific Railway this week re-upped its offer to acquire Kansas City Southern in a stock and cash trade worth approximately $31 billion. The move comes as KCS shareholders are voting to approve a merger/transaction with Canadian National. Canadian Pacific claims their new offer is an alternate transaction recognizing the premium value of KCS while providing more regulatory certainty. The proposed transaction values KCS at $300 per share. Following the closing into a voting trust, common shareholders of KCS will receive 2.8 CP common shares and $90 in cash for each share of KCS common stock held. Canadian National, however, maintains its agreement is superior, under which KCS shareholders will receive $325 per common share, which implies a total enterprise value of $33.6 billion. However, there are many concerns regulators will not approve the KCS-CN agreement. Canadian Pacific says the two offers are substantially similar but claims their proposal offers significantly higher regulatory certainty.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 12, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, along with U.S. jobless claims, the producer price index for July and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Energy Department's natural gas inventory report is due out at 9:30 a.m. At 11 a.m., USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports for August will be released with new U.S. crop estimates featured. Weather A frontal boundary will remain active across the southern Midwest with continued showers and thunderstorms. Some storms could be severe, but not to the extent we have seen the last couple of days. Hot and humid weather is found south of this front, which is stressing crops in some of the locally drier areas in the Central and Southern Plains and Delta.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 11, 2021 |


Ag Reacts to Senate Passage of Infrastructure Bill The U.S. Senate passed the bipartisan infrastructure package that contains several important investments for agriculture. Several U.S. agricultural groups reacted positively to the news. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime investment in America’s infrastructure, and we are extremely pleased that it includes funding for priorities that are important to farmers and rural America,” says John Linder, President of the National Corn Growers Association. American Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says, “We appreciate the Senate for working together to pass the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The pressing infrastructure issues facing our nation are too important to ignore, particularly in rural communities where modernization is desperately needed.” Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose says the investments in rural broadband will connect more communities. “The agriculture transport network will benefit from improved rural roadways and bridges, freight rail, inland waterways, and port facilities,” Van Hoose says. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association says the package is “a step in the right direction.” Among the key items in the bill are $17.3 billion for the nation’s ports and inland waterways. The legislation earmarks $65 billion for broadband internet access, including $2 billion specifically set aside for rural broadband. *********************************************************************************** IA, MN Senators Push for Pandemic Relief for Swine Producers Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, both Iowa Republicans, and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar sent a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding assistance for swine producers. They want the USDA to make sure that swine producers and contract swine growers are eligible for the assistance Congress secured for them. The bipartisan push comes after the Biden administration didn’t mention assistance for pork producers during the Pandemic Assistance for Producers June or July announcements regarding the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program. “We’re concerned that USDA’s announcement on June 15 that described its intent to finalize this program within 60 days only focused on poultry growers and made no mention of providing assistance to contract swine growers,” the senators said in their letter. “Additionally, many pork producers have been waiting for USDA to roll out the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program swine top-up payments that were announced in January of this year.” Late last year, Congress passed a bipartisan COVID relief package that included assistance to contract livestock and poultry producers, as well as to agricultural producers, growers, processors, specialty crops, non-specialty crops, dairy, livestock, and poultry. On January 15, USDA announced Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 1 top-up payments for swine producers with approved CFAP 1 applications. *********************************************************************************** Cattle Industry Convention Underway in Nashville This Week The biggest annual beef industry gathering began on Tuesday in Nashville, Tennessee, where more than 6,000 people got together for the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show. Those in attendance include cattle producers, industry partners, and other industry stakeholders. “I’m pleased that cattlemen and women can come together in person once again,” says National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President Jerry Bohn. “Producers from across the country and their families look forward to the convention every year, but I think it means more following the disruptions brought on by COVID-19.” Convention participants will gain insights on market trends during the CattleFax Outlook Seminar, hear a “state of the industry” update from NCBA, learn about the cattle industry’s role in sustainability, and walk through the NCBA Trade Show that contains more than 350 exhibitors on seven acres. The NCBA, Cattlemen’s Beef Board, American National Cattlewomen, CattleFax, and the National Cattlemen’s Foundation will all hold annual meetings. Two general sessions will include a panel discussion on sustainability and a speech from former NFL player Jason Brown, who left football for a career in agriculture. *********************************************************************************** GROWMARK and Indigo Combine to Expand Access to Carbon Markets GROWMARK, a farmer-owned cooperative, and Indigo Ag have announced a joint effort to spur participation in the growing market for agricultural carbon. The companies say because of this collaboration, GROWMARK SYSTEM’s network of retailers will help farmers navigate an increasingly complex soil carbon market and confidently get started on carbon farming through the only high-quality, third-party verified credit program in operation, called “Carbon by Indigo.” GROWMARK and Indigo will provide farmer-owners with the end-to-end support necessary to succeed in the agricultural carbon opportunity. Participating retailers will help farmers evaluate and enroll in “Carbon by Indigo” and implement beneficial farming practices proven to sequester carbon and abate greenhouse gas emissions. Indigo will leverage its capabilities for measuring and verifying on-farm environmental impact at scale to translate the effects of farmers’ efforts into a new source of revenue in the form of carbon credits. “The opportunity for farmers to benefit from public demand for high-quality carbon credits is tremendous,” says Mark Orr, Vice President of Agronomy with GROWMARK. “We’re proud to work with Indigo to provide our farmer partners with a simple and informed path to generate maximum revenue for their efforts.” *********************************************************************************** Grassley Wants Review of Cargill/Continental Grain Acquisition of Sanderson Farms Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley sent a letter to the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division regarding the acquisition of Sanderson Farms by Cargill and Continental Grain Company. Grassley, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, is asking the Justice Department to thoroughly examine the proposed acquisition and to consult with the USDA on its effect on the poultry industry. “At the closing of the transaction, Cargill and Continental Grain will combine Sanderson Farms, the third-largest poultry producer in the U.S., with Wayne Farms, currently a subsidiary of Continental Grain, to form a new poultry business,” Grassley says in the letter addressed to Richard Powers, Acting Assistant Attorney General. “According to industry analysts, a combined Cargill-Continental Grain-Sanderson Farms would control approximately 15 percent of the U.S. chicken market.” Grassley also says he’s concerned that continued mergers and acquisitions in an already concentrated poultry industry will increase consolidation, frustrate competition, reduce marketing options, and ultimately raise consumer prices. “I urge the Antitrust Division to thoroughly examine this proposed acquisition to preserve a competitive market in the U.S. poultry industry,” Grassley says. “I also urge the division to seek input from the USDA in its analysis of the proposed transaction and its impact on the poultry market.” *********************************************************************************** NBB Celebrates RFS Anniversary Last weekend marked the 16th anniversary of the Renewable Fuel Standard, a policy that’s played a big role in decarbonizing America’s diesel fuel supply. On the heels of the anniversary, National Biodiesel Board CEO Donnell (Duh-NELL) Rehagen noted the sustainable growth of the biodiesel industry under the RFS and urged policymakers to continue supporting future growth. “The RFS has been crucial to growing the advanced biofuel industry, and it will remain essential for future decarbonization efforts around the country,” Rehagen says. “The RFS supported the sustainable growth of a three-billion-gallon market for biodiesel and renewable diesel that has cut 143.8 million metric tons of carbon emissions over the past decade. We can’t afford to lose ground now.” He also says the policy should support the continued growth of advanced biofuels as the industry strives to reach six billion gallons by 2030. The RFS drives the development of advanced biofuels that reduce carbon emissions from some of the hardest economic sectors to decarbonize.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 11, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Wednesday's reports begin with the Labor Department's consumer price index for July, due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT and will add to the ongoing conversation about inflation. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report is due out at 9:30 a.m. and will include ethanol production. The U.S. Treasury's budget for July will be announced at 1 p.m. Weather After an active severe weather day in the Midwest on Tuesday, another active day is expected Wednesday with the greatest probabilities centered around Lake Michigan. Another frontal boundary moving into the Midwest will be the culprit. Hot and humid weather will continue south of this front through much of the Midwest and Plains down to the Gulf of Mexico. Meanwhile, cooler and drier air behind the front will ease stress for filling corn and soybeans.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 10, 2021 |


Ag, Biofuel, Call for DOE Analysis of Sustainable Aviation fuel Tax Credits Biofuel and agriculture groups call on lawmakers to provide an accountable life cycle analysis for sustainable aviation fuel tax credits. In an effort to decarbonize transportation and reduce aviation emissions, Congress is considering new legislation to establish a tax credit to promote and develop robust domestic sustainable aviation fuel production. The groups say in a letter to the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee, “We urge you to make the Department of Energy the lead agency in establishing a regularly updated Life Cycle Analysis for any sustainable aviation fuel credit.” The letter was signed by Growth Energy, the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Biodiesel Board, National Corn Growers Association, National Farmers Union, and the Renewable Fuels Association. The letter also pointed out that carbon intensity estimates under the International Civil Aviation Organization for some sustainable aviation fuel sources are “wildly inaccurate and incorrectly penalized” and cannot be supported. *********************************************************************************** Vilsack, Tai, to Meet with USDA Ag Policy Committee Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai will meet with the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee Friday. The committee, managed by the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, offers advice on U.S. trade policy. Topics include current and new trade deals, trade agreement implementation and concerns within the agreements. The committee consists of six technical advisory boards, including animals, fruits and vegetables, grains, processed foods, sweeteners and a final group focused on tobacco, cotton and peanuts. Committee members represent U.S. food and agriculture groups and major agribusinesses, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Corn Growers Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, along with Corteva, ADM, and others. The advisory committee system was created by the U.S. Congress in 1974 to ensure that U.S. trade policy and trade negotiating objectives adequately reflect U.S. public- and private-sector interests. USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service provides administrative and other necessary support for the Committee. *********************************************************************************** Cargill and Continental Grain Purchasing Sanderson Farms Cargill and the Continental Grain Company Monday announced a joint-venture agreement to acquire Sanderson Farms, the third-largest poultry producer in the United States. The all-cash purchase totals $4.53 billion, or $203 per share, a 30.3 percent premium to Sanderson Farms’ share price of $155.74 on June 18, 2021. Cargill and Continental Grain will combine Sanderson Farms with Wayne Farms, a subsidiary of Continental Grain, to form a new, privately held poultry business. In a statement, Cargill says the combination of Sanderson Farms and Wayne Farms will create a “best-in-class U.S. poultry company with a high-quality asset base, complementary operating cultures, and an industry-leading management team and workforce.” Chairman and CEO of Cargill David MacLennan says, “Expanding our poultry offerings to the U.S. is a key enabler of our ability to meet customer and consumer demands.” Operations will include poultry processing plants and prepared foods plants across Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Texas. *********************************************************************************** Pro Farmer Crop Tour Next Week Pro Farmer scouts will fan out across the Corn Belt to measure this year's corn and soybean yield potential during the 29th annual Pro Farmer Crop Tour next week, August 15-19. The tour is an August ritual covering seven Midwestern states and capturing the attention of the industry and national media. Observations and results will be shared nightly at in-person events and live-streamed online. Pro Farmer Editor and Eastern Tour Director Brian Grete says, “Crop tour will give us a first-hand look at whether the good areas are enough to compensate for the poorer locations.” The event is the most thorough and most followed inspection of yield potential during a critical time in the growing season. A summary of findings from the tour will be presented nightly at 7 p.m. central time, through a live-streamed broadcast hosted by Clinton Griffiths, Tyne Morgan, Chip Flory and Brian Grete. Free registration is required and available at www.ProFarmer.com/register. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Beef and Pork Exports on Record Pace through June U.S. red meat exports closed the first half of the year on a strong note, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Although volume and value eased from April and May, export value was still the highest on record for the month of June, and first-half shipments established a record pace for both beef and pork. June beef exports totaled 112,200 metric tons, up 42 percent from a year ago when exports were still hampered by COVID-19 disruptions. Export value was $804.4 million, up 68 percent from a year ago and the third-highest on record. First-half exports reached over 700,000 metric tons, up 18 percent from a year ago. Pork exports reached 238,000 metric tons in June, up 15 percent from a year ago, while export value climbed 35 percent to $696.8 million. First-half pork exports topped last year's record pace by one percent at 1.58 million metric tons, valued at $4.33 billion. *********************************************************************************** AEM President Dennis J. Slater to Retire The Association of Equipment Manufacturers President Dennis Slater will retire at the end of the year, the organization announced late last week. The AEM Board of Directors has selected AEM’s Construction and Utility Sector Senior Vice President Megan Tanel to succeed Slater and serve as AEM President effective January 2022. Slater, 63, joined AEM’s predecessor, the Construction Industry Manufacturers Association in 1982, becoming president of CIMA in 1998 and president of the newly formed AEM in 2002, after a merger between CIMA and Equipment Manufacturers Institute. AEM Chair Chairman Steve Berglund says, “Through Dennis’ leadership and impressive contributions to the industry for nearly 40 years, AEM has built tremendous value and momentum for our members and the industry.” Tanel, 48, joined AEM in 1995 as an intern, becoming a full-time employee later that year. She quickly grew in leadership to her most recent position of Senior Vice President, Construction & Utility Sector.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 10, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Reports on U.S. productivity and unit labor costs are due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT and are the only official reports of the day. Traders will continue to watch the latest weather forecasts, any news of export sales and prepare for Thursday's WASDE report. Weather A frontal boundary moving into the Midwest is expected to produce scattered showers and thunderstorms, some possibly strong to severe. Showers will likely develop across the Central Plains as well. Outside of any severe weather, the rainfall will be good if it happens upon the northwest portions of the Midwest, which are still drier and could use the rainfall for filling corn and soybeans.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 9, 2021 |


Farm Bureau Supports Infrastructure Legislation The American Farm Bureau sent a letter to all 100 U.S. Senators expressing its support for the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall says modernizing the country’s transportation infrastructure continues to be a priority for their members. “That’s why we are supporting this bipartisan legislation,” Duvall says. “The investments in our nation’s roads, bridges, ports, and inland waterways are not just necessary, but they are long overdue.” He also says this legislation provides critical investments that will expand broadband internet access and repair and upgrade aging western water infrastructure that is, in many cases, 50 to 100 years old and not adequate to meet today’s needs. “Our nation’s infrastructure gives America’s farmers and ranchers a competitive advantage and helps us move products from fields to consumers around the world,” he adds. “These investments will ensure we continue to safely and efficiently transport the agricultural and food products that our nation and world rely on.” Duvall is also grateful that the senators didn’t place the burden of these investments on American farmers and ranchers through increased tax rates or by eliminating the stepped-up basis. “We encourage the Senate to pass this investment in America’s future,” Duvall says. ********************************************************************************************** More Groups Say CAFÉ Standards Must Include Biofuels The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation proposed greenhouse gas standards to decarbonize light-duty vehicles. Those vehicles will include passenger cars, SUVs, and pickup trucks. The proposed rule would require automakers to meet more stringent fuel efficiency standards. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says for the proposed CAFÉ standards to effectively address climate change, the rule needs to include a pathway to increase the use of low-carbon, sustainable biofuels like ethanol into the nation’s fuel supply. “We will be providing the Biden Administration a pathway forward that allows biofuels like ethanol to help us meet our climate goals,” Skor says. “Liquid fuels will continue to play an important role in the transportation sector, even as alternative technologies continue to flourish.” National Farmers Union President Rob Larew points out that the transportation sector is the single largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. “That makes it the central focus in climate mitigation efforts,” he says. “That’s why NFU is advocating for the use of high octane, low carbon fuels, including higher-level blends of ethanol.” *********************************************************************************************** Groups Want Biden to Restart Trade Talks with China Some of the most influential business groups in America want the White House to restart trade talks with China. The New York Times says they also want tariffs cut on goods imported from China. Those duties have been in place since the beginning of a trade war between the two nations. The groups represent diverse business interests, including potato farmers, microchip companies, and pharmaceuticals. In a letter to the Biden administration, they’re asking the president to work with the Chinese government to make sure it carries out commitments made in the Phase One Trade Agreement that China signed with the Trump Administration. The letter was addressed to the Treasury Department and the U.S. Trade Representative, and it comes as the relationship between the two largest economies in the world remains contentious. The administration is more than seven months into a review of the Phase One Trade Deal, as well as other national security measures put into place by the Trump Administration. Officials haven’t yet announced the results of the review. The January 2020 agreement between the U.S. and China kept U.S. tariffs on $360 billion worth of Chinese imports in place. Some provisions of the deal expire at the end of this year, but much of the agreement will stay in effect. ********************************************************************************************** Coffee Prices Continue to Climb Due to Frost, Shipping Costs Coffee prices are on the way up. Top coffee producer Brazil was hit hard by frost, and the record cost of freight brought on by COVID-19 causing massive shipping logjams will push prices to multi-year highs in the weeks to come. The worst cold snap in Brazil since 1994 sent the price of green coffee beans to the highest level in almost seven years. That increase will pass through the chain to consumers when they buy roasted beans or ground coffee in their local grocery stores. Reuters says crops in Brazil are wilting after the worst dry spell the country has seen in almost a century. The extent of the damage isn’t fully known yet, but in areas where coffee trees didn’t survive, it may take as many as seven years for production to fully rebound. The shipping problems are partly brought on by demand for consumer goods and not enough available ships as people stayed home during COVID. That’s led to a sharp rise in the cost of transporting beans to the major coffee-consuming countries in North America and Europe. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the average ground coffee prices rose to a peak of $4.75 per pound in April, 8.1 percent higher than last year and the highest level since 2015. ********************************************************************************************** Groups Call for Climate-Smart Investments, Including Broadband The National Milk Producers Federation and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives led a coalition of 12 agricultural and conservation organizations in a letter on investments. They’re advocating for significant new funding for climate-smart agricultural practices that can help farmers to build on their environmental stewardship leadership. The groups say much more can be done to enhance practices that can yield meaningful environmental benefits, such as climate-smart manure and feed management on dairy farms. “Bolstering conservation investment and focusing on climate-smart practices better positions dairy farmers to fulfill the dairy sector’s 2050 environmental stewardship goals as envisioned in the Net Zero Initiative,” says NMPF CEO Jim Mulhern. In addition to increased spending on conservation incentives, the organizations also support new rural broadband resources in pending infrastructure legislation. The letter also brings up the major concerns that many of its signers have already voiced regarding several proposed changes to tax policy that would undermine the transfer of family farms from one generation to the next. Other organizations signing on to the letter include the Ag Retailers Association, the American Seed Trade Association, the National Association of Conservation Districts, and many others. *********************************************************************************************** Land O’ Lakes Mid-Year Earnings Are Up Land O’ Lakes Incorporated reports year-to-date net sales totaling $8 billion, with net earnings of $236 million. That’s a year-over-year increase of nine percent in net sales. Dairy Reporter says during the same period a year ago, the company reported net sales of $7.3 billion and net earnings of $118 million. For the second quarter ending on June 30, 2021, the company reported net sales of $4 billion and net earnings of $100 million. That’s a 14 percent year-over-year net sales increase and a 22 percent increase in net earnings. Net sales growth reflects strength in crop inputs and animal nutrition and higher pricing across the portfolio to offset rising input and supply chain costs. “We are pleased that we’ve been able to maintain the strength and accelerate the momentum of last year’s performance,” says Land O’ Lakes CEO Beth Ford. “Despite increasing costs, the fundamentals of our industry remain favorable, and our differentiated approach has delivered a sustained performance in all business segments through the first half of the year.“ Ford also says the company recognizes that the third quarter could be the toughest year-over-year comparison in their historically smallest quarter. Earnings for the quarter were driven by strong performance in crop inputs with higher volumes and favorable product mix in crop protection and improved margins in crop nutrients.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 9, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Fresh back from the weekend, traders will be checking rainfall amounts and the latest weather forecasts. USDA's weekly grain export inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3:00 p.m. Good to excellent crop ratings likely showed further deterioration for corn and soybeans in the latest week. Weather A system in the Midwest is weakening but will continue bring showers and thunderstorms east of the Mississippi River on Monday. Another storm in the Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies will bring scattered showers as well. In the U.S. the focus will be on North Dakota. Rainfall over the past few days has been beneficial for many of the drier areas of the Corn Belt, but there were some that have been missed. Monday gives those areas another shot.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 6, 2021 |


USDA Launching Market News Reports based on Livestock Mandatory Reporting The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced two new USDA Market News Reports based on Livestock Mandatory Reporting data. The reports will provide additional insight into formula cattle trades and help promote fair and competitive markets, and stems from a recent executive order on competition. USDA will release the first new report, the National Daily Direct Formula Base Cattle, this coming Monday, and the second report, the National Weekly Cattle Net Price Distribution, this coming Tuesday. The National Daily Direct Formula Base Cattle reports will enable producers to see the correlation between the negotiated trade and reported formula base prices. The weekly and monthly formula base reports will be both national and regional in scope and include forward contract base purchase information. The National Weekly Cattle Net Price Distribution report will show at what levels, price and volume, trade occurred across the weekly weighted average price for each purchase type – negotiated, negotiated grid, formula and forward contract. *********************************************************************************** Farm, Biofuels Groups: Biofuels Can Help Reach 2030 Zero-emission Vehicle Goals The White House Thursday announced an executive order that sets a new target to make half of all new vehicles sold by 2030 zero-emission vehicles. According to a White House fact sheet, the order also kicks off development of long-term fuel efficiency and emissions standards to save consumers money, cut pollution, boost public health, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis. However, the effort lacks links to biofuels. Rural Voices USA Board President Chris Gibbs states, "The path ahead will also require a commitment to biofuels as an essential way to reduce emissions and support rural economies." The organization encourages President Joe Biden to renew his commitment to biofuels and upholding the Renewable Fuel Standard. Meanwhile, Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper says, “The overarching goal should be to reach net-zero emissions as quickly as possible without dictating the pathway to get there or putting all our eggs into one technology basket.” *********************************************************************************** Legislation Seeks to Block California Prop 12 Lawmakers Thursday introduced the Exposing Agricultural Trade Suppression, or EATS Act, to prohibit states and local governments from interfering with agriculture products from other states. Specifically, the bill seeks to block California’s Proposition 12, which would require meat products raised outside of the state to conform to the animal rights standards adopted by California. The Republican Group of Senators introducing the bill features Iowa’s Chuck Grassley and Joni Erst, Roger Marshall of Kansas and John Cornyn of Texas. Grassley claims, “I don’t know why anyone would want to live in a state where it’s almost impossible to buy bacon, but California wants to impose such a rule on its residents.” The EATS Act will also challenge states from interfering in interstate commerce. However, state and local government units will still be able to regulate farming and ranching within their own state. More than 20 states challenged California’s Proposition 12, and others have adopted similar laws. *********************************************************************************** Farm Credit: Infrastructure Package to Improve Rural America The Farm Credit Council says the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will help improve rural America, bringing infrastructure improvements and jobs. Farm Credit President and CEO Todd Van Hoose Thursday stated, “We commend the bipartisan group of 22 Senators and President Biden for their tremendous effort to forge agreement on this critical legislation.” The legislation will bring support for rural broadband and rural water systems. The bill also will strengthen agriculture transport networks by improving rural roadways and bridges, freight rail, inland waterways, and port facilities. Van Hoose says these investments will create jobs in rural communities, make U.S. agriculture more competitive in global markets, and make rural communities “more vital places to live and work.” As for broadband, the bill features more than $40 billion in funding to improve rural broadband access. The bill is on track to pass and could pass the Senate before lawmakers adjourn for the upcoming August recess. *********************************************************************************** Study Shows How Corn and Soybean Producers Benefit from U.S. Red Meat Exports U.S. beef and pork exports brought critical returns to the corn and soybean industries in 2020, according to an independent study released by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. The study found U.S. beef and pork exports added 41 cents per bushel to the value of corn and $1.06 per bushel to soybeans in 2020. Corn and soybean producers support the international promotion of U.S. pork, beef and lamb by investing a portion of their checkoff dollars in market development efforts conducted by USMEF. The study shows U.S. pork exports used 2.45 million tons of soybean meal, which is the equivalent of 103.2 million bushels of soybeans. At an average annual price of $8.98 per bushel, pork exports accounted for $927 million in market value to the soybean industry. Beef and pork exports used 530.5 million bushels of corn. At an average annual price of $3.52 per bushel, beef and pork exports accounted for $1.87 billion in market value to the corn industry. *********************************************************************************** Alex Miller to Perform at #Farmon Benefit Concert for National FFA Farm Journal announced this week that American Idol contestant and rising country music star Alex Miller will perform as part of the 2021 #FarmON Benefit Concert during Farm Journal Field Days. Proceeds from the second annual benefit concert will go to the National FFA Foundation, and highlights from the concert will air RFD-TV. Miller grew up in Lancaster, Kentucky, assisting his grandpa on his cattle farm as well as being an active member of the Garrard County FFA. Farm Journal president Charlene Finck says, “We are honored to have an extremely talented and current FFA member as one of our featured performers.” The live concert is set for Thursday, August 26, in Colby, Kansas, and is available only to VIPs and those who register for the in-person Farm Journal Field Days event the following day. For more information about the #FarmON Benefit Concert and Farm Journal Field Days, go to www.FarmJournalFieldDays.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday August 6, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will have reports on nonfarm payrolls and U.S. unemployment in July at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday. A report on consumer credit in June follows at 2 p.m. CDT. Traders will keep a close watch on rainfall amounts this weekend and any changes in the weather forecasts. Outside markets remain sensitive to the latest news on the coronavirus delta variant. Weather Some scattered showers will be found along a disturbance across the western Midwest Friday and across the Northern Plains Friday night. It is this second system that should garner attention as the weather pattern will become active into next week with several chances for rainfall across the northwestern Corn Belt, areas that desperately need it as corn and soybeans fill.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 5, 2021 |


USTR Tai Meeting with Western Farmers U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai meets today (Thursday) with farmers and ranchers in the Pacific Northwest. Tai and U.S. Representative Suzan DelBene, a Washington state Democrat, will tour the Washington State University Breadlab and participate in a roundtable with agriculture and farm stakeholders. The USTR office says the roundtable in Burlington, Washington, will discuss how trade can help Washington’s agriculture and farm industries. A second roundtable planned later in the day in Seattle will focus on a worker-centered trade policy. Tai visited with farmers in Wisconsin last month. The Biden administration has yet to name a Chief Agriculture Negotiator, and Tai has largely discussed ag issues with trading partners herself. Lawmakers asked for a nomination during a congressional hearing last week, and earlier in July, sent a letter to President Joe Biden. The lawmakers wrote, "A Chief Agricultural Negotiator would help expand our agricultural trade and enhance the agricultural economy of our country." *********************************************************************************** American Bakers Association Seeks RFS Rollback U.S. bread and donut makers want the Biden administration to roll back biofuels targets, claiming the Renewable Fuel Standard could raise the cost of their products. The American Bakers Association confirmed to Reuters association leaders met with the Environmental Protection Agency last week, requesting reduced biofuel blending mandates. Of particular interest to the industry is soy and canola oil, used for biofuels and food ingredients. The association seeks biofuel targets at a level last seen in 2019, or no new growth in mandates. EPA is again delayed in releasing new biofuel volume requirements for the upcoming year. Roughly 40 percent of U.S. soy oil goes to biofuels, with the rest for food ingredients. In response, National Biodiesel Board Vice President Kurt Kovarik told Reuters, "Undercutting the Renewable Fuel Standard is not a solution,” citing trade wars, pandemic disruptions, and adverse weather impacts to agriculture. The American Bakers Association represents companies such as Kroger, Krispy Kreme, and others. *********************************************************************************** Union Raises Concerns Over Tyson Vaccine Mandate A meatpacking union representing 24,000 Tyson Foods workers is concerned over the new Tyson vaccine mandate. United Food and Commercial Workers International President Marc Perrone says, “While we support and encourage workers getting vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus…it is concerning that Tyson is implementing this mandate before the FDA has fully approved the vaccine." The union urged all frontline businesses to negotiate vaccine policies directly with their frontline workers and provide paid vaccine leave so that workers can get vaccinated without worrying about losing a paycheck. Tyson provides a $200 bonus for workers to get vaccinated and up to four hours of pay for getting vaccinated outside of work or through an external provider. Roughly 56,000 of Tyson‘s 120,000 employees are vaccinated. Office workers face a deadline of October 1 to be vaccinated fully, while plant employees have until November 1. Since February, Tyson Foods has hosted more than 100 vaccination events for employees. *********************************************************************************** Grassley, Smith Introduce Healthy Dog Importation Act Senators Chuck Grassley and Tina Smith Wednesday introduced the Healthy Dog Importation Act. The Iowa Republican and Minnesota Democrat say the bill would expand USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services program by providing additional tools to monitor and safeguard the health of dogs imported into the country. Grassley states the bill “will expand an already existing program to ensure that all dogs entering the country are healthy and not at risk of spreading dangerous diseases.” Smith adds, “Mitigating the spread of foreign diseases in dogs will help keep domestic and wild animals healthy.” In addition, the legislation would require every imported dog to have a certificate of veterinary inspection from a licensed veterinarian. The health certificate must certify that the dog has received all required vaccinations and demonstrated negative test results. This legislation would also create an online database containing documentation and import permits to ensure dogs entering the U.S. are being properly screened. *********************************************************************************** Study: U.S. Pork Industry Needs More Access to Foreign-Born Workforce A new study says the U.S. pork industry needs access to more foreign-born labor to remain sustainable. The study, authored by Iowa State University economists, was recently updated to reflect the current state of the labor market. The National Pork Producers Council says the study underscores the urgent need for agriculture labor reform. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, "The U.S. pork industry has a critical labor shortage that needs to be urgently addressed." According to the study, from 2001-2020, employment in the U.S. pork industry grew by an annual rate of 1.5 percent, four times faster than employment growth in all U.S. industries. Despite expanded wages and jobs, the U.S. pork industry faces a significant domestic labor shortage due to a dwindling and aging rural labor population where hog farms and harvest facilities are located. From 2014-2019, the rural labor force shrank in five of the eight top pork-producing states, according to the study. *********************************************************************************** USDA Extends Beef Checkoff Petition Drive Deadline Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack this week granted an extension to organizers of the National Beef Checkoff Petition Drive until October 3, 2021. The extension grants extra time for organizers to collect the necessary signatures on the petition calling for a producer vote of the National Beef Checkoff Program. The South Dakota Livestock Auction Markets Association and Kansas-based Stratford Angus organized and initiated a petition drive that began July 2, 2020. The Department of Agriculture originally established a 12-month period for the collection of the required 88,269 signatures. R-CALF USA and other groups have helped collect signatures but due to COVID-19-related restrictions, were unable to meet with cattle producers for several months in locations such as livestock auction yards and public meeting places. As a result, the organizers and assisting groups were relying upon an online petition site to collect signatures. That site, located at www.checkoffvote.com, currently has 18,790 signed petitions.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday August 5, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, along with weekly U.S. jobless claims, U.S. trade deficit data for June and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Energy Department releases its weekly natural gas inventory report at 9:30 a.m. and USDA will release export data for June some time Thursday morning. Weather Scattered showers across Minnesota and Iowa on Thursday could turn stronger in the afternoon as a weak front moves through the region. Other more isolated showers will be found across the Southeast and Northwest. Showers in the Northwest are too late to benefit the wheat crop.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 4, 2021 |


Ag Economy Barometer Holds Steady The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer leveled off after two months of sharp declines. The July reading is 134, down only three points from June. Both producers’ sentiment regarding current and future conditions also dropped. The Index of Current Conditions dropped six points to a reading of 143, primarily due to weaker crop prices. The Index of Future Expectations dropped two points to 130. This month’s sentiment index marked the lowest barometer reading since July of 2020. Producer sentiment regarding their farms’ financial condition was more optimistic when prices for corn, soybeans, and wheat were surging last fall, winter, and into the early spring. Still, recent sentiment readings suggest farmers remain cautiously optimistic about financial conditions on their farms. The Farm Financial Performance Index, which asks producers about expectations for their farms’ financial performance this year compared to last year, improved three points to a reading of 99. That’s 43 percent higher than July of 2020. The Farm Capital Investment Index declined for the fourth consecutive month, dropping four points to a reading of 50 as farmers plan to reduce their farm building and grain bin purchases for the upcoming year. Over half the producers indicated they expected a rise in the price of inputs by at least four percent during the year ahead. ********************************************************************************************** Barchart Raises U.S. Crop Forecasts on Higher Yields, Cuts Canadian Wheat Prediction Barchart released its August 2021 Yield and Production forecasts for U.S. crops. “Our forecasts for U.S. field crop production have been revised higher on the back of increased yield expectations for both corn and soybeans and are now broadly in line with USDA’s most recent predictions,” says Keith Peterson of Barchart. The U.S. corn forecast is 15 billion bushels on a yield of 180.3 bushels per acre. That’s compared to USDA’s 15.1 billion bushels of production and 179.5 bushels per acre. Barchart predicts U.S. soybean production will be 4.4 billion bushels on a yield of 51 bushels per acre. This compares to USDA’s forecast of 4.48 billion bushels and 50.8 bushels per acre. The company predicts the U.S. Hard Red Winter Wheat yield will be 45.5 bushels per acre, compared to USDA’s yield forecast of 53.6 bushels per acre, including all winter wheat varieties. “We’ve cut our Canadian production forecasts for both soybeans and wheat, with the Spring Wheat forecast down almost 10 percent from July,” Petersen says. “This comes on the back of severe drought conditions across the Canadian prairies.” Their Canadian wheat forecast is for 816 million bushels, and the soybean forecast is for 225.2 million bushels, with a yield of 42.6 bushels per acre. ********************************************************************************************** EU/U.S. Plan to End Steel Tariffs Good News for Agriculture The U.S. and the European Union plan to settle the dispute about longstanding steel and aluminum tariffs by November 1. Capital Press says it’s good news for America’s steel industry, and that indirectly is good news for agriculture. Conversations about Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act relating to steel and aluminum tariffs have been moving forward, and an EU trade official told Politico that,” Both sides have confirmed readiness to find a solution by November 1.” The original agreement deadline was December 31. If the agreement leads to a limitation on the volume of EU steel coming into the U.S. market, that could impact American agricultural manufacturers and farmers. Because of duties on imported steel under the Trump and Biden administrations, U.S. steel prices in 2021 are at record highs. That’s good for American steel manufacturers but difficult for agricultural equipment manufacturers and farmers. What happens in the fall conversations could influence the price of steel, although any decision will only be binding on the U.S. and EU, not China or any of the other major steel exporters around the world. ********************************************************************************************** Senate Subcommittee Approves FY22 Bill with Disaster Aid The Senate Ag Appropriations Committee approved a $25.85 billion fiscal-year 2022 bill for the Agriculture Department and related agencies, including $7 billion in disaster aid. Subcommittee Chair Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin says the bipartisan legislation is a product of Democrats and Republicans working together to support a stronger and more resilient ag economy that works for farmers, ranchers, and families in rural communities. “This bipartisan legislation will drive economic opportunities to farmers and invest in the long-term health of our working lands,” Baldwin says. “It will also invest in broadband and ensure that people facing challenging times have tools to move towards nutrition, health, and housing security.” The bill also includes investments to support the Dairy Business Innovation Program, Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative, and research priorities for dairy, specialty crops, and organic farmers. The fiscal year 2022 appropriation bill includes $2.5 billion more than the 2020 funding levels. The full Senate Appropriations Committee will take up the legislation on Wednesday. The disaster assistance funds will help producers who suffered losses due to drought, hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and other qualifying disasters during 2020 and 2021. *********************************************************************************************** Competitive Meat Market Bill Introduced in House, Senate Legislation to create tax incentives supporting small and mid-sized meat processing plants was introduced by Republicans in the House and Senate. The Hagstrom Report says the goal of the bill is to help cattle producers compete for better prices. A news release says the Feed America by Incentivizing Rural Meat Packing (FAIR) Act says that the bill will make sure the nation’s cattle producers get a level playing field and fair prices for their products, as well as lower prices for consumers in their local grocery stores. “The success of the Kansas economy relies heavily on the cattle industry at every step from pasture to plate,” says Kansas Senator Roger Marshall. “We must ensure robust competition at the packing level by providing butcher shops and medium-sized packers more opportunity for success.” Missouri Representative Jason Smith says, “Our cattlemen are some of the hardest working people in the country and deserve access to fair markets. Unfortunately, if the mega meatpackers continue their stranglehold on the market, our hardworking producers don’t stand a chance.” South Dakota Representative Dusty Johnson says, “There’s no silver bullet, but several reforms continue to move us in the right direction. The FAIR Meat Packing Act is one of those reforms.” *********************************************************************************************** FFA Chapters Sharing Ag Education with Local Elementaries FFA Chapters in states across the country are sharing the story of agriculture with their local elementary students. The National FFA Organization teamed up with Zoetis, the Indiana State Fair, and the LEAP Foundation for an agricultural literacy project that introduced swine production to students. “As a long-time supporter of the National FFA Organization, Zoetis (Zoe-EH-tis) is a proud sponsor of ‘There’s a Pig in my Classroom,’” says Shari Westerfeld, Vice President for U.S. Pork. “This program provides FFA members with a great opportunity to interact with young students, exposing them to FFA and educating them on how pigs are cared for and where pork products come from.” The project allows students to share information on swine production with others and culminates with a virtual field trip to the Fair Oaks Farm Pig Adventure. The FFA Organization says this partnership is an opportunity for their members to introduce agriculture to a younger generation. They hope that members can engage students in telling the agriculture story to others and inspire a future generation of leaders. Students from 20 states ranging from California to West Virginia are involved in the project. The FFA Chapters will teach two pre-lessons, assist with the virtual field trip, and teach one post-lesson.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday August 4, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets At 7:15 a.m. CDT Wednesday, the private firm, ADP, reports on private sector job growth for July, a possible hint for Friday's unemployment report. The U.S. Energy Department has its weekly energy inventory report at 9:30 a.m., including ethanol production. Traders will continue to examine the latest weather forecasts and any export sales news that develops. Weather Isolated showers will be found with a weak disturbance moving through the Central and Northern Plains on Wednesday. Scattered showers will also be noted near the Gulf Coast and Southeast throughout the day as well. Temperatures will continue on a slight rising trend but are still mild east of the Mississippi River.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 3, 2021 |


EPA and Army Corps Announce Next Steps on Writing “WOTUS” The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army announced plans for community engagements to let people know about their efforts to revise the definition of “WOTUS,” or the Waters of the U.S rule. The goal of the rewrite is to better ensure clean and safe water for everyone. The EPA and the Army say they are committed to developing a reasonable, effective, and durable definition of WOTUS that protects public health, the environment, and downstream communities while supporting economic opportunity, agriculture, and other industries. “We will craft an enduring definition of WOTUS by listening to all sides so that we can build on an inclusive foundation,” says EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “Uncertainty over the definition of WOTUS has harmed our waters and the stakeholders and communities that rely on them. I look forward to engaging all parties as we move forward to provide the certainty that’s needed to protect our national resources.” The agencies will revise the WOTUS definition by following a process that includes two rulemakings. “It’s vital that farmers and rural Americans have a seat at the table and a voice in this process so that the rule responds to concerns and realities on the ground,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “All stakeholders should share their experiences and views to help shape future policy.” ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Pleased with Southern Border Legislation Late last week, Texas Republican Representative August Pfluger (FLOO-ger) introduced the bipartisan RAPID Act. “RAPID” stands for Reimbursing Agriculture Producers for Immigration Damages. Other members of the Texas Congressional delegation signed on to the bill to help create a reimbursement program for producers that incur losses caused by illegal border crossings. Under the bill, producers could be reimbursed for livestock losses, damage to fences or physical structures, or property losses, all of which currently occur at the border due to those crossing the border illegally. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is grateful to the lawmakers who are supporting policies that protect cattle farmers and ranchers that are simply trying to raise not only their livestock but their families on the land. “Texas ranchers are facing significant hardships amid a flood of illegal border crossings and must continually fix cut fences and damaged infrastructure,” says Hughes Abell, president of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. “As stewards of large sections of the Southern Border, ranchers suffer a disproportionate share of the burden associated with illegal border crossings,” says Ethan Lane, NCBA VP of Government Affairs. “Not only do the crossings damage property and livestock, but they also endanger ranchers and their families.” ********************************************************************************************** NBB Campaigns for Commitment to Renewable Fuel Standard The National Biodiesel Board launched an ad campaign calling on President Biden to maintain his commitment to the Renewable Fuel Standard. The ads will air on more than 200 radio stations. “As a candidate last August, Joe Biden called the Renewable Fuel Standard ‘our bond with our farmers and our commitment to a thriving rural economy.’ But now there are reports he’s considering handouts to oil refiners at the expense of biodiesel producers and soybean farmers,” the ad says. “Contact your member of Congress and let them know that it’s time for the president to make good on his promise to support Midwest farmers and biodiesel producers.” Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President for Federal Affairs, says, “The Renewable Fuel Standard is a vital policy for the biodiesel industry and soybean producers. Instability in the program creates economic uncertainty for the communities where biodiesel production generates jobs and economic growth.” As members of Congress return to their home states this summer, Kovarik wants them to hear the message and encourage the president to maintain his commitment to the RFS program and our rural communities. The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industry support 65,000 jobs and more than $17 billion in economic activity every year. ********************************************************************************************** Groups Petition to Relist Gray Wolf as Endangered Species Last week, a coalition of 70 groups filed a formal petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to re-list the gray wolf on the Endangered Species Act. The gray wolf has been protected under the Act since 1978, and since then, wolf populations have risen in several states, including California, Illinois, Minnesota, and many others. On January fourth of this year, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the gray wolf had recovered to the point that it was no longer an endangered species. That means management of wolf populations would return to the states. The Sierra Nevada Daily says the petition calls for the Fish and Wildlife Service to protect wolves in the Western U.S. as a “Distinct Population Segment.” The groups say that wolves remain completely absent from suitable habitats or perilously close to extinction in many western states, and the handful of states surrounding Yellowstone National Park are now driving the larger populations toward extinction. The petitioners also point out that, “The American West has vast tracts of public lands that offer the ideal habitat for gray wolves. To return the wolf and restore the balance of nature, it is necessary to apply federal protections that supersede anti-wolf state politics that push wolf populations toward extinction rather than recovery.” *********************************************************************************************** Brazil Corn Crop Yield Hits Ten-Year Low Poor weather caused second-corn crop yields in south-central Brazil to drop to the lowest level in ten years. Reuters says after drought and frost combined to spoil much of the crop, Brazilian farmers are now expecting to harvest 51.6 million tons, almost 19 million tons below the 70.5 million they brought in during the last harvest. “Failure of the 2021 corn crop, planted with much delay due to the later soybean harvest, was the result of the lack of rain in most of the producing areas in April and May,” says Brazilian agribusiness consultancy AgRural. “The frost starting at the end of June and lasting until now reduced yields and also caused quality problems.” The spoiled second-corn crop hurt Brazil’s export prospects and increased the need for corn imports. The cold and damp weather over the previous weeks also limited farmers’ harvesting pace, with growers collecting just 46 percent of their corn in south-central Brazil through last Thursday, below the 61 percent they’d harvested at the same point in 2020. Second corn is planted after soybeans are harvested and is the country’s main corn crop. It accounts for approximately 70-75 percent of all production in a given year. *********************************************************************************************** CHS Expanding E15 Availability CHS Incorporated is expanding access to higher ethanol blends by offering E15 at 19 additional terminals beginning this month. CHS is registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as an E15 manufacturer and sells E15 as an approved fuel-grade through its many retail locations. CHS will offer E15 at terminal locations ranging from Minnesota to Nebraska, North Dakota to Iowa, as well as in Missouri. “As the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative, expanding options for ethanol-blended fuel is important for our Cenex brand retailers and our farmer-owners,” CHS says in a release. “We have always been committed to offering ethanol-blended flexible fuels through our network of 1,450 Cenex brand retail facilities.” The company continues to demonstrate that commitment by working with its terminal partners to offer higher ethanol blends in a broader geography across its retail network. To make E15 more accessible, CHS removed barriers for its Cenex brand retail locations by establishing an EPA-approved misfuelling mitigation plan, becoming the only E15 refiner to do so, and establishing E15 as a qualifying grade of fuel.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday August 3, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets U.S. factory orders are due out at 9 a.m. CDT Tuesday and there are no other official reports on the docket. Traders will continue to keep a close watch on the latest weather forecasts and on any export news that emerges. Weather Scattered showers will continue across the Gulf Coast and into the Southeast on Tuesday. A weak disturbance will move into the far northwestern Plains with some isolated showers as well. Other areas will remain dry and a couple of degrees warmer than Monday.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 2, 2021 |


New Indictments in Broiler Chicken Conspiracy Koch (Coke) Foods, Incorporated, and four Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation executives were charged for their role in an alleged broiler chicken price-fixing scheme. The indictment is the latest action in an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice. DTN says in February, Pilgrim’s Pride admitted to its role in a 2012 conspiracy to fix the price of broiler chickens. The company will pay $107.9 million as a part of its plea agreement in federal court. The new indictment alleges the defendants worked together to suppress and eliminate competition for sales of broiler chicken products. Those chickens are raised for human consumption and sold to restaurants and grocery stores. The four executives and Koch Foods have been charged with violating the Sherman Antitrust Act. The four Pilgrim’s Pride executives will make their initial appearance in court on August 11. Violating the act results in a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a one million dollar fine for individuals, as well as a $100 million fine for corporations. The indictment says the conspiracy goes back to 2012 and uses repeated text messages among the four men that discussed bids and prices for poultry contacts or overall market prices as the basis for the allegations. Those messages allegedly continued through 2017. ********************************************************************************************** Dominican Republic Enlists Military to Fight ASF The Dominican Republic is limiting shipments of pigs and mobilizing its military to contain the spread of African Swine Fever. Reuters says the Dominican ag ministry made the announcement as the U.S. and Mexico tightened border checks to avoid spreading the infection. The U.S. and Mexico are both boosting airport inspections to stop travelers from bringing in Dominican pork products that could carry the virus. Both countries had previously blocked pork imports from the Dominican Republic. U.S. testing of almost 400 samples from Dominican-raised hogs from farms and backyards shows that the disease is in a small population of backyard pigs in two provinces, which together contain almost 20,000 pigs. The total Dominican herd numbers 1.8 million. The ag ministry is prohibiting live and slaughtered pig movement from those provinces, noting that there will be “total military control in all strategic points of both provinces,” and the ministry will help disinfect affected areas. The disease originated in Africa before it spread to Asia and Europe, killing hundreds of millions of pigs and reshaping global meat and feed markets. ********************************************************************************************** Federal Court Rejects NPPC Challenge to Prop 12 in California The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals turned down the National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau’s petition to strike down Proposition 12 as unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. “We are disappointed in the court’s decision and stand by our position on Proposition 12,” says NPPC spokesman Jim Monroe. “It’s a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. We are evaluating the decision and our next steps.” The court said for dormant Commerce Clause purposes, laws that increase compliance costs, without more, do not constitute a significant burden on interstate commerce. The court’s decision was 3-0. The court also says the complaint against California “fails to make a plausible allegation that the pork industry is of such national concern that it is analogous to taxation or interstate travel, where uniform rules are crucial.” Pork Business Dot Com says Prop 12 will go into effect on January 1, 2022, and will impose animal housing standards that reach far outside the state’s borders to farms across the country. NPPC says that will drive up costs for both pork producers and consumers. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, “After everything producers have faced in recent years, now farmers are faced with a federal district court decision that will result in a 2.5 percent loss of national pork harvest capacity.” *********************************************************************************************** Senators Introduce Legislation to Uphold Navigable Waters Protection Rule Republican Senators on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee led the introduction of legislation to codify the 2020 Navigable Waters Protection Act. U.S. farmers need certainty in the guidelines, so the Navigable Waters Protection Act of 2021 will provide it. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley was one of the senators behind the legislation. “I’ve worked over the years to put a stop to water rules that would be unworkable for farmers, real estate developers, and landowners,” Grassley says. “Our farmers and businesses are good stewards of the land, and we need to have a real law on the books so Americans can move forward without burdensome regulations.” Grassley and fellow Iowa Senator Joni Ernst wrote a letter to Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to express concerns over the Biden Administration’s decision to roll back the previous administration’s Navigable Waters Protection Rule. He also gave a speech on the Senate floor highlighting the devastating effects if the rule gets rolled back. Earlier this year, the Iowa senators joined together on a Senate resolution that expressed the need for the Senate to stand with farmers, ranchers, and other important stakeholders by supporting the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. *********************************************************************************************** NIFA and NSF Investing $220 Million in Artificial Intelligence Research The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the National Science Federation announced a $220 million investment in 11 new NSF-led Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes. NIFA and other agencies and organizations have partnered with the NSF to pursue transformational advances in a range of economic sectors and science and engineering fields, ranging from food system security to next-generation edge networks. “These investments in new institutes leverage the scientific power of U.S. land-grant universities in close partnerships with farmers, producers, educators, and innovators to provide sustainable crop production solutions and address these pressing societal challenges,” says NIFA Director Carrie Castille. “These centers will speed our ability to meet critical needs in the future agriculture workforce, providing equitable and fair market access, increasing nutrition security, and providing tools for climate-smart agriculture.” Washington State University is one of the 11 institutions to receive funding and will work to integrate AI methods into agriculture operations for prediction, decision support, and robotics-enabled agriculture to address complex challenges. They’ll look to deliver solutions related to labor, water, weather, and climate change. *********************************************************************************************** Minnesota Farmer Elected New Chair of USGC Delegates at the U.S. Grains Council’s Summer Meeting elected Minnesota farmer Chad Willis as chairman of its Board of Directors. Willis represents the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council on the board and says he was drawn to the Council because he needs dependable markets to sustain his operation. “As I’ve served the Council and as I’ve been able to see firsthand by traveling to other countries, it’s a two-way street,” he said in opening remarks. “We need each other.” Willis also added that as the organization recognizes the importance of their grain markets, USGC must continue to build on the value-added markets for DDGS and ethanol. “The value of global trade has so much potential if we work together to access them,” he adds. Willis has been farming since 1997 and has worked in both the corn milling and feed industries. He was a member of the Minnesota Corn Research and Promotion Council before serving on its board. Brent Boydston of Bayer Crop Science was elected the Council’s Secretary-Treasurer. Joshua Miller of the Indiana Corn Marketing Council is the Vice-Chairman.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday August 2, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will be examining rainfall amounts and the latest weather forecasts. The Institute of Supply Management's index of U.S. manufacturing is due out at 9 a.m. CDT Monday, followed by USDA's weekly grain export inspections at 10 a.m. USDA's Fats and Oils report will show the June soybean crush at 2 p.m., shortly before USDA posts the latest crop ratings in the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather A cold front will remain active across the South with scattered showers from Texas to the Carolinas. The rest of the primary growing areas will be mild and dry with some heat developing in the Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies. Conditions continue to favor corn and soybeans in the southeast growing areas with unfavorable dryness in the northwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 30, 2021 |


House Ag Leaders Urge House Vote on Broadband Bill Leaders of the House Agriculture Committee Thursday called for a full-House vote on a bipartisan rural broadband bill. Chairman David Scott and Ranking Member Glenn GT Thompson requested that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Republican leadership bring the Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act to the House Floor for a vote. The bill provides USDA with an authorization of $43.2 billion, which received a unanimous committee vote on July 14, 2021. In a letter to House leadership, Scott and Thompson jointly say, “We write today to ask you for your assistance for a floor vote on our bipartisan legislation.” The lawmakers say it is vitally important that USDA, with its unique expertise, experience, and 159-year history serving rural America, provide the leading role in the nation’s rural broadband strategy. Overall, the investments provide opportunities for rural communities to invest in the health and well-being of their communities, incentivize business growth, and expand economic opportunities. *********************************************************************************** Dominican Republic Confirmed Positive for African Swine Fever The Department of Agriculture announced this week that the Dominican Republic has confirmed cases of African swine fever. The cases were confirmed as part of a cooperative surveillance program between the United States and the Dominican Republic. The United States remains free of ASF, an animal disease affecting only pigs with no human health implications, and imports no pork, animal feed or other pork-related products from the Dominican Republic. While the finding is concerning, National Pork Producers Council chief veterinarian Liz Wagstrom states, “The United States has significantly bolstered biosecurity to protect the U.S. swine herd since ASF broke in China nearly three years ago.” NPPC urges producers use caution when hosting on-farm visitors from an ASF-positive region, review biosecurity protocols and visit with feed suppliers to discuss the origin of feed ingredients. Additionally, NPPC encourages producers to fill out the Foreign Animal Disease Preparation Checklist and enroll in the Secure Pork Supply program. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces $67 Million to Help Resolve Land Ownership and Succession Issues Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Thursday announced $67 million in competitive loans through the new Heirs' Property Relending Program. The program aims to help producers and landowners resolve heirs' land ownership and succession issues. Intermediary lenders, cooperatives, credit unions, and nonprofit organizations, can apply for loans up to $5 million at one percent interest once the Farm Service Agency opens the two-month signup window in late August. After FSA selects lenders, heirs can apply directly to those lenders for loans and assistance. Heirs' property issues have long been a barrier for producers and landowners to access USDA programs and services. The relending program provides access to capital to help producers find a resolution. Heirs may use the loans to resolve title issues by financing the purchase or consolidation of property interests and financing costs associated with a succession plan. Heirs may not use loans for any land improvement, development purpose, or payment of operating costs. *********************************************************************************** Midwest Lawmakers Urge Biden to Consider Biofuels in Environment Agenda A group of Midwestern Senators urge the Biden administration to consider biofuels like ethanol as part of its environmental agenda. The climate focus by the administration includes a push towards electric vehicles. The lawmakers tell the administration in a letter,” Unfortunately, the promise of homegrown biofuels and our agriculture sector appear to be woefully underrepresented in your administration’s energy, environmental, and transportation agenda.” The group requested a meeting with President Joe Biden and cabinet members to discuss immediate and intermediate steps the administration can take to feature American agriculture and biofuels as part of the energy and environmental agenda. The lawmakers say recent studies have found corn ethanol to have 46 percent lower lifecycle emissions than gasoline. The letter also asks the administration to rigorously implement the Renewable Fuel Standard. Senate Republicans John Thune, Chuck Grassley, Roy Blunt, Jerry Moran, Deb Fischer, Mike Rounds, Joni Ernst, Ben Sasse and Roger Marshall signed the letter. *********************************************************************************** USDA Releases Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry The Department of Agriculture Thursday unveiled an Economic Impact Analysis of the U.S. Biobased Products Industry. The report demonstrates that the biobased industry is a substantial generator of economic activity and jobs, and that it has a significant positive impact on the environment. According to the report, in 2017, the biobased products industry supported 4.6 million jobs, contributed $470 billion to the U.S. economy and generated 2.79 jobs in other sectors of the economy for every biobased job. Additionally, biobased products displace approximately 9.4 million barrels of oil annually, and have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 12.7 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents per year. USDA deputy undersecretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced the report on the 10th anniversary of the creation of USDA’s Certified Biobased Product Label. Maxson says, “Biobased products are widely known for having a substantially lower impact on the environment compared to petroleum-based and other non-biobased products.” *********************************************************************************** USDA: 2021 Food Prices Rise Slower Than 2020 Retail food prices have increased 1.6 percent in the first six months of 2021, less than the rate over the same period last year. The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service says the 2021 increase is equal to the historical average over the same six months from 2000 to 2019. In the first six months of 2021, prices for five food categories increased at a rate slower than in 2020 and years prior, including eggs, dairy, fresh vegetables, cereals and bakery products, and "other foods." Conversely, prices for three food categories increased in the first six months of 2021 at a rate faster than in 2020 and in years prior, including fresh fruits, fish and seafood, and fats and oils. Inflationary pressures differ by food category, according to USDA. For example, fresh fruit prices currently are increasing more than four times faster than their historical average rate because of low citrus supplies and increased exports.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 30, 2021 |


Washington Insider: African Swine Fever Closer to Home Europe and Asia are the areas in the world where African swine fever (ASF) has been the most prevalent. But USDA has now confirmed that ASF has been found in the Dominican Republic. USDA's Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory confirmed ASF in samples from pigs in the Dominican Republic via a cooperative surveillance program, USDA announced. Dominican Republic officials said that testing of 389 samples from farm-raised and backyard pigs was conducted, and ASF was found in a "small population of backyard pigs from Sanchez Ramirez and Montecristi provinces." According to the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), pork and pork products are already banned from entering the U.S. due to restrictions linked to classical swine fever, and the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is "increasing inspections of flights from the Dominican Republic to ensure travelers do not bring prohibited products" into the U.S. APHIS also said that CBP will also be "ensuring that garbage from these airplanes are properly disposed of to prevent the transmission of ASF." USDA said it has offered additional testing support and will consult with the country on any additional steps of actions to "support response and mitigation measures." USDA has offered similar help to Haiti that shares a border with the Dominican Republic and has a "high risk" for ASF. The Dominican Republic said they were halting pig movements in two provinces and are mobilizing the military as they seek to contain ASF. The two provinces where the finds were will be quarantined, the government said. There are about 1.8 million hogs in the Dominican Republic, with 15,000 in the Sanchez Ramirez province and another 4,600 in the Montecristi province. This is not the country's first find of ASF as the World Animal Health Organization (OIE) said that a 1978 outbreak resulted in the country killing its entire hog herd. Mexico has also acted as a result of the situation, announcing they will work with pork producers in the country to make sure that sanitary measures are up to snuff and that there is "epidemiological surveillance" due to the find. Actions including reinforcing animal inspections at all ports, airports and border crossings, the country's Ag Ministry said, and kitchen and waste on commercial ships, cruise ships and airplanes will be returned to its origin country or the ministry ensures it is properly destroyed. The U.S. stepped up its efforts when ASF appeared in Asia. USDA is working closely with other federal and state agencies, the swine industry, and producers to take the necessary actions to protect our nation's pigs and keep this disease out. So we will see. One has to believe that if the U.S. avoided getting this in 1978 when it previously struck the Dominican Republic, ideally new and updates surveillance efforts should keep the U.S. even more protected. But this remains a very important situation to watch, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 30, 2021 |


Jacobs-Young Nominated as USDA Undersecretary. President Joe Biden on Wednesday announced his intention to nominate Chavonda Jacobs-Young as USDA undersecretary for research, education and economics. Jacobs-Young is administrator of the USDA Agricultural Research Service and serves as acting undersecretary for research, education and economics and acting USDA chief scientist. She would be the first woman and person of color to lead this division of USDA, which manages an annual budget of $1.82 billion, the White House said. The role of USDA undersecretary for trade and foreign agriculture is still open along with the chief ag negotiator spot at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 30, 2021 |


US List of Facilities Eligible to Export to China Expands USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service has released an updated list of slaughter, processing or cold storage establishments that are eligible to export product to China. Under the Phase One agreement with China, FSIS certifies establishments to the General Administration of China Customs (GACC) and those facilities must be listed on the GACC website before slaughtering and processing products for export to China. A notification on the GACC site said that six U.S. facilities were added to the list of those eligible. Information from FSIS indicates that on July 26 and 27, a total of eight facilities were added to the approved list for beef, seven were added for pork, and six were added for poultry. There have been 37 poultry plants added in 2021, bringing the total to 529; 31 have been added in 2021 for pork for a total of 508; and 34 added this year for beef bringing the total to 547.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 30, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The Labor Department issues its Employment Cost Index and a report on U.S. personal incomes for June is also due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday. The University of Michigan's index of consumer sentiment for July is set for 9 a.m. CDT. Traders will continue to examine the latest weather forecasts and any hint of export sales news. Weather A system building off a frontal boundary in Nebraska and South Dakota will produce moderate to heavy rainfall from South Dakota southeast through northern Missouri on Friday. This includes the eastern half of Nebraska and western half of Iowa with good rainfall amounts for reproductive corn and soybeans.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 29, 2021 |


House Agriculture Hearing Echoes NCBA Push for More Hook Space The National Cattlemen's Beef Association says a House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing Wednesday echoed the organization's longstanding call to expand processing capacity. The Livestock and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee hearing on the State of the Beef Supply Chain, examined shocks in the supply chain. Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa says the shocks have "impacted millions of people along the entire supply chain.” Members of the committee also noted the need for greater transparency in cattle markets to create conditions that support both a reliable, affordable supply of U.S. beef. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane states, “The continued momentum we are seeing on expanding processing capacity, both on Capitol Hill and at USDA, is a positive sign.” Cattle industry concerns have seen increased attention recently from both sides of the aisle as NCBA has advocated for “commonsense solutions” that address the most urgent challenges facing producers, including legislation to help small and independent processors expand capacity. *********************************************************************************** Toomey, Shaheen Reintroduce Bill to Overhaul U.S. Sugar Program Lawmakers this week in the House and Senate introduced the Fair Sugar Policy Act of 2021 to reform the federal sugar support program. Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democrat Jeanne Shaheen introduced the bill in the Senate. In the House, North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx, and Democrat Danny Davis introduced the bill. The lawmakers say the federal sugar support program currently costs consumers and businesses as much as $4 billion per year. Specifically, the legislation would lift restrictions on the domestic supply of refined sugar. The bill would also reduce taxpayer liability for sugar processor loan forfeitures and ensure that the impact on consumers, manufacturers and farmers is taken into account when the USDA administers the sugar program. Finally, the bill would reduce market distortions caused by sugar import quotas. Toomey states, “It is long past time we reform this corporate welfare program that jacks up food prices while threatening thousands of good-paying jobs.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Extends Crop Insurance Deadlines USDA’s Risk Management Agency this week authorized Approved Insurance Providers to extend deadlines for producers. The extension includes premium and administrative fee payments, deferring and waiving the resulting interest accrual and other flexibilities to help farmers and ranchers through widespread drought. Producers now have additional time to pay premium and administrative fees, and interest will be waived for 60 days or the termination date on the policy, whichever comes first. RMA also authorized AIPs to waive interest for an additional 60 days for Written Payment Agreements due between August 1 and September 30, 2021. RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy states, “Farmers and ranchers are weathering tough drought conditions this year, and we want to help ease the burden by extending payment deadlines and deferring interest accrual.” Additionally, RMA updated policy in June to allow producers with crop insurance to hay, graze or chop cover crops at any time and still receive 100 percent of the prevented planting payment. *********************************************************************************** USB: Consumer Research Unpacks Protein Perceptions The United Soybean Board Wednesday released new consumer data shedding light on consumer perceptions around protein. More than half of consumers, 56 percent, say it is extremely or very important that plant-based proteins be complete, offering nutrition comparable to animal protein. Soy protein is uniquely positioned to help the food industry capitalize on current trends and consumer interests due to its protein quality, versatility and sustainability benefits, according to USB. The data shows most consumers recognize that protein is important to maintaining a healthy and balanced diet, with 82 percent of consumers ages 50 and under agreeing that it is extremely or very important. General health and wellness was given as the top reason for adding protein, animal- or plant-based, to their diets. The study also found the majority of U.S. consumers at 79 percent eat meat, and that 65 percent of the population is open to eating plant-based “flexitarian-friendly” food, with higher numbers reported among younger generations. *********************************************************************************** Purdue Survey Shows Indiana Farmland Prices Hit Record High in 2021 The Purdue Farmland Value and Cash Rents Survey shows farmland prices across Indiana reached all-time highs in June of 2021. Statewide, top-quality farmland averaged $9,785 per acre, up 14.1 percent from the same time last year. The high growth rate for top-quality farmland was closely followed by the growth in average and poor-quality farmland prices, which increased by 12.5 percent and 12.1 percent, respectively. Across all land quality classes, 2021 per-acre farmland prices exceeded the previous records set in 2014. Purdue says a unique combination of economic forces, including net farm income, expected income growth, crop and livestock prices, interest rates, exports, inflation, alternative investments, U.S. policy, and farmers' liquidity, all led to price increase. Cash rental rates also increased in 2021. Average rental rates increased by 3.9 percent for top-quality land, from $259 to $269 per acre. The cash rental rates for average- and poor-quality lands both increased by 4.6 percent to $227 and $183, respectively. *********************************************************************************** USDA Invests $21 Million To Support Historically Black Colleges and Universities The Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday an investment of over $21.8 million to 1890 Land-grant Institutions to support research at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states, “this investment will strengthen the ability of our Land-grant Institutions to deliver innovative solutions that address emerging agricultural challenges impacting diverse communities.” USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded the funds to 1890 Land-grant Institutions to support 58 projects at Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation’s Land-grant University System and organizations as part of its Capacity Building Grants program. The program is designed to build capacity for teaching, research and extension activities at eligible institutions including curriculum design, materials development, faculty development, student recruitment and retention, and extension program development support. USDA says the investment will strengthen the quality and diversity of the higher-education workforce, and equip 1890 Institutions with resources needed to better address emerging challenges and create new opportunities.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 29, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US Cattle Market Examination If there has been an issue in recent years that sparks an active discussion and lots of finger pointing, it's the U.S. cattle market. While the origins of the current discourse in Washington on the topic didn't come from a fire at a cattle processing plant in Holcomb, Kansas, it exposed the challenges in the U.S. cattle industry. Rarely have lawmakers met a problem they didn't love. But they are finding out that the solutions to addressing issues in the cattle market are not easy, and are many and varied. Many have complained about the fluctuations in the cattle market after the 2019 Kansas fire, searching for solutions on how to make the cattle market work better. There are clear camps on the issues. One is the four major cattle packers that control some 80% of the slaughter capacity in the U.S. Officials from two of the four companies -- JBS USA and Tyson Foods -- testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Shane Miller of Tyson Foods blamed the "law of supply and demand" for the price swings that have been seen. He said there have been "unprecedented market shocks" that have hit the markets the past 18 months. But National Farmers Union President Rob Larew, often a critic of the big cattle packers, countered that "market manipulation by multinational meat companies like those represented here today" were to blame. He called on the panel to "push for much more vigorous antitrust enforcement to rein in the unchecked power of the packers, and if need be, bust 'em up." When the Kansas fire took the plant out of operation, that backed up cattle in the system as they had to be moved to other locations for slaughter. That sent cattle prices down while meat prices rose at the store. Critics note that was repeated during the pandemic when plant workers caught COVID and facilities couldn't keep operating with staff. And then JBS was hit with a cyberattack and the same situation evolved on a smaller scale. President Joe Biden signed an executive order which urged that the meatpacking industry be scrutinized for anticompetitive behavior. That resulted in an announcement from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that the Agriculture Department was going to spend $500 million to get more cattle processing capacity. And they also announced another $155 million that was aimed at helping small and very-small processors stay in business and expand. But even those dollars aren't going to come right away. Vilsack was hopeful things would be happening by the end of the year, expressing confidence the federal dollars would prompt even more private-sector investment. Meanwhile, on the other side of the Hill, a House Ag subcommittee looked into the issue, bringing market analysts and academics in to given feedback to lawmakers. But even they raised issues with some of the suggested solutions, like the USDA effort to expand slaughter capacity. Perdue University ag economics chair Jayson Lusk emphasized that lawmakers should not focus to heavily on the ripple effects from things like the Kansas plant fire and the pandemic. "Make policies for the future," he urged, noting new government investments in processing capacity to improve prices paid to farmers "may be fixing yesterday's problem." Plus, he noted that the cost of building a plant is not the only issue as labor availability and regulatory issues also are a challenge. Rabo AgriFinance vice president and animal protein analyst Dustin Aherin chimed in that there are cycles in the cattle market and focusing just on boosting slaughter capacity may still not address issues. "There is a point where industry capacity goes too far to withstand cyclical periods of high cattle supplies--drought risks and cyclical fundamentals must be considered," he cautioned. Several lawmakers have pushed legislation that would require a certain percentage of cattle are sold on a cash basis in the market as opposed to via formula pricing that is sometimes less than clear. There too, Lusk cautioned, "An important distinction needs to be made between price levels and price volatility. And even if all cattle were traded on a negotiated basis, the price level would not necessarily improve." Aherin noted that mandating cash market mandates could end reducing innovation in the cattle market. "Any mandate that would dictate that we have to price a certain number of cattle off of cattle cash transactions certainly hinders the ability to adapt to maybe some new opportunities to price cattle off of beef itself, sometime down the road," he observed. So we will see. Once again, lawmakers are finding out that a solution is not as simple as passing a law. That's not to say action isn't needed. It is. But it has to be carefully considered and as the unintended consequences need to be watched very closely as they could create even more problems, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 29, 2021 |


Groups Lay Out Goals for WTO Reforms A group of U.S. ag and commodity organizations has penned a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, outlining what they would like to see done in terms of WTO reforms. "WTO reform should focus on further market-based and sustainable trade liberalization, institutional improvements that help members better prevent or address trade problems, and a more effective and efficient dispute settlement system," the groups said. They urged action on "creative new approaches" including a modest outcome for the 12th Ministerial meeting in November relative to agriculture, one that is focused on "improved transparency and notifications" that "lays the groundwork for a more ambitious work plan for MC13." And the groups also brought up a long-standing issue that the sector has urged administration after administration involved in WTO negotiations and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) before that: Agriculture's long-term goals "should not be used as a trade-off for non-agriculture outcomes."

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 29, 2021 |


Several Ag Issues Cited in Exam of USMCA After Year One The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing Tuesday to examine the status of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) one year after the trade pact started. Canada's inadequate implementation of new market access for U.S. dairy, Mexico's foot-dragging on agriculture biotech approvals, and the lack of a chief agriculture negotiator nominee were some of the key ag-related issues. The U.S. dairy industry has expressed exasperation at what they charge is a lack of Canada implementing the dairy provisions in the USMCA that were supposed to bring more market access for U.S. dairy products into Canada. And the issues aren't just with Canada. Another big concern among lawmakers and the ag industry is Mexico's lack of action on biotech crop approvals -- despite USMCA provisions requiring the approvals process to be science-based. Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) President and CEO Michelle McMurry-Heath told lawmakers the failure of Mexico to approve several new GMO crop varieties has no basis in science, calling the situation "particularly disturbing to not only our innovative agricultural businesses, but also to the investors that really support their work." So far on the agriculture front, dairy is the only case pursued by the U.S. under USMCA procedures, but pressure is clearly rising on the key GMO issues with Mexico.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 29, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, along with weekly jobless claims and updates of U.S. second-quarter GDP and the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventories is set for 9:30 a.m. Traders continue to pay close attention to the latest weather forecasts and any news of export sales. Weather Severe storms that went through the Upper Midwest along a cold front on Wednesday continue across the eastern Midwest on Thursday while continuing to push southeast. This will bring moderate to heavy rainfall for some areas of the southern Midwest and a risk for continued strong winds and hail as well. Temperatures behind the front have cooled significantly and will put an end to the heat as the front continually pushes south through the weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 28, 2021 |


House Ag Approves WHIP+ Reauthorization for 2020, 2021 The House Agriculture Committee Tuesday approved reauthorization for WHIP+ in 2020 and 2021. Chairman David Scott, a Democrat from Georgia, stated during the hearing, the severity of recent natural disasters “has required supplemental assistance, and that’s why I have prioritized extending the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus for 2020 and 2021.” Known as WHIP, the program provides payments to producers to offset losses from hurricanes, wildfires, and other qualifying natural disasters that occurred in 2018 and 2019. WHIP+ covers the losses of the crops, trees, bushes and vines that occurred as a result of those disaster events, milk losses due to adverse weather conditions, and losses to on-farm stored commodities. The bill, approved by a voice vote of the committee, would expand coverage to include the western drought, last year's derecho in Iowa, and another natural disaster in 2020 and 2021. Representative Mike Thompson, a California Democrat, introduced the bill in January. *********************************************************************************** AEM: 100,000 Equipment Manufacturing Jobs Possible Through Infrastructure Efforts More than 100,000 family-sustaining equipment manufacturing jobs can be created before the end of President Biden’s first term in office, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers. AEM says these are high-skilled jobs in primarily rural areas that pay an average annual income of $88,000, which is 35 percent above the current national average. The data comes from a study by IHS Markit, which assumes new infrastructure spending will occur over eight years, beginning in 2022, with three-quarters of the spending taking place during the first five years. Finally, it assumes that the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act of 2021 will pass in the fall of 2021 at a five-year total investment of $303 billion. AEM’s Kip Eideberg says, “It is time for policymakers on both sides of the aisle to put policy ahead of politics and pass the bipartisan infrastructure framework and secure a five-year surface transportation reauthorization as soon as possible.” *********************************************************************************** Center for Food Safety Files Lawsuit over Trump-Era GE Rule The Center for Food Safety this week filed a federal lawsuit challenging the 2020 decision by the Trump administration to eliminate most genetically engineered organism oversight. Previously nearly all GE plants had to go through formal Department of Agriculture approval before open-air experiments or prior to commercial use. However, the center claims the new Trump USDA regulations exempt broad categories of GE organisms from any pre-market approval. Center for Food Safety legal director George Kimbrell says, "The rules unlawfully eviscerate and abandon USDA's responsibility to protect farmers and the environment." Instead of strengthening rules, the lawsuit alleges the rule either exempts most GMOs from regulation or subjects them to cursory reviews that sidestep serious analysis of their actual harms. The Plaintiffs in the case are National Family Farm Coalition, Center for Food Safety, Pesticide Action Network North America, Center for Environmental Health, Friends of the Earth, and Center for Biological Diversity. *********************************************************************************** FCC Announces $311 Million for Rural Broadband Efforts The FCC this week announced more than $311 million in broadband funding through the Rural Digital opportunity fund. The FCC is ready to authorize the funding across 36 states and took steps to clear up issues with the program’s design originating from its adoption in 2020. As a result of the announcement, 48 broadband providers will bring one gigabit per second broadband speeds to nearly 200,000 homes and businesses over the next ten years and is the first funding approved through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. At the same time, the FCC also took steps to clean up the program. In light of complaints that the program was poised to fund broadband to parking lots and well-served urban areas, the FCC sent letters to 197 winning bidders. The letters offer providers an opportunity to withdraw their funding requests from those places already with service or where significant questions of waste have been raised. *********************************************************************************** NACD Announces $2.1 Million in Grants to Local Conservation Districts The National Association of Conservation Districts announced $2.1 million in technical assistance grants Tuesday. The grants were awarded to nearly 60 conservation districts in 23 states and territories. Made possible through an agreement with the Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, the grants complement the $13 million in technical assistance grants awarded to previous grantees in April of this year. NACD President Michael Crowder says, "These grants will help conservation districts carry out conservation plans for customers in high priority areas." State conservation partnership leaders helped identify high priority locations and workloads to guide where the awards would best be placed. The funds will support approximately 90 full- and part-time individuals, of whom nearly half are new hires. More than $600,000 of matching funds will be added to these awards, furthering the impact of the grants. To date, in 2021, NACD and NRCS have awarded $15 million in technical assistance grants. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces Rural Economic Development, Social Disadvantaged Farmers Funds The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced $14 million in rural economic development project investments. USDA is providing the funding through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant program, which provides zero-interest loans and grants to utilities. The utilities then lend funds to local businesses for projects that create and retain employment in rural areas. USDA Rural Development undersecretary Justin Maxson says, “These loans and grants will help rural communities build back better and support job creation.” The announcement includes investments in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee. Meanwhile, on Monday, USDA announced $16.6 million for entities that help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers own and operate successful farms. That funding comes from USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program, also known as the 2501 program. The 2501 program is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 28, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fed Decision Awaited The issue of inflation looms large as the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) -- the Fed's decision-making body -- concludes its two-day meeting Wednesday afternoon. And the topic of inflation has been one that continues to dominate a lot of attention throughout the country as consumers are seeing higher prices for several things, including food and fuel. USDA recently updated its food price inflation outlook, but surprisingly did not raise its current expectations for prices. USDA maintains an outlook for all 2.5% to 3.5% in 2021, with food at home (grocery store) prices seen rising 2% to 3% in 2021. Restaurant prices, food away from home, are forecast to gain 3% to 4% from 2020 levels. All three forecasts were steady with the prior month. That is somewhat surprising since USDA often times has made changes to its overall outlooks in July. But prices this year are seen above the 20-year average, and come after upward revisions made in their forecast last month. But consumers are coming off a period of extended favorable prices at the grocery store. Until 2020, prices had either risen far less than their 20-year average or had falling in two years going back to 2016. But after such a favorable run, it's no wonder that the food price inflation situation is of concern to consumers. After all, the pandemic caused food price inflation to push even higher in 2020 compared with the forecast levels for 2021. As COVID vaccines have been given and restrictions have been lifted, consumers have been ready to get out and eat out more than they were able to for much of 2020 -- restaurant prices were up 4.2% from June 2020. Food is one of those categories that is excluded from the Fed's favored inflation gauge -- Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE). It is a broader reading than the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and still their favored PCE data is the one that strips out food and energy, the so-called core rate. So what the Fed says about inflation when the meeting concludes Wednesday afternoon will be notable. They have insisted for months when each policy meeting has wrapped up that they see the higher prices as "transitory" and that they will not become established enough or significant enough to prompt a Fed response like raising interest rates. The Fed has also been buying Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities at a pace of $120 billion per month. The concept is that buying those bonds will lower borrowing costs for consumers and businesses, and keep economic activity moving forward as we recover from the pandemic. But one of the first policy moves they will take is to "taper" those bond purchases. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell had insisted until the June meeting that it was too soon to "talk about talking about" tapering those bond buys. But after the June meeting, he acknowledged that "talk" had begun. Expectations are that they will not have completed that discussion. But attention will be on whether or not Powell signals that they are close to a decision. That could prompt some market concerns as it will mark the start of the ending of the easy money policy by the Fed. Even so, Powell has promised there will be plenty of notice when the tapering of those bond buys start so the market will not get spooked. Still, even with all kinds of notice, some are likely to get spooked anyway. So we will see. As the Fed moves closer and closer to removing some of the easy money from the market, it will prompt response higher in interest rates and that will start to add another cost factor in for agriculture that needs to be watched very closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 28, 2021 |


China's New US Ambassador Headed to Washington China's new ambassador to the U.S., Qin Gang, is heading to Washington on Wednesday, ending speculation over who will be handed the difficult task of trying to ease fractious relations between the powers. The 55-year-old Qin has been a vice foreign minister and has had several western countries and regions in his portfolio. However, he has no direct U.S.-related experience. The South China Morning Post said he has spent the last several days meeting with U.S. businesses in Chin before departing for Washington. He replaces Cui Tiankai, 68, who was the longest serving ambassador to the U.S. and had passed the retirement age for senior Chinese ambassadors, according to Reuters. Qin has also been a spokesman for the country's foreign ministry and many believe he will potentially take a tougher line than his predecessor.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 28, 2021 |


Senate Agriculture Panel Approves Moffitt For USDA Post The Senate Agriculture Committee voted via voice vote late Monday to advance the nomination of Jennifer Moffitt to be undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs. Timing for a vote in the full Senate is not yet known. A full Senate vote on another nominee -- Janie Hipp to be general counsel -- is also uncertain as Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., said they believe a Republican Senator has a hold on the nomination. And, it's not clear for what reason as there has been little opposition heard on the Hill about Hipp

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 28, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts remain the main attention for grain traders. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventories report is due out at 9:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday. The Federal Reserve's two-day meeting will likely keep the federal funds target unchanged and concludes with an announcement at 1 p.m. CDT. The Wheat Quality Council's spring wheat tour moves to day two after estimating a yield of 29.5 bushels an acre on day one. Weather Hot temperatures continue for another day but a cold front moving through the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest will send temperatures down closer to normal Thursday. This front will also produce some strong to severe thunderstorms across the Upper Midwest that could be damaging.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 27, 2021 |


House to Consider Appropriation Bills In a flurry of activity ahead of the August recess, the House of Representatives will consider appropriation bills this week, including the agriculture spending bill. The process began Monday with the House Rules Committee. The 2022 agriculture spending bill provides discretionary funding of $26.5 billion, an increase of $2.8 billion, or 12 percent above 2021. In total, the bill includes $196.7 billion for both discretionary programs funded on an annual basis and mandatory programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The bill is part of a package of seven total spending bills being considered this week in the House, including labor, energy, financial services, interior, military and transportation. The House Agriculture Committee also scheduled a hearing Tuesday on the 2020 WHIP+ Reauthorization Act, expanding the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus to 2020. Meanwhile, the Senate looks to finalize its infrastructure package this week, ahead of the August recess, as well. *********************************************************************************** Thompson Seeks House Hearing on Senate Climate Bill The top Republican on the House Ag Committee calls for a hearing on the Senate Growing Climate Solutions Act. In a letter to Chairman David Scott, a Georgia Democrat, Glen GT Thompson of Pennsylvania says, “I write to express concerns with this legislation and request further review by the House Committee on Agriculture.” Thompson has maintained concerns of government involvement in carbon credit markets. The legislation authorizes the Department of Agriculture to establish a voluntary Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program to reduce entry barriers into voluntary environmental credit markets. Thompson counters, “I think this legislation is a solution in search of a problem,” adding, “The language is imprecise and disjointed, leaving questions related to how to interpret certain requirements and policy goals.” Sent last week, the letter requests a significant review of the bill, along with consideration of other proposals in Congress that have similar goals. *********************************************************************************** Bronaugh to Leading U.S. Delegation at UN Food Systems Pre-Summit Agriculture Deputy Secretary Jewel Bronaugh (Bruh-NAW) is leading the U.S. delegation at the United Nations Food Systems Pre-Summit in Rome this week. Leading up to the UN Food Systems Summit in New York in September, Bronaugh and U.S. officials are working with other countries and food systems stakeholders in Rome to build coalitions and consensus around shared objectives, including food security and nutrition, climate change, and equity and inclusion. The Summit was convened by the UN Secretary-General with “the aim of placing the planet on the path to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,”– proposals that are intended to establish a framework for global peace and prosperity. The fundamentals of the discussion include duly representing farmers, making science-based policies and recognizing agriculture as part of the solution to the main problems facing humanity. While in Rome, Bronaugh will also meet with Italian government officials and UN officials, including the Food and Agriculture Organization leadership. *********************************************************************************** Demand for American Lamb Continues to Rise Consumer demand for lamb increased considerably during 2020. While all meat sales grew as more meals were consumed at home, lamb sales grew at a larger percentage than total meat sales overall, according to the American Lamb Board latest U.S. Retail Sales Report. The 2021 first-quarter report assesses the American lamb market by comparing four-week, 12-week, and 52-week intervals to one year prior. Last year saw a 24.7 percent increase in lamb dollar sales from 2019 and a 17.7 percent increase in pounds sold from 2019. Sales of racks exploded in the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Compared to 2019, rack sales increased 52.8 percent in terms of pounds sold. Sales of ground lamb also saw considerable growth, a 23.7 percent increase in volume sales. Meanwhile, sales of lamb in the first quarter of 2021 outperformed the same 12 weeks a year ago by a sizable margin as dollar sales increased 19.8 percent and volume sales increased 11.8 percent. *********************************************************************************** Oil and Gas Prices Decline Over COVID Concerns Gas and diesel prices fell again in the last week, following a drop in the value of oil. GasBuddy reports the national average gas price dropped 2.9 cents to $3.14 a gallon, while diesel fell .7 cents to $3.26 per gallon. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan states, “With oil prices struggling under the weight of a rise in new Covid cases thanks to the Delta variant and OPEC’s increase in oil production, average gas prices in most states finally drifted lower.” However, U.S. gasoline demand surged to a new 2021 high last week, and De Haan warns of a bumpy end to summer regarding fuel prices. Implied gasoline demand rose 12,000 barrels per day to 9.3 million, just slightly under normal levels for this time of year. The national average for gas now stands 4.7 cents higher than a month ago and 97.2 cents higher than a year ago. Meanwhile, oil demand typically declines heading into fall. *********************************************************************************** Students Gather to Ensure the Future of Agriculture This week, 44 FFA members gather in Indianapolis to discuss how agriculture will play a pivotal role in their future. It’s all part of the New Century Farmer conference – an opportunity for FFA members who plan to remain in production agriculture to work on their secession plans for success. During the week, participants will visit with producers around the state, learn from industry leaders, see innovative agricultural technology and network with others who also plan to stay in production agriculture. National FFA educational specialist for Programs and Events, Kate Wehby, says, “This program helps us continue to grow the next generation of leaders.” The conference was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants selected to participate in 2020 were invited to attend the 2021 event. New Century Farmer is sponsored by Case IH, Corteva Agriscience, Farm Credit, Nutrien Ag Solutions, and Meredith Agrimedia. Learn more about the program online at ffa.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 27, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US, China Clashes Continue The U.S. and China have moved into a contentious stance as the Biden administration has unfolded, and this week has indicated that relationship has not shifted a great deal. The week opened with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman holding in China with top officials, including with Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng. Interestingly, while that session was still going on, Chinese state media released a statement from Xie contended the U.S. had created an "imaginary enemy" in China to divert attention from domestic U.S. issues. "The United States wants to reignite the sense of national purpose" with state media reporting that there would be "serious consequences." Xie urged the U.S. to lift visa restrictions on Communist Party members, their families, and Chinese students; lift sanctions imposed on Chinese leaders, government officials and agencies; remove restrictions on Confucius Institutes and Chinese companies; cancel rulings determining Chinese media as foreign agents; and dropping its request to extradite Huawei financial chief Meng Wanzhou from Canada. Sherman's meeting with State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi was labeled "frank and open" relative to "a range of issues, demonstrating the importance of maintaining open lines of communication between our two countries. They discussed ways to set terms for responsible management of the U.S.-China relationship, according to the U.S. State Department. Sherman "underscored that the United States welcomes the stiff competition between our countries -- and that we intend to continue to strengthen our own competitive hand -- but that we do not seek conflict with the PRC (People's Republic of China)." While that was unfolding in China, the U.S. and China butted heads at the WTO. The issue is the same one where they recently clashed at the world trade body -- over China's operation of their tariff rate quotas (TRQs) for wheat, rice and corn. At a meeting of the Dispute Settlement Body, China contested the U.S. request for permission to impose trade retaliation on China over the TRQ issue. That means the matter is now headed to arbitration. But China also submitted a request for a dispute panel to look at whether it had come into compliance with the WTO ruling on its TRQs which dates back to 2019. The U.S. blocked the request, but will not be able to block a second request. The U.S. believes that the retaliatory actions can move ahead while the two sides are in arbitration, but China said the arbitration should be suspended until the determination is made on whether they have changed their TRQ program and come into compliance with the WTO ruling. China not only contends that it has come into compliance with the WTO ruling but they are also taking issue with the level of retaliation sought by the U.S. And China has also made clear that it wants the U.S. tariffs imposed by the Trump administration to be removed. But so far, there has been no sign from the Biden administration that they are ready to take that step either. So we will see. The level of acrimony continues to rise between the two countries, though no major actions have been taken by either side. Still, the situation should be watched closely in the coming weeks and months, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 27, 2021 |


China Warns EU Carbon Border Tax Violates Trade Principles Plans outlined by the European Commission to implement a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) from 2026 would force companies sending carbon-intensive products into the European Union (EU) to pay carbon costs on such shipments. "CBAM is essentially a unilateral measure to extend the climate change issue to the trade sector," said Ministry of Ecology and Environment spokesman Liu Youbin. "It violates WTO principles ... and (will) seriously undermine mutual trust in the global community and the prospects for economic growth." The U.S. has also raised questions about the potential EU carbon tax, with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai indicating the U.S. would not shy away from confronting the EU on the matter.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 27, 2021 |


Vilsack Talks Food Inflation, Livestock Regs USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack predicted the rise in U.S. food prices seen in June will start to moderate despite the concerns over inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy. "There are certain selective items in the grocery store folks may see for a period of time increased costs," Vilsack said Friday in an interview on Bloomberg Television's Balance of Power with David Westin. "We think this will even out as we begin to recover, as we begin to get the supply and demand in better balance." Meanwhile, Vilsack signaled USDA would soon announce proposed regulations to provide more protection to livestock producers in their dealings with the highly consolidated meatpacking industry. President Joe Biden's executive order on competition instructed the USDA to consider stronger regulations. "I think we will see significant action on that in the very near term," Vilsack said in the session.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 27, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. durable goods orders for June is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday, followed by a U.S. index of consumer confidence in July at 9 a.m. For grains, the main interests continue to be weather, export sales, any new developments concerning biofuels policy and the Crop Progress report, just released Monday afternoon. Weather Scattered showers will be found near the Great Lakes and across the south on Tuesday. Temperatures will be quite hot across most of the growing regions today. This will benefit the final stages of winter wheat harvest but cause further stress to drier areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 26, 2021 |


Soy Sustainability Protocol Reaches 100-Million Metric Tons of Exports The U.S. Soybean Export Council, United Soybean Board, and the American Soybean Association are happy to announce a new milestone for U.S. soy exports. More than 100 million metric tons of U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol verified soy has been exported internationally over the seven years since the program launched in 2014. With the growing demand for sustainable soy globally, the SSAP has been recognized as compliant with the European Manufacturers’ Federation Soy Sourcing Guidelines, the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee’s sustainable sourcing code for ag products, the Consumer Goods Forum, and more. “As consumer consciousness about health, the environment, and the need to meet global nutrition and food security continue to drive demand for nutritious and sustainable protein, the U.S. SSAP enables us to provide our global food, feed, consumer packaged goods, and retail sector customers with verified, sustainable U.S. soy,” says Jim Sutter, CEO of the U.S. Soybean Export Council. “A reliable supply of high-quality, sustainably-produced U.S. soy plays a vitally important role in enabling families and the food-feed industry around the world to feed our growing planet sustainably.” The U.S. soy industry worked together with non-governmental organizations to develop the SSAP to back up U.S. soybean farmers’ commitment to sustainability. *********************************************************************************************** Chinese Soybean Imports to Drop Later in 2021 China’s soybean imports are likely to slow sharply during the second half of this year after a record first-half buying spree. Reuters says that puts a dent in expectations for sustained growth from the top global soybean buyer and hurts U.S. market sentiment just as farmers will need to sell their new crop. A serious drop in hog profitability and a sharp rise in the use of wheat for feed are slowing down Chinese demand for soybeans, just as farmers are expecting to pull in their third-largest harvest in history. That will add further volatility to a critical crop, which rallied earlier in 2021 to nine-year highs. The manager of a crush plant in northern China told Reuters that, “Soymeal demand is reaching rock bottom as the basis hit its lowest point so far this year. We can’t place a lot of orders to make purchases, so U.S. soybean exports will surely be hit.” China imported a record 48.95 million tons in the first half of 2021, up nearly nine percent on the year as hog herds recovered from African Swine Fever and top producer Brazil shipped a record crop to the Asian nation. ********************************************************************************************** New Ad Campaign Asks Washington to Stop Big Oil Growth Energy launched a new digital ad campaign urging President Biden and congressional leaders to stop oil industry handouts. The campaign also asks Washington to uphold its commitments to reducing carbon emissions and supporting low-carbon fuels. The ads will appear online in the Washington Post and Politico and run until August. Readers will be directed to an action page focused on restoring year-round sales of E15 and emphasizing the importance of strong Renewable Volume Obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard. In the wake of recent court decisions that could limit the market for U.S. biofuels, Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor emphasized the urgent need for action by regulators and lawmakers. “It’s time for leaders in Washington to make good on their commitments to clean, renewable energy and put a stop to Big Oil’s efforts to restore its monopoly over the U.S. fuel mix. The evidence is clear – Congress and the administration cannot decarbonize transportation without a growing role for low-carbon biofuels, which are vital to our climate, working families, and the economy.” She also says policymakers must act swiftly to ensure uninterrupted, year-round access to E15 and set ambitious biofuel blending levels. ********************************************************************************************** Brazil Coffee Growers Hit Hard by Frost A surprise frost that struck Brazil’s coffee belt last week hit farmers hard. Financial Post says industry experts fear farmers may default on deliveries of recently-harvested coffee that were sold to traders months ago at prices that are half of the current value. Temperatures dropped below the freezing level on the morning of July 20, delivering a big blow to the heart of the coffee belt, damaging trees so much that it may harm prospects for next year’s coffee crop. Late last week, industry estimates on possible losses to next year’s coffee crop varied widely. Initial forecasts for a loss of 1-2 million bags quickly increased. One Brazilian exporter expects a cut of approximately 4.5 million bags. Initial 2022 production estimates totaled almost 70 million bags. Judy Gaines, a U.S.-based commodity analyst, says it might be too soon to speculate on the damage. “There are a lot of aerial photos going around,” she says. “But nobody knows if those trees will only have to be pruned, which will result in zero production next year, or if they need to be taken out, which means no production for the next two or three years.” ********************************************************************************************** NFU Praises FTC Decision on Right to Repair The National Farmers Union praised the Federal Trade Commission’s 5-0 vote to adopt a policy statement to ramp up law enforcement against repair restrictions on equipment. Those restrictions prevent small businesses, workers, consumers, and government entities from fixing their products. “Farmers are among the most affected by such restrictions; currently, farm equipment manufacturers refuse to sell software repair tools to farmers or independent mechanics,” the organization says in a news release. “This all but forces farmers to take their broken machinery to a licensed dealership, which can be expensive and inconvenient.” The Hagstrom Report says the NFU has long supported a farmer’s right to repair. The organization is encouraged that the administration is finally taking action to eliminate unnecessary and unfair repair restrictions that will give farmers greater freedom to fix their equipment. The FTC says, “The policy statement adopted today is aimed at manufacturers’ practices that make it extremely difficult for purchasers to repair their products or shop around for service providers to do it for them.” By taking action against the restrictions that violate antitrust or consumer protection laws, the commission says it’s taking important steps to restore the right to repair. *********************************************************************************************** Nutrition Research Improving Public Perception of Beef The Beef Checkoff is celebrating its 35th anniversary, and the NCBA is talking about the successful promotion and research programs driving beef demand. The NCBA says consumers are more open to the nutritional benefits of beef than at any other time since the Checkoff first began more than three decades ago. The Beef Checkoff was implemented during a time when U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggested Americans should limit beef in their diet and reduce their intake of fat and cholesterol. “I’ve seen firsthand the evolution of nutrition behavior over the years,” says Becky Walth, a South Dakota producer and member of the Nutrition and Health Checkoff Committee. “The Beef Checkoff has been ahead of the curve, conducting research to demonstrate the importance of beef in a balanced diet.” Two landmark studies commissioned by the Beef Checkoff reinforced the idea that beef fits a heart-healthy diet. Because of checkoff-funded research, beef can now be Americans’ protein of choice in any gold standard, heart-healthy diet. Beef is also consistently recommended by scientists, physicians, and registered dieticians. In addition, 75 percent of consumers now agree that beef is nutritious.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 26, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Debt Limit Looms As attention remains on the trillions in dollars of spending being pushed by the Biden administration via the bipartisan infrastructure package and a "social" infrastructure plan, another spending issue is rising and it is one that, unlikely infrastructure, has to be dealt with -- the debt limit. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen penned a letter to congressional leaders late last week, urging them they needed to act on the debt limit before the end of September. "Once the current debt limit suspension expires at the end of July, the department will begin using so-called extraordinary measures, or budget maneuvering," Yellen said, steps that will keep the U.S. from defaulting on its obligations. It is not clear how long the government can use these extraordinary measures before they would hit a default. CQ said Yellen's plea was that lawmakers needed to act "as soon as possible," the publication said, "to avoid an event similar to or worse than the 2011 debt limit standoff when the country experienced the only credit rating downgrade in its history." What can affect these extraordinary measures and how they can stave off a U.S. debt default? "The period of time that extraordinary measures may last is subject to considerable uncertainty due to a variety of factors, including the challenges of forecasting the payments and receipts of the U.S. government months into the future, exacerbated by the heightened uncertainty in payments and receipts related to the economic impact of the pandemic," Yellen said. August 1 will see the Treasury start these measures as that is the date that the most-recent debt-limit deal expires. Treasury, Yellen said, would start by suspending sales of special state and local government securities, to remain technically within the borrowing cap, which on that day will reset to roughly $28.5 trillion. The agency's cash balance, which sat at $616 billion as of Wednesday, is expected to drop to $450 billion by the end of the month, CQ said. The Congressional Budget Office last week predicted that the extraordinary measures will probably allow the Treasury to make to October or November before action would be needed by either raising the debt limit or suspending it once again. But Yellen is not apparently in agreement with CBO. She said the Treasury was likely to burn through some $150 billion in available cash and extraordinary measures, including large payments for military retirement and health care benefits. "There are scenarios in which cash and extraordinary measures could be exhausted soon after Congress returns from recess," Yellen said, referring to the Senate scheduled to return from the August congressional recess September 13 and the House September 20. As for options for Congress, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said there are four options: (1) leave the debt limit in place; (2) increase the debt limit to allow for further federal borrowing; (3) maintain the current debt limit and require the implementation of "extraordinary measures" that will postpone (but not prevent) a binding debt limit; or (4) temporarily suspend or abolish the debt limit. Congress has enacted 98 separate debt limit modifications between the end of World War II and the present to accommodate the changes in federal debt levels, CRS said. Since 2001, Congress has passed 17 distinct changes to the debt limit. The mention of 2011 comes to mind as an event where the debt-limit issue actually had some impacts on the government. For one, the U.S. debt rating was lowered. That sent shudders through financial markets. A 2013 report by the Treasury Department said, "Because the debt ceiling impasse contributed to the financial market disruptions, reduced confidence and increased uncertainty, the economic expansion [in 2011] was no doubt weaker than it otherwise would have been." But Republicans have also thrown another potential roadblock up on the debt limit, saying they will either not help Democrats if they want to suspend the debt limit, or they have set up a list of demands that would get their support for action on the debt limit. But many view their apparent list as unrealistic. One suggestion from 15 Republicans on the House Budget Committee would be another decade long series of spending caps on discretionary spending, similar to the 2011 deficit reduction law (PL 112-25) that the federal government is just emerging from. However, Democrats could opt to use budget reconciliation to raise the debt limit, a move that would mean they would not need Republican support to take the action. But they would likely have to set a specific dollar amount for the allowable debt as opposed to just setting a new date for a suspension of the debt limit. Yellen, however, called on congressional leaders to find a bipartisan solution. "In recent years Congress has addressed the debt limit through regular order, with broad bipartisan support," she wrote. "I respectfully urge Congress to protect the full faith and credit of the United States by acting as soon as possible." So we will see. The debt limit looms as a truly must-have situation as a lack of action could have disastrous impacts that would likely raise borrowing costs and potentially slow the economic recovery from the pandemic and the situation will need to be monitored closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 26, 2021 |


Former Iowa U.S. Rep. Finkenauer to Challenge For Grassley Seat Former Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, defeated after serving one term in the House of Representatives, announced Thursday she will seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by longtime Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. Finkenauer is "the first major Democrat to announce a Senate run in Iowa," Axios reported, noting that Grassley has not yet said he will run for another term in office. The Associated Press said that Finkenauer, "despite losing her House seat in 2020 after one term, remains a youthful prospect in the Iowa Democratic Party, which has struggled to produce a new generation for statewide office." According to the Des Moines Register, Finkenauer has put her attention on "many of the themes that motivated her two campaigns for Congress, including a focus on working Iowans and support for the middle class."

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 26, 2021 |


Farm Bureau Says Mexico Official Assured Glyphosate Ban Does Not Apply to Feed Mexican Economy Secretary Tatiana Clouthier met with American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall in Washington last week, telling reporters that he got a key update from Clouthier on the country's coming ban glyphosate. Duvall told reporters on Thursday he got clarity on the Mexican government's plan to ban the widely used herbicide glyphosate by 2024: It only applies to crops grown for human consumption and not those grown for animal feed, he said. Meanwhile, the brief readout of the session between Clouthier and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai did not mention the ag issues, but indicated the U.S. "remains committed to the full implementation of the USMCA, including the strong auto rules of origin, and Mexico's important labor reforms."

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 26, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend and ready to start the final week of July, traders will be keeping a close eye on the latest weather forecasts, straining to get a glimpse of the possibilities in August. A report on U.S. new home sales for June is due out at 9 a.m. CDT, followed by USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections at 10 a.m. USDA's Crop Progress report is set for 3 p.m. and lower crop ratings seem likely, given the past week's lack of significant rain. Weather Periods of scattered showers will be found across the northern tier of the country and also from the Southern Plains to the Mid-Atlantic down to the Gulf Coast. The showers may have some localized benefit across the drier northwestern areas but are not expected to have a widespread effect. Temperatures approaching or eclipsing 100 degrees Fahrenheit will put stress on reproductive crops in drought areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 23, 2021 |


U.S. and China Trading at a Brisk Pace China and the U.S. are shipping goods back and forth at the quickest pace in years. Bloomberg says that’s making it look as if the tariff war and COVID-19 never interrupted the world’s largest bilateral trade relationship. Bilateral trade in goods is an area of stability in a relationship that otherwise continues to struggle. In February of 2020, monthly two-way trade dropped to $19 billion amid shutdowns. However, official Chinese data says the trade numbers rebounded over the past year to set new records. That boom is likely to remain as China purchases millions of tons of U.S. farm commodities for this year and next. While the U.S. government has somewhat different numbers on trade, the brisk pace has defied all expectations that the tariffs still in place on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of merchandise would interrupt supply chains. Both sides are living with the extra cost as China continues to buy large quantities of farm products to fulfill terms of the 2020 Phase One Trade Deal, while U.S. companies continue to purchase the products that they can’t get anywhere else to meet rising consumer demand. *********************************************************************************************** White House Delaying Biofuel Mandates The White House is delaying the annual process that decides how much ethanol and other biofuels will get blended into the nation’s fuel supply each year. Two sources told Reuters that the administration is looking for a solution to the issue which pits refineries against corn farmers. Lawmakers on both sides of the disagreement have pushed the Biden Administration for months to decide the issue. Refiners want low volumes of biofuels to keep their production costs down, while U.S. farmers want higher volumes to pump up sales of corn-based ethanol and other products. Sources say the White House has largely stayed out of the matter until now, but the administration is looking to take control of the situation. Both the refining and corn-based industries have waited anxiously for the Environmental Protection Agency to announce proposals for the level of biofuels that refiners must blend in 2021 and 2022. The 2021 amount is over half a year late due to the economic fallout from COVID-19. Many expected the proposals in June, which didn’t happen. A series of court rulings on the issues related to the Renewable Fuel Standard has only amplified confusion for both industries. ********************************************************************************************** Vilsack Defends Farmworker Changes Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack discussed proposed migrant farmworker programs during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The hearing was set to talk about an earned pathway to citizenship for migrant farmworkers. Roll Call Dot Com says several Republicans on the committee said they won’t support such legislation without first improving security on the southern border. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham said, “You don’t give amnesty and hope people won’t keep coming. You secure the border, then you provide legal status. We’re doing it completely backward.” In March, the House passed legislation that would allow migrant workers who had already worked a certain number of years to apply for legal status. Vilsack defended the bill, saying he doesn’t believe its passage would cause an influx of immigrants at the border. The debate over citizenship for migrant farmworkers comes soon after a federal judge ruled that the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is illegal. The program was designed to protect certain undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. ********************************************************************************************** NIFA Announces $7 Million in Ag Research Grants The USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture announced more than $7 million in research grants to non-land-grant colleges and universities. “These grants aim to increase research, education, and outreach capacity at non-land-grant institutions to support the development of the innovations and workforce needed to sustain the agriculture industry in the future,” NIFA said in a news release. Carrie Castille, director of NIFA, says, “The National Institute of Food and Agriculture awards research, education, and extension grants to solve the grand challenges before all of us. These efforts will help improve rural economies, increase food production and agricultural profitability and sustainability, address climate change and related issues, ensure food and nutrition security, and train the next generation of the agricultural workforce.” Among the 24 funded projects, Texas A&M will study how pollinator-friendly perennials in ornamental landscapes can provide a solution to decades of major declines in pollinator populations. Other grants will help train networks of scientists and educators who will work on climate-ready and sustainable agricultural practices, as well as other studies on soil and water quality. *********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Production Drops to a Five-Week Low Ethanol output during the week ending on July 16 dropped to the lowest level in five weeks while inventories climbed higher. The Energy Information Administration says production of the biofuel dropped to an average of 1.028 million barrels a day. That’s down from 1.041 million barrels a day, on average, the previous week and the lowest production level since the week ending on June 11. In the Midwest, which produces the most ethanol of any region in the country, output averaged 980,000 barrels a day, also a five-week low. The Midwest decline accounted for the entirety of the losses for the week as production in the Gulf Coast rose to an average of 18,000 barrels per day last week. East Coast output was unchanged at 12,000 barrels a day, Rocky Mountain production stayed around 10,000 barrels a day, and the West Coast production level stayed at 9,000 barrels a day. Ethanol stockpiles jumped to their highest level in almost five months during the week ending on July 16. Inventories rose to 22.51 million barrels last week, up from 21.1 million during the previous week and the highest level since the week ending on February 19. ********************************************************************************************** Consumer Demand for Lamb Protein Keeps Rising Consumer demand for lamb increased considerably during 2020. While all meat sales grew during the year as more meals were eaten at home, lamb sales grew at a larger percentage than total meat sales overall. That’s according to the U.S. Retail Sales report commissioned by the American Lamb Board. First-quarter sales in 2020 increased by almost 25 percent from 2019 to 2020, and the pounds of lamb meat sold increased by 17.7 percent during that same time. Sales of rack of lamb exploded in the third and fourth quarters of 2020. Compared to the previous year, rack sales increased almost 53 percent in terms of pounds sold. Sales of ground lamb also saw significant growth, increasing by 23.7 percent. California has seen the most growth since 2019, thanks to a 30 percent increase in dollar sales and a 29.6 percent increase in pounds sold. The Northeast U.S. remains the highest-selling region by a significant margin, accounting for 29 percent of all lamb sales in the U.S. Lamb retail sales remained strong into the first quarter of 2021. Compared to the first quarter of 2020, dollar sales grew by almost 20 percent, and volume sales climbed almost 12 percent higher.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 23, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Immigration Remains a Hot Ag Topic Typically the debate over immigration doesn't always involve agriculture. But the Senate Judiciary Committee this week held a hearing on just that topic -- how immigration issues affect agriculture. The attention was on the Farm Workforce Modernization Act (FWMA), with the use of H-2A visas one of the key areas for U.S. ag companies when it comes to bringing in immigrant workers. Under the FWMA, there would be five-year visas to undocumented farm workers who meet specific eligibility criteria. But they would also be provided with a pathway to permanent legal status and that became one of the key issues that Republican lawmakers focused on in the session. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told lawmakers that they needed to support the FWMA. The bill, he said, marked a "very delicate compromise" which the House approved earlier this year. Vilsack, a seasoned official in terms of testifying before Congress, turned the questions on lawmakers themselves. That doesn't always happen. But Vilsack pressed Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., on how it could be viewed as amnesty. He specifically noted that he did not see how it could be amnesty "when the bill provides for the payment of a fine of $1,000, I don't quite understand why we're talking about amnesty." Kennedy's simply said, "Because it is amnesty, and I think most Americans see it as amnesty, and I see it as amnesty." But Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, likened it to a 1986 immigration reform effort that included an amnesty provision, noting that under that law many agricultural workers that obtained legal status ended up leaving the sector, eventually forcing employers to bring in more illegal immigrants. "The cycle simply began once again," he noted. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said extending citizenship to even one worker under the farmworker bill would result in "a run on the border." Vilsack countered that farmworkers would only qualify for citizenship when they had been in the country for a while. Graham called the idea of passing the farmworker legislation "ass-backwards," saying that the U.S. needs to be addressed first. But some of the liveliest activity came when Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, held the questioning time for Vilsack. He took issue with Vilsack's assertion that if the economic conditions in the countries where immigrants typically have come were addressed, there would not be the flow of those trying to enter the U.S. But Cruz was not having it, noting that those were in poverty last year when the immigration rates were low. "Mr. Secretary, if we were having a hearing on the optimum fertilizer for growing corn, I think you might be a very good witness," Cruz said. "And with all due respect your answers on immigration were fertilizer." And the U.S. agriculture sector is not unified behind the FWMA. The American Farm Bureau Federation opposes the FWMA in part because they say it would make it easier for employees to sue producers. Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall sent a letter to the committee saying, "Congress must recognize the dangers of incomplete, shortsighted agricultural labor reform initiatives" and urging broad-based reform of the H-2A program." The bottom line from the hearing is what has kept the issue of immigration from being addressed by the U.S. government: There is not a unified view that will gain support from enough lawmakers to make it through Congress. So we will see. Agriculture and immigrant labor is very linked and this is something that needs to be watched closely as effort continue to try and find that still-elusive ground to get immigration reform through, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 23, 2021 |


House Approves Legislation Regulating 'Forever Chemicals' The House on Wednesday approved a bill setting deadlines for the Environmental Protection Agency to implement drinking water regulations for so-called forever chemicals. Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are widely used, man-made compounds that are found in manufacturing and consumer products like Scotchguard, flame-resistant materials, nonstick cooking surfaces and firefighting foam used on military bases since the 1940s. They have been found in water wells and thousands of water sources across the country. The bill approved Wednesday 241-182 orders the EPA to designate two PFAS compounds as hazardous air and water pollutants and set drinking water regulations for their use within two years of the bill becoming law. For years the agency has only established a non-enforceable health advisory level on the compounds in drinking water. It also gives the EPA four years to set regulations for the discharge of the chemicals in industrial runoff and wastewater, and five years to set standards for the use of the thousands of other PFAS compounds. The bill requires cleanup of PFAS-contaminated sites and reimburses local water agencies for efforts to reduce the amount of PFAS in drinking water.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 23, 2021 |


Republicans Block Procedural Vote in Senate on Infrastructure Senate Republicans blocked Democrats' attempt to start formal debate on a bipartisan infrastructure plan Wednesday, arguing that Democrats are rushing the procedural vote before the final bill has been written. The Senate voted 49-51, failing to reach the 60 votes needed to proceed. The move could be only a delay for President Biden's infrastructure plan, as at least 11 Republicans said they would support the vote if it came up again Monday, when an agreement on the final details of the bill is expected. Talks are expected to continue. Wednesday's vote fell along party lines, though Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., joined Republicans in voting against moving forward due to Senate rules that make it easier for him to call up a repeat vote after voting no. Democrats are trying to enact the plan in two parts. The bipartisan infrastructure plan, which amounts to $579 billion in new spending and nearly $1.2 trillion overall, would invest in the so-called hard infrastructure projects.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 23, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Headed into the weekend, traders continue to keep a close eye on the latest weather forecasts and any news pertaining to biofuels policy. Friday's only significant reports are July 1 cattle on-feed and July 1 cattle inventory, both scheduled to come from USDA at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather A front moving through the Northern Plains on Friday will bring beneficial rainfall, though showers and thunderstorms will be scattered so there will be areas that are missed. Severe winds and hail will be possible in the storms as well. Other isolated showers will be found around the Great Lakes and in the Southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 22, 2021 |


Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Repeal RFS The National Corn Growers Association strongly opposes a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate this week, referred to as the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act. NCGA says the legislation would remove the implied conventional biofuel blending requirement from the Renewable Fuel Standard. NCGA President John Linder states, “This bill is ill conceived and would have a devastating impact on air quality, the diversity of our energy supply, fuel prices and rural economies.” Senate Republicans Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Susan Collins of Maine, and Democrats Dianne Feinstein of California and Bob Menendez of New Jersey introduced the bill. The lawmakers claim the bill would help reduce carbon emissions from fuels by removing the volume requirements for corn ethanol while leaving in place the volume obligations for advanced and cellulosic biofuels and biodiesel. Senator Toomey states, “The RFS drives up the cost of gas and food, harms our environment, and damages engines,” calling the RFS a “backwards policy.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces More Key Staff Appointments Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Wednesday named Daniel Whitley as Administrator of the Foreign Agricultural Service. Whitley most recently served as Acting Administrator for the USDA branch. Prior to that role, he was the Associate Administrator responsible for leading the agency's trade policy and market analysis teams. Whitley began his career with the Economic Research Service, working on market access issues in the World Trade Organization. Dr. Basil Gooden was named Director of State Operations for Rural Development. Gooden recently served as a Visiting Scholar in the Sustainable Food Access Core of the Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation at Virginia Commonwealth University. USDA also announced Michael Amato as communications director in the Office of Communications and Marissa Perry as a speechwriter in the Office of Communications. Secretary Vilsack says of the staff additions, "Each is an essential member of our growing team and we are grateful to have them serving in these roles.” *********************************************************************************** Midwest Universities Researching Electric Weed Control Southern Illinois University Carbondale is collaborating on a project testing the use of electricity to control weeds in agricultural settings. Karla Gage, associate professor of weed science and plant biology, is working with researchers Mandy Bish and Kevin Bradley from the University of Missouri on testing The Annihilator 6R30 Weed Zapper. The tool is a patented electric weed control unit mounted to a tractor. The multistate project is funded by the North Central Soybean Research Program with support from the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council, who purchased the implement, and includes researchers from Iowa State University, University of Nebraska, Kansas State University and Purdue University. Gage states herbicide resistance means “growers are looking for new weed control tools to use.” While electricity is one alternative, another option researchers are exploring is called harvest weed seed control. In that method, weed seeds are managed or destroyed before they go back into the soil seed bank to germinate the following season. *********************************************************************************** Corps Monitors Low Water on Upper Mississippi River, Navigation Continues The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, is closely monitoring water levels on the Upper Mississippi River as drought conditions continue across Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa. However, the low water is not affecting shipping conditions on the river, and navigation continues. Dan Fasching of the St. Paul District states, "Low flow is exactly the conditions for which the locks were built," adding, "The locks, combined with dredging efforts, are used to maintain navigable depths in the main channel." The lowest flow recorded at Lock and Dam 2, in Hastings, Minnesota, was in 1976, when the flow fell to only 500 cubic feet per second and navigation continued. The current flow at Lock and Dam 2 is around 3,000 cubic feet per second. Earlier this month, water flows were reduced on the Missouri River at Gavins Point Dam in South Dakota due to drought conditions in the Upper Missouri River basin. *********************************************************************************** Restaurant Sales and Prices Increase Consumers ramped up restaurant spending during the first half of 2021. Restaurant sales posted an increase in June, as consumers continued to burn off their pent-up demand for socialization and experiences, according to the National Restaurant Association. Restaurants registered total sales of $70.6 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis in June, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Census Bureau. That was up 2.3 percent from May’s sales volume, and represented the fifth solid increase in the last six months. Driven by the steady gains during the first half of 2021, restaurant sales in June were nearly $4.4 billion, or 6.6 percent above the February 2020 pre-pandemic sales volume of $66.2 billion. However, consumers are also paying more to eat out. Rising food costs caused by inflation are forcing many restaurants to choose between eating the increased costs, raising prices or removing items from their menus altogether. Average menu prices have increased more than four percent in the last year. *********************************************************************************** Apply by August 20 for Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge The American Farm Bureau Federation, in partnership with Farm Credit, is accepting online applications for the 2022 Farm Bureau Ag Innovation Challenge through August 20. The national business competition showcases U.S. startup companies that are providing innovative solutions to either traditional or new and emerging challenges faced by America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities. Farm Bureau will award a total of $165,000 in startup funds through the competition. Farm Bureau and Farm Credit will select ten startup companies to compete as semi-finalists at the AFBF Convention in January 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia. The ten semi-finalist teams will be announced in October. Entrepreneurs must be Farm Bureau members to qualify as top ten semi-finalists. Applicants who are not Farm Bureau members can join a state Farm Bureau of their choice. Detailed eligibility guidelines, the competition timeline, videos and profiles of past winners, along with the application process, are all available online. Visit fb.org/challenge.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 22, 2021 |


Washington Insider: FTC Addresses Right to Repair The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is forging ahead on plans to address the issue of "right to repair," one that ag interests have long been raising as an issue. The White House directed FTC to address the issue in the recently issue executive order on competition. Before you think that the FTC has hastily put this effort together, it has been a long time in coming. The FTC effort actually dates back to 2019. That's when the agency held a workshop in July of 2019 entitled, "Nixing the Fix: A Workshop on Repair Restrictions." Even the title suggested the agency was looking to wade into the issue. The 2019 workshop spawned a report the FTC adopted 4-0 called "Nixing the Fix," a report agreed to and announced May 6. That report indicated there was "scant evidence to support manufacturers' justifications for repair restrictions." Again, another sign that the FTC was about the delve into the issue and mostly likely it would not be favorable for those who backed keeping consumers or small repair shops from fixing products. The FTC this week approved a policy statement on the issue on a unanimous vote. "Restricting consumers and businesses from choosing how they repair products can substantially increase the total cost of repairs, generate harmful electronic waste, and unnecessarily increase wait times for repairs," FTC said. "In contrast, providing more choice in repairs can lead to lower costs, reduce e-waste by extending the useful lifespan of products, enable more timely repairs, and provide economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and local businesses." And FTC Chair Lina Khan dove right into the issue when the regulator's open meeting started on Wednesday. "These types of restrictions can significantly raise costs for consumers, stifle innovation, close off business opportunity for independent repair shops, create unnecessary electronic waste, delay timely repairs, and undermine resiliency," Kahn stated. "The FTC has a range of tools it can use to root out unlawful repair restrictions, and today's policy statement would commit us to move forward on this issue with new vigor." And FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra noted the situation has gone beyond just competition issues. "While we typically view improper repair restrictions through its effects on fair competition, consumers, and small businesses, the Right to Repair movement also showed us how these problems can be matters of life and death," he observed. But Chopra also spoke to the issue as it relates to agriculture. "Farmers relying on tractors and other equipment have been blocked from an open repair market, which can lead to spoiled crops and missing out on critical income," he stated. After the unanimous vote for the policy statement, the FTC said it will "prioritize" investigations into these "unlawful repair restrictions." They want to have the public to "submit complaints and provide other information to aid in greater enforcement of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act." Current law does not provide for civil penalties, but the FTC will consider filing suit on the issues. Plus, they will look at rulemaking. They will also "scrutinize repair restrictions for violations of antitrust laws." What do they mean by that? "Certain repair restrictions may constitute tying arrangements or monopolistic practices -- such as refusals to deal, exclusive dealing, or exclusionary design -- that violate the Sherman Act." They will also look at whether repair restrictions run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission Act. Plus, they will work throughout their agency to find expertise to "combat unlawful repair restrictions," and will "closely coordinate with state law enforcement and policymakers to ensure compliance and to update existing law and regulation to advance the goal of open repair markets." While the White House directed the FTC to take action on "right to repair," it certainly appears they were ready to do so whether the executive order came or not. So we will see. Now the focus will be on the FTC and their pledge to act, and no doubt farmers and small repair shops might be some of the first to get in touch with the agency as they look at a machine that will not operate properly due to a situation they have no control over, something which should be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 22, 2021 |


Maritime Commission Sets Up Ocean Carriers Audit Program A new audit program and dedicated audit team has been established at the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) to "assess carrier compliance with the Agency's rule on detention and demurrage as well as to provide additional information beneficial to the regular monitoring of the marketplace for ocean cargo services." The FMC established the "Vessel-Operating Common Carrier Audit Program" July 19 to analyze the top nine carriers by market share relative to compliance on detention and demurrage practices in the U.S., and the FMC may use the information to establish industry best practices. The audit may also focus on "practices of companies related to billing, appeals procedures, penalties assessed by the lines, and any other restrictive practices." FMC Chairman Daniel Maffei said in announcing the audit effort that "if the audit team uncovers prohibited activities, the Commission will take appropriate action. Furthermore, the information gathered by the audit process might lead to changes in FMC regulations and industry guidance if warranted."

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 22, 2021 |


Biofuels Battles Continue U.S. biofuel policy continues as a focus in Washington, with Reuters reporting Tuesday the White House has opted to push back the proposed levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) for 2021 and 2022 out of political considerations. If the report is on the mark, the Biden administration appears to be trying to find a solution on biofuel policy that is acceptable to both refiners and biofuel supporters. That proved elusive for several years in the Trump administration. But others maintain the recent court rulings are also a factor. Meanwhile, Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Bob Menendez, D-N.J., have introduced the Corn Ethanol Mandate Elimination Act which would end the 15-billion-gallon conventional (primarily corn-based) ethanol requirement under the RFS. The measure frames the effort in a bid to reduce carbon emissions from transportation fuels by only removing the corn-based ethanol component and leaving the volume obligations in place for advanced and cellulosic biofuels and biodiesel.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 22, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, along with weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. A report on U.S. existing home sales for June and an index of leading indicators are due out at 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly natural gas inventories at 9:30 a.m. USDA's monthly cold storage report is due out at 2 p.m. CDT. Traders will remain focused on the latest weather forecasts and any news pertaining to grain exports or biofuels policy. Weather A frontal boundary in the Upper Midwest will continue to produce some isolated showers while another boundary moving through the Northern Plains will do the same. Scattered showers will continue near the Gulf Coast as well while the middle of the country remains dry, benefiting winter wheat harvest. Showers across the north will not have an impact on the ongoing drought.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 21, 2021 |


USDA Announces Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers The Department of Agriculture is providing up to $200 million to provide relief to timber harvesting and timber hauling businesses that experienced losses due to COVID-19. Announced Tuesday, the funding is part of USDA's Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. Loggers and truckers can apply for assistance through USDA's Farm Service Agency from July 22 through October 15, 2021. The Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers program is administered by FSA in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states, “the pandemic caused a major disruption for loggers and timber haulers including lack of access to wood processing mills.” The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 authorized assistance for the timber industry. Timber harvesting and hauling businesses that have experienced a gross revenue loss of at least ten percent between January 1 and December 1, 2020, compared to 2019, are encouraged to apply. The maximum amount that a person or legal entity may receive directly is $125,000. *********************************************************************************** Argentina Reducing Biodiesel Blends Argentina is reducing its biodiesel blends, a move that will result in more exports of Argentine soy oils. Argentina is the top soy oil exporter globally, and last week lawmakers approved a measure to allow reductions in the amount of soy-based biofuel mixed into domestically consumed diesel. A government official tells Reuters that because of the reduction, more oil will be exported, adding, “That could impact international soy oil prices, considering the large portion of the international market that Argentina has.” The new law, aimed at guaranteeing the sustainable use of biofuels in diesel and gasoline, foresees a minimum use of biodiesel of five percent, which could drop to three percent, in diesel for sale to the public, from the previous ten percent. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows Argentine soy oil averaged $1,181 per metric ton last month, versus $1,233 in Brazil and $1,608 in the United States. *********************************************************************************** More Farmers Join Discrimination Suit Against USDA Farmers from Minnesota and North Dakota recently joined a discrimination lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture. The group behind the lawsuit alleges a USDA COVID-19 relief program for socially disadvantaged farmers discriminates based on race. A lead attorney for the case filed in North Dakota tells the Grand Forks Herald, “Their concern is the inequality and discrimination against them just on the basis of their race or skin color.” In similar lawsuits, white farmers argue the program violates their constitutional rights. USDA announced the program in April that includes $4 billion of loan assistance for Black, Hispanic, Native American and Asian American farmers. The funds are on hold via court injunctions, and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack defends the program as addressing “longstanding racial equity issues within the department and across agriculture.” The attorney representing North Dakota farmers claims the federal government has two options, either amend the program to allow aid to all farmers, or to disband the program entirely. *********************************************************************************** Corteva Agriscience Leveraging Mobile Robots to Walk Row Crops Corteva Agriscience is working to take agricultural robotics to new heights using a Spot robot from Boston Dynamics. The company is among the first in agriculture to use this platform to ‘walk’ between rows of corn, sunflowers and other crops. The robot has potential applications in field testing of both new seed and crop protection solutions with its ability to autonomously collect data, support the application of new crop protection discovery molecules, and inspect operations. Spot’s many capabilities can help Corteva better understand complex phenotypes to support its research and development selection processes. Spot robots automate sensing and inspection, capture data, and explore without boundaries, making operations safer, more efficient and predictable. Corteva is also collaborating with Trimble for the initial proof-of-concept and to integrate precise GPS guidance technologies with the platform. The jointly developed solution combines the mobility of the Spot robot with Trimble's autonomous navigation capabilities and Corteva’s approach to helping farmers overcome agriculture’s most pressing challenges. *********************************************************************************** Chicken Marketers Urged to Innovate to Meet Needs Emerging from the Pandemic With an estimated 20 percent of the workforce working at home beyond 2021, there will be 30 million meal occasions daily that used to be lunches consumed away from home. According to research presented at the 2021 Chicken Marketing Summit this week, the research presents an unprecedented opportunity for innovation for the poultry industry. The National Chicken Council and WATT Global Media presented the results of a study that focused on anticipated U.S. consumer behavior post-pandemic to identify opportunities for chicken to gain market share in home food preparation and the upcoming foodservice revolution. The results found 91 percent of respondents plan to continue eating fresh chicken at home, and 30 percent said they will eat more chicken than pre-pandemic. The National Chicken Council says the industry needs innovation to meet evolving needs and emerging occasions as more consumers anticipate doing more meal prep at home post-pandemic. That includes leveraging e-commerce platforms for food on demand. *********************************************************************************** American Pistachio Growers Kicks Off New Facebook Live Series American Pistachio Growers, armed with data that pistachios are packed with many benefits for active bodies and minds, is inaugurating a new 2021-22 Facebook Live Series. The series, Friday Fuel-Up, seeks to engage some of the most energetic and interesting people in the world with the question, What fuels you? The monthly series, which debuts August 6 and continues the first Friday of every month, is hosted by nutritionist Dr. Mike Roussell (Roo-cell), a noted author and nutrition advisor to Men’s Health Magazine. Guests include a NASA nutritionist, the Denver Bronco’s nutritionist and an Olympic gold medal athlete. 2022 guests include Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey, an international women's soccer star and pro quarterback Josh Allen. Audiences can join the conversations live starting August 6 on the American Pistachios Facebook page. Programs will begin at 10 am Pacific on the first Friday of every month, and also be made available on Instagram and YouTube.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 21, 2021 |


Washington Insider: USDA Aid Announcements Keep Coming USDA has announced still-more aid for agriculture or agriculture-related sectors, this time announcing that it will be sending out aid to the U.S. timber and logging industry that was hurt by the pandemic. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that up to $200 million in aid would be made for U.S. timber harvesters and haulers that were negatively impacted by the pandemic via what is called the Pandemic Assistance for Timber Harvesters and Haulers (PATHH) program. The funding for the effort came via the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act that was approved in December 2020. That measure was a COVID relief effort including payments to several components of U.S. agriculture. The timber harvesters and haulers would be eligible for the aid if they had a loss in gross revenue of at least 10% between from January 1-December 1, 2020, compared with the same period in 2019. To be eligible, the business must have at least 50% of its gross revenue coming from cutting or transporting timber or processing wood onsite at the forest. Two payments are possible, with the first at 80% of the revenue decline with a second payment possible if there are still additional funds left over. And, there will be a per-person/entity payment limit of $125,000. Vilsack commented that the two payment installments allow USDA to adjust if there is more demand or less demand for the money available. But Vilsack said the $200 million was picked by lawmakers as "place to start." It's not clear if there is more than $200 million requests for payment whether USDA would opt to put more money into the effort. Given that the signup runs July 22-October 15, funds will not arrive until later this year. That seems to be the trend with COVID aid efforts the past few months. Make a splashy announcement of dollars that are coming while the actual funds will not appear in the bank accounts of those requesting the help until later. Vilsack said the department has announced aid totaling $13 billion. But he didn't say how many of those dollars have indeed been provided to producers. USDA's effort announced last week to provide funds to hog and poultry producers who owned their livestock but were forced to depopulate them are hopefully going to see those dollars by the end of the year. And there are still funds that haven't even been announced like the timber and livestock aid. Those efforts include contract pork raisers who still have heard no word from USDA even as the agency has said that aid to contract poultry growers is on the way or has been made. And there is the $700 million in aid to biofuel producers that has been announced, but not in enough detail to give an idea when those funds will be coming. And then there is aid for dairy farmers. USDA in June announced that $400 million would be offered up to dairy farmers via the Dairy Donation Program (DDP). But that aid isn't ready to go yet either -- the regulation for the effort is still under review at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). And there are supplemental payments to small and medium dairy farmers under the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program that USDA said would total $568 million. Those, too, need some regulatory action on the part of USDA and nothing has been sent over to OMB as of yet. Plus, recall the much-talked-about dairy aid that was expected to be announced when Vilsack was to visit Wisconsin in late-June. He didn't go and neither did the aid announcement. And no one is talking about the aid at this point. So there seems to be a pattern of getting aid announced faster than getting the dollars in the hands of those affected by the pandemic. That is not totally uncommon, but it seems to be the norm rather than the exception at this point. So we will see. The tally of money that is coming continues to rise, and the process of getting that from the announcement stage to the bank accounts of those affected is a process that needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 21, 2021 |


More Soyoil Expected to Come on the World Market A new law in Argentina expected to be signed by the country's president yet this month would set a minimum use of biodiesel of 5% and that could drop to 3% relative to diesel fuel sold to the public. Currently, Argentine diesel fuel is 10% biodiesel. The law is aimed at sustainable use of biofuels in diesel and gasoline. The current biodiesel level of 10% uses about 1 million tonnes of biodiesel annually, and industry officials indicate the reduction would mean more supplies would be available for export. "Lowering the blend in Argentina means higher bean-oil exports," said Luis Zubizarreta, head of Argentina's Carbio biofuel industry chamber, according to Reuters.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 21, 2021 |


Report Says Biofuel Plans Pushed Back The already late announcement of 2021 biofuel (and 2022 biodiesel) levels under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) and those for 2022 biofuels are not apparently going to come soon, according to a report from Reuters. The news service reported that the White House has pushed back the proposed rule for the RFS levels out of "political concerns." Expectations had been that they would be announced this month and finalized by the statutory deadline of November 30. The 2021 levels were not even proposed in 2020 and the deadline for those was already missed. In fact, the proposed levels for 2021 and 2022 have not even been sent to the Office of Management and Budget for their review. While the report suggests political considerations are keeping the plan on hold, there have been several court decisions now that could also have affected the proposed levels. But no matter the case, it appears the proposed marks are not going to emerge yet this month.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 21, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The U.S. Energy Department's weekly report of energy inventories, including ethanol production, is set for 9:30 a.m. CDT and is Wednesday's only official report. Traders will continue to pay close attention to the latest weather forecasts and any news of export sales that comes up. Any news pertaining to U.S. renewable fuels mandates will also turn heads with rumors circulating late Tuesday. Weather Scattered showers will continue near the Gulf Coast Wednesday. A frontal boundary and weak system will produce some isolated showers for the Northern Plains and Upper Midwest as well, but coverage and amounts will be low. Dryness elsewhere will help progress for winter wheat harvest and saturated soils to drain.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 20, 2021 |


Animal Ag Organizations Launch Protein PACT U.S. animal agriculture groups Monday announced the Protein PACT. The coalition is the first joint initiative designed to accelerate momentum and verify progress toward global sustainable development goals across the animal protein sector. The Protein PACT was submitted to the UN Food Systems Summit as a sustainability game changer, and sustainable livestock and poultry production will be featured in a side event at the upcoming Food Systems Summit ministerial in Rome next week. Alongside the debut of the Protein PACT, the North American Meat Institute released its draft sustainability framework and is soliciting public comments to set transparent baselines and measure progress toward sustainability goals. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts states the framework "encompasses more than 100 metrics developed through extensive collaboration with sustainability experts, supply chain partners, and Meat Institute members.” Other members of the Protein PACT include the National Pork Board, The U.S. Meat Export Federation and the National Corn Growers Association. *********************************************************************************** Deadline Fast Approaching for Conservation Reserve Program General Signup The Department of Agriculture reminds producers the signup deadline for the Conservation Reserve Program current general signup is fast approaching. Eligible producers must submit their offers by July 23, 2021. USDA’s Farm Service Agency made several changes to CRP to make it more appealing to all producers, including those who are historically underserved, beginning, and veterans. FSA added incentives to encourage producers to include climate-smart practices in their operations to increase natural resource and environmental benefits. FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux ((DOO-shu-know) says to farmers, “Explore the increased payment rates and new incentives for climate-smart agricultural practices to see if elements of the revamped CRP fit your operation.” USDA’s goal is to enroll up to four million new CRP acres by raising payment rates and expanding the incentives offered under the program. CRP is capped at 25 million acres for fiscal year 2021, but the cap will gradually increase to 27 million acres by fiscal year 2023. *********************************************************************************** Rabobank, TELUS Agriculture Purchase Conservis Rabobank and TELUS Agriculture Monday announced the acquisition of Conservis, a company that integrates farm technologies into one streamlined management interface. Together, Rabobank and TELUS Agriculture bring the expertise, experience, and global presence to further develop the Conservis farm management platform. The platform helps solve farmers' data challenges, empower their decision-making, and create sustainable, profitable opportunities with other contributors in the food value chain. Conservis enables family and institutional farms to organize data from different sources, eliminate error-prone manual entries, create business plans, and confidently manage costs, production and marketing throughout the entire year. The companies say that Conservis customers have a solution that aggregates a farm's data into a single resource. Since 2018, Rabobank’s Rabo AgriFinance has been a development partner for Conservis. Rabobank Managing Board member Berry Marttin states, “we look forward to partnering with them and leveraging their team's expertise and technological integration across the food system." *********************************************************************************** Pivot Bio Raises $430 Million to Replace Synthetic Fertilizers in Agriculture Pivot Bio Monday announced the close of a $430 million Series D funding, bringing the total equity raised to more than $600 million. In venture capital terminology, the term Series D Funding refers to the fourth stage of a financing cycle of new business growth. The funding will fuel the company's release of products focused on replacing the $60 billion of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer sold each year to sustain corn, wheat, and rice. Pivot Bio says synthetic nitrogen fertilizer supports the demands of today's global food system. However, the company calls synthetic nitrogen fertilizer inefficient, expensive for farmers, and it contributes to seven percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, depletes soils, and harms water supplies and fisheries. Since the company introduced the industry's first commercially available microbial nitrogen in 2019, Pivot Bio has replaced synthetic nitrogen on more than one million crop acres in 2021 alone, representing more than 300 percent growth year-over-year and unprecedented agricultural product adoption. *********************************************************************************** OPEC to Raise Oil Production to Pre-COVID Levels The nation's average gas price increased 1.3 cents per gallon from a week ago to $3.16 per gallon. But relief may be on the way with oil production increases coming. The national average now stands 10.2 cents higher than a month ago and 98.0 cents higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel increased 2.0 cents in the last week and stands at $3.27 per gallon. U.S. gasoline demand rose slightly last week across most of the nation. Nationally, weekly gasoline demand rose 1.8 percent. OPEC, however, plans to increase production monthly until 2022, reaching pre-COVID levels. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, says, "It’s a positive development in light of U.S. gasoline demand which rose nearly two percent last week, which should act as a loose ceiling on the price of oil.” With the announced production increases, fuel prices are closer to seeing a peak in national averages. *********************************************************************************** Farm Journal Announces Easton Corbin to Headline #FarmON Benefit Concert Farm Journal recently announced country music star Easton Corbin will headline the live 2021 #FarmON Benefit Concert during Farm Journal Field Days. Proceeds from this second annual benefit concert will go to the National FFA Foundation. Highlights from the concert will air in prime time on Monday, September 20, 2021, from 7 to 8 p.m. CDT, on RFD-TV and stream on other online and social networks. Farm Journal President Charlene Finck states, “This concert not only serves as the grand finale event of our Great American Farm Show experience but also as a thank you to farmers, ranchers and everyone who keeps our food system moving forward.” The #FarmON movement is fueled by the engagement of farmers and ranchers everywhere and will be a prominent part of the Great American Farm Show, which includes the 29th annual Pro Farmer Crop Tour and Farm Journal Field Days. For more information about the #FarmON Benefit Concert and Farm Journal Field Days, go to www.farmjournalfielddays.com.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 20, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Border Carbon Tax Introduced Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif., have introduced what is called the FAIR Transition and Competition Act of 2021, a plan that would address costs faced by U.S. businesses as they seek to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. "Despite the leadership of many U.S. businesses in reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions, they will be left at a disadvantage as trading partners consider levying carbon-related tariffs on certain goods," said a release from the two lawmakers. "The FAIR Transition and Competition Act of 2021 will establish a border carbon adjustment on carbon-intensive imports to account for the cost incurred by U.S. businesses to comply with laws and regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions." So what is a border carbon adjustment? A tax. It will be a tax levied on imports that the lawmakers say is "imported pollution." The lawmakers said it would address the "carbon leakage that undermines urgent climate action." A summary of the plan said it would base the import fee on the "domestic environmental cost incurred and will initially cover goods that are both carbon-intensive and exposed to trade competition, including aluminum, cement, iron, steel, natural gas, petroleum, and coal." But the legislative language also includes that there could be additional products added if there is "reliable data" on the GHG emissions of a product and that it is "in the interest of the United States" to include the product as one where a border tax. There could be some interesting developments linked to the "fee" or tariff or "tax," as they note that under the law, a "domestic environmental cost incurred by businesses" would be developed. The effort would start in 2023 with several determinations required to be made by the U.S. government, primarily by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The legislation divvies up the funds received via the tax with 50% going to grants to states and 50% to be used for "high-impact research, development, demonstration, technology transfer, commercialization, and export of technologies that reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions." That could become a relatively broad definition that firms will eye to use for research efforts. Those grants would start in 2025. In a bid to no doubt attract support in certain sectors, the grant portion would be aimed at providing job training and worker transition assistance "with priority given to workers and former workers in fossil fuel-related industries." That is aimed at getting the support from lawmakers from states that currently produce oil, natural gas and coal. And there's even a mention to generate support from agriculture, as the funds would be used to implement plans like climate-smart infrastructure and "agricultural climate solutions" would be build "climate resilience and support carbon sequestration." The grants to states would be set by an amount that takes into account the percent of the population of the U.S. living in that state, the vulnerability of the state to climate change and the percent of the total workforce employed in fossil-fuel-related industries that are employed in a state. The legislation also lists several "slow-onset climate hazards," which they define as sea level rise, desertification, biodiversity loss, increasing temperatures, ocean acidification, soil salinization, drought, land and natural resource degradation, glacial retreat or reduced snowpack and related impacts, and permafrost thaw. This is aimed at funding the transition to address climate change. But what is not covered by the legislation is what happens if products exported by the U.S. are subject to similar taxes by other countries. The U.S. has also warned that if a border carbon tax is put in place by other countries, the U.S. may opt to take trade action against those countries. There is the potential too that products outside those covered by this border fee could be hit by retaliatory actions by an importing country, negatively impacting those exports from the U.S. So we will see. This effort seems like one that could be loaded with the infamous "law of unintended consequences" and therefore needs to be watched very closely as this process unfolds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 20, 2021 |


China Continues to Focus on Commodity Hoarding, 'Malicious' Speculation Chinese authorities are continuing to focus on commodity prices, with the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology the latest to issue statements about the supply of bulk commodities. Reuters reported that the agency was focusing on the issue. "We will coordinate with relevant departments to ensure the stability of bulk commodities supplies and prices... guide upstream and downstream players in the industrial chain to stabilize production, supply and marketing of raw materials," ministry spokesperson Huang Libin told a press conference on Friday, according to a transcript on the ministry's website. "In responding to the risk of the market's price fluctuation, we must resolutely crack down on hoarding, malicious speculation, and the bidding up of prices." Other Chinese agencies have focused on commodity prices and have announced efforts to rein in commodity speculation as the country seeks to temper price increases.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 20, 2021 |


Impact Unclear From Court Ruling On RFS In Favor Of Environmentalists The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Friday ruled in favor of environmental groups who challenged EPA's conclusion that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) levels for 2019 did not pose a danger to the habitats of endangered species. The court said EPA violated the Endangered Species Act by not consulting with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service before setting the 2019 biofuel levels. The ruling orders EPA to reassess the 2019 levels. But the court also rejected claims by the biofuel industry that EPA set the 2019 levels too low and a claim by refiners that the levels were set too high. It is still not clear what impact the ruling will have and history has shown it may not be a quick turnaround on a reexamination of the issue by EPA.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 20, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on June U.S. housing starts is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday. Traders continue to pay close attention to the latest weather forecasts and will pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. After Monday's risk-off selling, coronavirus infection counts will get more attention again. Weather A lingering frontal boundary across the South and Southeast will continue to produce scattered showers Tuesday. Another near the U.S.-Canada border will produce some isolated showers as well. The middle of the country should stay dry, benefiting the continued winter wheat harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 19, 2021 |


Rural Mainstreet Index Stays in Growth Territory Creighton University’s Rural Mainstreet Index stayed above growth neutral for the seventh month in a row. The monthly survey of bank CEOs in areas that rely on agriculture and energy shows that the June index fell to a still strong 70.0 from May’s record high of 78.8. The index ranges from 0 to 100, with growth neutral at 50.0. Almost half of the bank CEOs say their local economy expanded between May and June. Dr. Ernie Goss, Mainstreet Index chief, says, “Strong grain prices, the Federal Reserve’s record-low interest rates, and growing exports have underpinned the Rural Mainstreet economy. Even so, current rural economic activity remains below pre-pandemic levels.” While the index number is still solid, several bank CEOs raised future concerns this month. Steve Simon of South Story Bank in Iowa says, “Continued dry conditions will start to affect markets and crops soon.” Bankers were asked to list what they thought would be the greatest threat to 2021-2022 bank operations. Approximately one quarter said a downturn in farm income, and another one-in-four named rising government regulation. For the ninth straight month, the farmland price index also advanced significantly above growth neutral, coming in at 75.9 in June. *********************************************************************************************** Interest Rates for Operating Loans Rise Slightly Interest rates on agricultural loans made by commercial banks increased slightly for some types of lending. However, the Federal Reserve of Kansas City says rates stayed historically low through the first half of this year. The average rate on non-real estate loans was about 30 basis points higher than the all-time low reached at the end of 2020. The rise was largely consistent across all types of loans. In contrast, the average rates on farm real estate loans continued to decline and marked another historic low. Rates also remain comparatively low at the largest commercial banks, and those lenders offered a sizable discount for the lowest-risk loans, while the smaller lenders continued to provide similar accommodation regardless of the risk. The Fed’s report says despite the slight increase in rates for operating loans, the historically-low-interest rate environment and muted demand for agricultural lending suggest that interest expenses have remained low relative to recent years. Profitability in the sector also continued to be supported by strong prices for most major commodities. The slight decline in financing costs for farm real estate may also provide ongoing support to farmland values. ********************************************************************************************** Germany Discovers ASF in Domestic Hogs Late last week, the first cases of African Swine Fever in domestic hogs appeared in Germany. Reuters says the ASF discovery could make negotiations about lifting existing import bans with China and other major buyers more difficult. However, experts predict no major impact will hit the German pork market right away. The disease was confirmed last Friday on two small farms in the same location where more than 1,200 cases have been found in wild boar. It likely won’t have a major impact on the country’s pork market because Germany’s exports are already subject to bans from many countries outside of the European Union. China and many other pork buyers banned German pork imports back in September of 2020 after the first ASF case was confirmed in wild animals, but German pork sales to other members of the EU continued. “The discovery of ASF on a German farm doesn’t change the overall situation that much with import bans already in place by China and other importers,” says Justin Sherrard, Global Strategist for Animal Protein at Rabobank. “They cannot restrict trade any further when trade is already stopped by other countries.” *********************************************************************************************** Groups Ask USTR to Not Threaten Vietnam with Tariffs The American Soybean Association and 70 other business groups expressed concern to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai regarding proposed tariffs on Vietnam. The imposed tariffs would respond to a pair of Section 301 investigations initiated under the Trump administration, alleging “currency manipulation” and “illegal timber practices.’ In a letter sent last week to the ambassador, the organizations strongly urged the USTR not to use tariffs in response to either of those investigations. The letter cited the U.S. Treasury Department’s congressionally mandated “Report on Macroeconomic and Foreign Exchange Policies of Major Trading Partners of the United States,” which says there is “insufficient evidence” that Vietnam manipulates its exchange rate. Concerning Vietnam’s questioned logging practices, the groups feel an investigation by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service under the Lacey Act would be the most appropriate tool to use and not a Section 301 investigation. Vietnam is a top ten market for U.S. soy exports and would be a potential target for retaliation from Vietnam. ********************************************************************************************** Corn and Soybean Export Sales Drop The USDA says export sales of corn and soybeans both plunged, while wheat sales rose during the week ending on July 8. Corn sales during the week totaled 138,800 metric tons, a 20 percent drop from the previous week. Still, that’s a 31 percent improvement from the prior four-week average. Japan was the biggest corn buyer at 191,500 metric tons. Sales for the 2021-2022 marketing year that begins on September 1 totaled just over 133,000 metric tons. Exports for the week dropped 18 percent to 1.06 million tons. Soybean sales dropped 66 percent to 21,700 metric tons during the week ending July 8. That’s also down 76 percent from the previous average. Indonesia was the top soybean buyer at 61,500 metric tons. Sales for the next marketing year came in at almost 291,000 metric tons, while exports dropped 11 percent to 197,700 metric tons. Wheat sales were the more positive number, rising 46 percent week-to-week and 44 percent from the five-year average. Unknown countries were the top buyers at 132,700 metric tons of wheat. Exports for the week dropped five percent week-to-week to almost 366,000 metric tons. ********************************************************************************************** NCBA Making Free Trade Show Admission Available for FFA Members The yearly Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show bring together producers and their families from across the country. This year’s event is August 10-12 in Nashville, Tennessee, and it will also provide an opportunity for the industry’s youth to gather, learn, and share ideas. To encourage young people to participate, Culver’s is sponsoring “FFA Day” at the NCBA Trade Show on Thursday, August 12. The first 250 FFA members to register will get complimentary NCBA Trade Show admission, courtesy of Culvers. The restaurant chain will also share their custard during a “blue jacket social” for FFA members and alumni on August 12. “The future of the industry depends on the next generation, so we encourage FFA members to join us in Nashville,” says Kristin Torres, NCBA executive director of meetings and events. “The NCBA Trade Show offers so many educational and networking opportunities that it is important for young people to attend and gain valuable experience.” FFA members should use the code “FFACULVERS” to get free admission. Those members who don’t get a chance at the free tickets can still get a significantly discounted rate of $30 per person.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 19, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US, China Dispute Still Percolating The dispute between the U.S. and China at the World Trade Organization over China's implementation of their tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) on grain imports continues to linger at the world trade body. The U.S. originally filed a complaint at the WTO over China's TRQ operation which they maintained restricted U.S. grain shipments to China. The WTO sided with the U.S. in 2019 and China did not challenge the WTO ruling. The dispute centered on China's WTO 2001 commitment to set TRQs for wheat, corn and rice that impose a lower tariff rate to imports up to a certain quantity. China did not appeal the ruling and agreed to bring its measures into WTO compliance by June 29, 2021 However, the filing Friday at the WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) indicated the U.S. believes China has not brought their program in line with that WTO ruling from 2019. “United States requests authorization from the DSB to suspend concessions or other obligations with respect to China at an annual level based on the level of the nullification or impairment of benefits accruing to the United States under the covered agreements from the failure of China to implement the recommendations of the DSB,” the U.S. said. The U.S. said their sought-after retaliation was based on a formula “that relates to the value of the unfilled portion of any tariff-rate quota (TRQ) for wheat, rice, or corn, as set out in China's WTO Schedule.” With June 29 having come and gone, the U.S. said China “failed to bring its measures into compliance with its WTO obligations within that period. The parties have not reached agreement on compensation.” That means, the U.S. said, they are now entitled to take countermeasures against China over the situation. The U.S. has previously maintained that the unfilled portion of the TRQs prevented some $3.5 billion in U.S. exports to China. However, China maintained they have met the requirements of the WTO ruling and the two sides have agreed to let the U.S. continue to evaluate its actions to come into compliance. Indeed, China had failed to fill its TRQs for the three commodities for several years leading up to the U.S. complaint. And only in the past two years have they exceeded their TRQ levels for corn. China also committed as part of the Phase One agreement between the U.S. and China that they would import levels of commodities that would suggest the country was going to exceed their TRQ levels. But it is not clear that they have done so yet for certain other than corn. So we will see. This is the latest in what has been rising tensions between the U.S. and China since the Biden administration took office and this could have yet another impact on trade between the two sides and should be watched very closely as it unfolds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 19, 2021 |


USDA Seeks Input From Public On Program To Expand Meat Processing USDA on Friday published a notice in the Federal Register seeking public input on a host of issues related to their announcement of deploying $500 million in a combination of grants, loans and technical assistance to expand U.S. meat processing capacity. The agency has set an August 30 deadline for those to provide information on scores of questions posed by USDA on the effort. USDA is seeking input on “how to invest an estimated $500 million of American Rescue Plan funds to improve infrastructure, increase capacity, and hasten diversification across the processing industry.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 19, 2021 |


Moffitt Pledges to Reach Out to Stakeholders if Approved for USDA Post Members of the Senate Agriculture Committee were repeatedly assured by Jennifer Moffitt, nominated to be USDA undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, that she would study issues under her purview carefully and seek input from a host of stakeholders in making decisions and that she would taken an “inclusive approach to solving problems.” Moffitt has been a walnut farmer in California and served as an undersecretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture. On the coming regulations ordered by President Joe Biden to update the Packers & Stockyards Act, Moffitt said she would reach out to stakeholders across the food supply chain and “weigh those complexities, and really understand what it means for farmers and ranchers,” promising to take “a nuanced approach” to the rulemaking. She also indicated it was important to “ensure that the food system and the meat system is fair and competitive.” There were no specifics offered by Moffitt relative to several issues, a situation which can be typical for nominees to various government posts that require Senate confirmation and it is a pattern seen with many other appointees to such roles across the Biden and prior administrations.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 19, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets It is fair to say traders will be examining the latest weather forecasts Sunday and early Monday in the ongoing effort to guess fall yields. USDA's weekly grain export inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT Monday, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Weather An old frontal boundary stalled around the South and Southeast will create plenty of scattered showers and thunderstorms on Monday. There could be some isolated thunderstorms across eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota as well, while most other areas remain dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 16, 2021 |


Trade Representative Tai Travels to Wisconsin U.S. Trade Representative Kathrine Tai traveled to Wisconsin Thursday to discuss how trade can help farmers in the state. Joined by Representative Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat, the pair toured Hamburg Hills Farm and hosted a roundtable with farmers. The roundtable focused on how trade policy can better help the farming and agriculture industry and its workers. The visit followed a top Ag lawmaker's visit. Earlier this week, Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee, Glenn GT Thompson, also visited Wisconsin. Meeting with Wisconsin Farm Bureau, topics included processing capabilities and commodity prices, trade, retaliatory tariffs, rural broadband, labor and regulations for hemp. Thomson also toured various Wisconsin farms and held a dairy roundtable discussion with farmers. Topics during the roundtable conversation covered milk pricing and the need for transparency, updates to the Federal Milk Marketing Orders, dairy export opportunities, labor shortages, access to whole milk in schools and milk labeling enforcement by FDA. *********************************************************************************** USDA Awards $12 Million in Farm to School Grants The Department of Agriculture is investing $12 million in Farm to School Grants this year, announcing awards to 176 grantees, the most projects funded since the program began in 2013. The department is also releasing new data demonstrating the recent growth of farm-to-school efforts nationwide. Nearly two-thirds of school districts and/or local entities responsible for school meals participated in farm-to-school activities during school year 2018-2019, more than half of which began within the past three years. In school year 2018-2019, school districts purchased nearly $1.3 billion in local fruits, vegetables, and other foods, totaling approximately 20 percent of all school food purchases. This year's Farm to School Grants will help expand the access to fresh, local foods and hands-on agricultural learning for children across 45 states and the District of Columbia. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states, "Not only will this give children more nutritious food options in school, it supports local agriculture economies.” *********************************************************************************** Program Increases Beef Quality and Consumer Confidence As the Beef Checkoff celebrates its 35th anniversary, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association highlights the successful promotion and research programs that drive the demand for beef. The Beef Quality Assurance program has improved beef quality and increased consumer confidence for more than 30 years. Managed by NCBA, the Checkoff-funded voluntary BQA program ensures U.S. beef is produced under stringent animal care standards to provide safe, high-quality meat. The BQA program trains farmers and ranchers on best practices and cattle management techniques to ensure their animals and the environment are cared for within a standard set of guidelines across the U.S. beef industry. With more than 85 percent of the beef supply in the U.S. today coming from a BQA certified farmer or rancher, consumers should have the utmost confidence in the beef they purchase, according to NCBA. BQA programs have evolved to include best practices around record keeping and protecting herd health, which can result in more profits for producers. *********************************************************************************** Soy Checkoff Investments Work to Increase Profitability for U.S. Soybean Farmers The 78 farmer-leaders of the United Soybean Board approved new projects designed to drive innovation, increase value and create additional demand for U.S. soybeans. The goal ultimately is to increase profitability for U.S. soybean farmers. During the organization's summer board meeting this week, leaders approved 181 new checkoff-funded projects with a total budget allocation of $78 million, for the 2022 fiscal year, starting October 1, 2021. Projects are considered and reviewed based on alignment with the checkoff’s overall objectives for supply, marketplace and demand across the target areas of soybean meal, oil and sustainability. USB CEO Polly Ruhland states, “U.S. soybean farmers remain steadfast and resilient in their pursuit to produce sustainable, high-quality soybeans that are preferred by customers.” Specific projects focus on supply oil, recouping lost demand in the edible soy oil market and expanding to markets elsewhere by supplying high oleic soybean oil. Other top priorities include marketplace sustainability and soybean meal demand. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy The Department of Agriculture Thursday announced a new Southeast Alaska Sustainability Strategy. The strategy seeks to support a diverse economy, enhance community resilience, and conserve natural resources. Through this strategy, USDA will consult with Tribes and Alaska Native corporations, and engage partners and communities in a collaborative process. USDA will invest approximately $25 million in financial and technical resources in sustainable opportunities for economic growth and community well-being and identify priorities for future investments. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has directed leaders of multiple USDA agencies, including the Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Rural Development, to consult with Tribes and work together to identify priorities for investment. Vilsack says, “This approach will help us chart the path to long-term economic opportunities that are sustainable,” for the region. USDA’s actions are intended to support local economies and preserve Alaska’s expansive old growth temperate rainforest, a resource that is increasingly rare globally. *********************************************************************************** America’s Conservation Ag Movement Supports Indiana Conservation Event Indiana farmers are invited to participate in a free farm machinery and conservation ag event later this month. “Conservation Tillage and Technology - At the Intersection,” is set for Thursday, July 29, at a farm near Flora, Indiana. America’s Conservation Ag Movement, one of America’s largest public-private partnerships committed to conservation agriculture and sustainability, is working on the local level to bring this event to producers in the Wabash watershed area. Producers are encouraged to attend live in-field demonstrations and conversations on topics, including farmer-led conservation partnerships, strip-tillage demonstrations, planter setups for no-till and green planting, and an update from Purdue Agronomy. The event is free and hosted by Oyler’s Farm. Support for the event comes from the foundational partners of America’s Conservation Ag Movement, The Nature Conservancy, Carroll County Soil & Water Conservation District, Farm Journal Foundation, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation. To learn more or to register for the event, visit farmjournal.swoogo.com/Wabash.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 16, 2021 |


Washington Insider: The WTO and Fisheries The World Trade Organization (WTO) has seen little activity in terms of progressing on key issues, but the areas of fisheries subsidies may now be one of the areas where an agreement could be at hand. The world trade body has been beset by a lack of agreement on a host of issues over the past several years it seems, with agricultural issues and the matter of the Appellate Body also seeing no unity among members. On the latter, the U.S. has blocked the naming of new members to the Appellate Body, keeping it from being able to hear any appeals on WTO dispute settlement body decisions. The Trump administration started the block, which brought the Appellate Body to a screeching halt in December when the terms of members of the appeals group expired. And while there were hopes around the globe that with the Biden administration now in place, the U.S. might be willing to go along with a compromise plan that has been backed by some 120 members of the WTO. But so far, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has not lifted the U.S. block. She has said that reforms to the Appellate Body are indeed needed. The Trump block emerged on the contention that appeals body members were making law and not just deciding cases on their own merits. So far, the U.S. has not said that was a wrong stance to take. Some of the optimism for progress on that and other topics at the WTO came earlier this year when a new chief of the WTO was chosen in the form of Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria. That was one change the U.S. eventually backed. The Trump administration did not support her to lead the WTO, but the Biden team shifted gears and threw their support behind her, making her the first woman and the first woman of color to lead the WTO. As she took to the helm of the trade body, she expressed hope that an agreement on fisheries subsidies could be reached ahead of the upcoming ministerial meeting of the WTO in November. Governments provide approximately $35 billion in fisheries subsidies annually, with the vast majority going to large-scale, industrial fishing fleets, according to a piece in the Washington Post penned by Kristen Hopewell, an associate professor in the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at the University of British Columbia. "Countries that have depleted their own fish stocks are using these subsidies to allow their fleets to travel vast distances to exploit fisheries resources in distant waters," Hopewell said. "By some estimates, more than half of all fishing activity in the high seas would not exist without subsidies." Fisheries subsidies have long been a contentious issue, one that has not come to a solution in years despite repeated tries at ironing out the differences on the issues. While Okonjo-Iweala made it a priority when she took over in April, just this week she expressed disappointment at the lack of progress and even openly stated that maybe an agreement by the November ministerial would not be possible. Perhaps that somber tone was enough to shift the dynamic on the issue as trade ministers suddenly Thursday blessed a negotiating text on curbing fisheries subsidies, a move that will now allow negotiators to move to "line-by-line" text-based talks. "Today we were looking for political guidance, political support, to move forward. And for the first time in 20 years, we have a text that has been agreed and blessed by all the ministers and heads of delegations," Okonjo-Iweala told reporters following conclusion of a ministerial meeting Thursday. "We couldn't have wished for a better outcome, let me put it that way, because it means that we can now move to the next steps." While USTR Tai said the text will serve as the basis for a member-led, text-based negotiation, the U.S. still believes that the text "does not yet contain the elements required for reaching conclusion." The steps now are for negotiations with the revised text serving as the basis for getting an agreement. Okonjo-Iweala said the line-by-line process would not have been able to be reached had it not been for those on the political side to get on board with the draft text. "What is new is that we're going to move into this line-by-line negotiations," she said. "And that's the ultimate. Because it wasn't clear that we had the political direction to be able to use this 30th of June text to proceed. And you can only have this line by line when you have a text that everybody agrees is a basis. So, that's what we got today." There certainly is hope now that the WTO can get an agreement on one of the most contentious issues on trade. But even as there is hope, there is also a realism that this is just largely an agreement now to get down to the hard negotiations. So we will see. There is optimism, but in any negotiations, the hardest part are the final details. So this is a situation that needs to be watched closely as it could signal the world trade body is potentially able to break out of a funk of a lack of progress on several fronts, and if it does, that could have countries potentially next eyeing agriculture, yet another one of the thorniest topics for the world trade body, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 16, 2021 |


Justice Requires Divestiture in Merger of Ag Equipment Component Makers The Department of Justice (DOJ) said it will require Danfoss A/S and Eaton Corporation Plc to divest assets from the companies' orbital motor and hydraulic steering unit manufacturing businesses before their merger can proceed. Without the divestitures, DOJ said the combination of the two firms would "substantially lessen competition in the design, manufacture, and sale of orbital motors and hydraulic steering units used in agricultural, industrial and construction equipment." Danfoss and Eaton are the two largest makers of orbital motors used for mobile off-road equipment like skid steers, harvesting equipment, sprayers and street sweepers. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, the parties must divest three Danfoss orbital motor and hydraulic steering unit facilities located in Hopkinsville, Kentucky; Parchim, Germany; and Wroclaw, Poland, and two orbital motor production lines and one hydraulic steering unit production line from Eaton facilities located in Shawnee, Oklahoma, and Eden Prairie, Minnesota, to Interpump Group or an alternate firm approved by the U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 16, 2021 |


Lawmakers Offer Bills for Year-Round E15 Sales Lawmakers in both the House and Senate introduced legislation to give EPA the authority to authorize sales of E15 all year, seeking to address a court decision which invalidated EPA's regulatory action to make such sales possible. Lawmakers are seeking to build bipartisan support for the bills, and some expect it could be melded into other legislation such as infrastructure. Reps. Angie Craig, D., Minn., and Adrian Smith, R., Neb., introduced the Year-Round Fuel Choice Act (HR 4410), and Sens. Deb Fischer, R., Neb., and Amy Klobuchar, D., Minn., have dropped in the Consumer and Fuel Retailers Choice Act. The House bill currently has 22 co-sponsors, while the Senate measure has at least 10. The bills would clarify EPA's authority to grant a 1-psi Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) waivers for E15 and higher ethanol blends, permitting sales of the fuels during the summer driving months from May 1 to September 15.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 16, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Traders continue to keep a close watch on the latest weather forecasts and any observed rainfall amounts. There is a June report on U.S. retail sales due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. CDT At 11 a.m. CDT, USDA will put out its monthly Livestock, Dairy and Poultry outlook. Weather Moderate to heavy showers will continue along a frontal boundary on Friday from the southeastern Plains through the eastern Midwest. Some flooding will be possible with the rain but will be otherwise good for developing to reproductive row crops.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 15, 2021 |


Iowa Rep. Axne Introduces Year-Round Fuel Choice Act House legislation introduced Wednesday seeks to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to allow the sale of E15 and higher blends of ethanol year-round. The Year-Round Fuel Choice Act, introduced by Iowa Republican Representative Cindy Axne, follows a recent D.C. Circuit Court decision that struck down an EPA rule that allowed year-round sale of E15. Axne states, “I’m proud to work with my colleagues in the House Biofuels Caucus to quickly introduce this necessary legislation.” Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, and the National Corn Growers Association support the legislation, as well as lawmakers from many corn-producing states. On July 2, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an EPA rule that allowed retailers to sell E15 blends year-round through issuing a Reid Vapor Pressure waiver. The ruling determined the EPA did not have the authority for such action, but said nothing about the quality, safety, or benefits of E15. *********************************************************************************** NCBA Calls Senator Booker’s Bill Misguided The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association calls a bill introduced by Senator Cory Booker misguided. The Farm System Reform Act, reintroduced Wednesday by the New Jersey Democrat, would place a moratorium on concentrated animal feeding operations, known as CAFOs. Specifically, the legislation would place an immediate moratorium on new and expanding large CAFOs, and phase out by 2040 the largest CAFOs as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency. The bill would also restore mandatory country-of-origin labeling requirements for beef and pork and expand to dairy products. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane states the legislation "is the kind of broad, jumbled mess you get when you're more focused on Twitter and talking points than the sound legislating rural Americans need." Specific to feeedyards, Lane adds, “As our food supply chain is taxed by a growing number of mouths to feed at home and abroad, this efficient production system will be more vital than ever.” *********************************************************************************** Gillibrand Planning Dairy Subcommittee Hearing on Pricing Senator Kirsten Gillibrand this week says she is moving forward with a dairy pricing hearing. The New York Democrat announced permission was granted for a hearing in the U.S. Senate Agriculture Subcommittee she chairs on Dairy, Livestock, Poultry, Local Food Systems, Food Safety and Security. Although a Senate calendar date is not yet confirmed, the hearing is supposed to occur after the August recess. Previously, Gillibrand told reporters she is working on milk pricing legislation and wants to have hearings to allow input from farmers, milk handlers and academia. Front and center is the Class I fluid milk pricing change made in the 2018 Farm Bill from the ‘higher of’ Class III or IV manufacturing prices to an averaging method. That changed the base price for Class I by a net loss of over $783 million across the 26 months of implementation, contributing to class price misalignments that disrupted Federal Milk Marketing Orders. *********************************************************************************** Food Prices Higher in Latest Consumer Price Index The June Consumer Price Index Summary released this week increased .9 percent, the largest monthly change since June of 2008. The food index increased 0.8 percent in June. The food away from home index rose 0.7 percent, and the food at home index increased 0.8 percent. As in May, the food at home increase was mostly due to the index for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs, which increased 2.5 percent over the month. All six major grocery store food group indexes increased, but the index for fruits and vegetables was the only one to rise more than 0.8 percent, increasing 3.2 percent. The beef index rose 4.5 percent in June, its largest one-month increase since June 2020. In contrast to these increases, the index for cereals and bakery products was the only one of the six major grocery store category indexes to decline in June, falling 0.3 percent over the month after increasing 0.5 percent in May. *********************************************************************************** EU Announces Climate Plan The European Commission Wednesday adopted a package of ambitious climate proposals. The proposal makes the EU's climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies “fit” for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Achieving the emission reductions in the next decade is “crucial to Europe becoming the world's first climate-neutral continent by 2050” and making the European Green Deal a reality, according to the commission. The Regulation on Land Use, Forestry and Agriculture sets an overall EU target for carbon removals by natural sinks, equivalent to 310 million tons of CO2 emissions by 2030. And the Renewable Energy Directive will set an increased target to produce 40 percent of EU energy from renewable sources by 2030. Finally, the proposal includes a carbon price on imports of select products to ensure climate action in Europe does not lead to ‘carbon leakage.’ The carbon price is a concern, however, for EU trading partners. *********************************************************************************** Illinois Wheat Yield Set a New Record Many wheat growers believed this year’s crop had a lot of potential prior to harvest. However, the most recent Illinois yield estimate released Monday by USDA’s National Ag Statistics Office in Springfield, Illinois, still caught some off guard. This year’s average in Illinois - 80 bushels per acre - blew past the 2017 record by four bushels. The new state record yield also topped last year’s average by a whopping 12 bushels per acre. Heavy rains and strong winds threatened wheat stands in parts of the state in recent weeks and caused some issues. But many farmers were able to get the crop out in time to avoid major losses. Overall, USDA pegged winter wheat production at 52 million bushels in Illinois, up 47 percent from last year, and 1.36 billion bushels nationwide, up four percent from the June estimate, with a national average yield of 53.6 bushels per acre, up 2.7 bushels from 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 15, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Inflation and Discussing it Keeps Rising It's hard to read any major business-related publication or make a visit to a store or watch government data without seeing some signs of inflationary pressures in the U.S. economy. Inflation at the consumer level as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which rose 0.9% in June compared with May, mounting a 5.4% advance from a year ago, the biggest jump in prices since 2008. In what is known as the "core" rate of inflation -- it strips out the volatile categories of food and energy prices -- inflation in June also rose 0.9%, and the 4.5% rise on an annualized basis was the biggest since 1991. One of the biggest factors was the prices for used cars and trucks. The chip shortages have shot used car and truck prices higher as new models are in short supply or some have given up on waiting months after months for a new vehicle. The 10.5% rise in used car and truck prices in June came after those prices rose more than 7% in May and 10% in April. Food prices showed a more-tempered rise, although the cost of eating out increased significantly. Restaurant prices rose 0.7% for the month and posted a 4.2% rise over the past year, while grocery store prices were up 0.8% from May, but only posted an annual increase of 0.9%, according to the BLS. The rise in restaurant prices on an annualized basis was the biggest rise since May 2009. At the grocery store, beef prices were a key as they rose 4.5% in June, the biggest monthly rise since June 2020. Indeed, there are reports of employers seeking to attract workers by raising wages. Recent data from the government also bore that out, and the unemployment rate is still around 5.9%. But the Fed continues to insist that the rise in prices is "transitory" or that it will not become embedded or sustained enough to damage the U.S. economy. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell acknowledged the rise in inflation in his testimony to the House Financial Services Committee, but reiterated the Fed view that it will "moderate" over time. "Inflation has increased notably and will likely remain elevated in the coming months before moderating," Powell said. But the rise in prices is being "temporarily boosted by base effects, as the sharp pandemic-related price declines from last spring drop out of the 12-month calculation." He also pointed to "strong demand in sectors where production bottlenecks or other supply constraints have limited production and has led to especially rapid price increases for some goods and services, which should partially reverse as the effects of the bottlenecks unwind." Those bottlenecks have certainly been seen in several areas of the U.S. economy as the restart from the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded. The pandemic caused changes in supply chains around the globe and those are not easy things to reverse. And a sudden surge in demand as consumers now have the ability get out and do things like eat out, shop and travel has put the services sector in a bind. The torrid pace of lumber price increases appears to have abated, another factor that would have produced a bigger hit on the housing sector if not for low interest rates that have allowed home sellers to get their asking price or more for their properties. And, those properties are not staying on the market long. The Federal Reserve's Beige Book report, an anecdotal recap of economic conditions around the country that is issued two weeks before the next Fed rate-setting meeting, also acknowledged the price hikes. The recap noted too, that the "growth in input prices is continuing to outpace that of finished goods and services." Businesses told the Fed, however, they were seeing an "improved ability to raise final selling prices to consumers, especially in the retail, wholesale trade, and manufacturing sectors, and some cited plans to increase selling prices in the coming months." And while Powell kept his inflationary remarks virtually unchanged from where he has been for several weeks now, lawmakers at the hearing Wednesday are starting to question that view. "I can tell you that the families and businesses I represent are not feeling that these price spikes are temporary," Rep. Ann Wagner, R., Mo., told Powell. "It is housing, appliances, food prices, gas." Powell and the Fed have insisted that they believe inflation will run above their 2% target "for some time." Keep in mind, that the CPI data released this week is not the guide that the Fed uses to measure inflation. Instead, they rely on what is called the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), a broader measure of inflation that includes CPI but other components. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, R., Ohio, pressed Powell on that term "for some time," asking the Fed chair to provide some indication of what that time period is. "It depends," Powell said. Part of that is that Powell has so far refused to be drawn into committing to a timeline on the Fed's actions. He has learned from prior Fed leaders who have made comments on timing of various things to Congress only have those quickly become a market assumption that will dictate action by the Fed. Powell has insisted the central bank cannot be locked into a set path on monetary policy and has to have the flexibility to address situations as they arise. And he also made the remark to lawmakers, "You wouldn't react to something that is likely to go away." No doubt that will not set well with those who are seeing prices rise at the grocery store, the gas pump and other places. The Fed clearly has a difficult and delicate task on their hands, one that so far, they have navigated with some degree of success. But as the price increases come, there are concerns that a policy response from the Fed is needed. The concern is that a Fed response could result in higher borrowing costs. So, we will see. It adds another factor that U.S. agriculture needs to watch as the pandemic has driven down interest costs, which are an important cost factor that must be watched, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 15, 2021 |


US Steps Up Pressure on Businesses Over Xinjiang Situation The U.S. State Department, Treasury Department, Commerce Department, Home Security Department, Labor Department and Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued an updated "Xinjiang Supply Chain Business Advisory" to "highlight the heightened risks for businesses with supply chain and investment links to Xinjiang, given the entities complicit in forced labor and other human rights abuses there and throughout China." The new advisory updates the one issued in July 2020. The new advisory now includes information from the Department of Labor and USTR, which it said are now co-signatories to the advisory. The update stated that China "is perpetrating genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang" and it provides "specific information regarding risks related to investment in PRC [People's Republic of China] companies linked to surveillance and forced labor in Xinjiang." The new guidance does not have the force of law, but "strengthens recommendations for businesses regarding the risks and potential exposure" for supply chains and investment in Xinjiang. The new update also outlines the list of U.S. government enforcement actions taken and provides information on silicon and polysilicon supply chains linked to Xinjiang along with providing "a list of other countries' relevant regulatory provisions and information on forced labor in supply chains."

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 15, 2021 |


USDA Details Pandemic-Related Help for Depopulated Livestock USDA finally provided some details on animal depopulation/disposal assistance for livestock and poultry producers who suffered losses during the COVID-19 pandemic due to insufficient access to processing. Those producers can soon apply for assistance for those losses and the cost of depopulation and disposal of animals under the Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program (PLIP). Signup will be from July 20 through Sept. 17. Payments will be based on 80% of the fair market value of the livestock and poultry and for the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animal from March 1 through Dec. 26, 2020. Payments will be based on a single payment rate per head. PLIP payments will be calculated by multiplying the number of head of eligible livestock or poultry by the payment rate per head, and then subtracting the amount of any payments the eligible livestock or poultry owner has received for disposal of the livestock or poultry under the Natural Resources Conservation Service Environmental Quality Incentives Program or a state program. The payments will also be reduced by any Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 1 and 2) payments paid on the same inventory of swine that were depopulated. USDA has set aside "up to $50 million in pandemic assistance funds to provide additional assistance for small hog producers that use the spot market or negotiated prices. Details on the additional targeted assistance are expected to be available this summer." Packers, live poultry dealers and contract growers are not eligible for PLIP.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 15, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly Export Sales report will be released at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, the same time as weekly updates of U.S. jobless claims and the U.S. Drought Monitor. The Federal Reserve will report on industrial production in June at 8:15 a.m. CDT, followed by the Energy Department's weekly report on natural gas inventories at 9:30 a.m. ET. Also, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell speaks the U.S. Senate Thursday. Weather A frontal boundary from Kansas into Michigan will slowly slide south on Thursday, with periods of moderate to heavy showers and thunderstorms along it. Some continued disruption to the wheat harvest and flooding of saturated soils is possible, but overall, the rainfall will be beneficial to developing and reproductive corn and soybeans across the southern Corn Belt.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 14, 2021 |


USDA to Provide Pandemic Assistance to Livestock Producers for Animal Losses Livestock and poultry producers who suffered losses during the pandemic due to insufficient access to processing can apply for assistance from the Department of Agriculture. The assistance, announced Tuesday, covers the losses and costs of depopulation and disposal of animals. The Pandemic Livestock Indemnity Program is part of USDA’s Pandemic Assistance for Producers initiative. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 authorized payments to producers for losses of livestock or poultry depopulated from March 1, 2020, through December 26, 2020, due to insufficient processing access due to the pandemic. Payments will be based on 80 percent of the fair market value of the livestock and poultry and the cost of depopulation and disposal of the animal. Eligible livestock and poultry include swine, chickens and turkeys, but pork producers are expected to be the primary recipients of the assistance. Livestock and poultry producers can apply for assistance through USDA's Farm Service Agency from July 20 through September 17, 2021. *********************************************************************************** RMA Authorizes Emergency Procedures to Help Drought-Impacted Producers The Department of Agriculture Tuesday authorized emergency procedures to help farmers impacted by extreme drought conditions. USDA's Risk Management Agency is working with crop insurance companies to streamline and accelerate the adjustment of losses and issuance of indemnity payments to crop insurance policyholders in impacted areas. These new crop insurance flexibilities are part of USDA's broader response to help producers impacted by drought in the West, Northern Great Plains, Caribbean and other areas. Emergency procedures allow insurance companies to accept delayed notices of loss in certain situations, streamline paperwork, and reduce the number of required representative samples when damage is consistent. The flexibilities reduce burdens on both insurance companies and farmers. Producers should contact their crop insurance agent as soon as they notice damage. Producers impacted by drought may also qualify for other USDA programs, including disaster assistance and conservation programs. Visit farmers.gov to access USDA’s Disaster Assistance Discovery Tool. *********************************************************************************** UN Report: Pandemic Year Marked by Spike in World Hunger A new report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization shows a dramatic worsening of world hunger in 2020. While the pandemic's impact has yet to be fully mapped, the multi-agency report estimates that around a tenth of the global population - up to 811 million people - were undernourished last year. The number suggests it will take a tremendous effort for the world to honor its pledge to end hunger by 2030. This year's report is the first global assessment of its kind in the pandemic era. The report warns of a "critical juncture," even as it pins fresh hopes on increased diplomatic momentum. In 2020 hunger increased, outpacing population growth, as some 9.9 percent of all people are estimated to have been undernourished last year, up from 8.4 percent in 2019. The report says transforming food systems is essential to achieve food security, improve nutrition and put healthy diets within reach of all. *********************************************************************************** Groups Press for Higher Octane Fuel Standard A coalition of farm and renewable fuel organizations urge the Biden administration to propose a higher octane fuel standard. In a letter to President Joe Biden this week, the coalition also requested the Environmental Protection Agency open a comment period on the role high octane low carbon fuels can play in advancing the administration’s climate objectives. The effort complements a similar letter from the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, expressing support for high octane low carbon fuels. The letters come as the EPA updates its greenhouse gas emissions standards for passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks. The fuels improve vehicle and fuel efficiency, which in turn can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, conserve oil, and strengthen energy security. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew states, “That alone should be plenty of justification for the EPA to introduce a higher octane fuel standard.” The coalition includes National Farmers Union, American Farm Bureau Federation and multiple state commodity organizations. *********************************************************************************** AEM Releases June 2021 Equipment Sales Numbers Smaller tractors led declines in U.S. and Canada farm tractor sales while overall tractor inventories are down more than 40 percent year-over-year. Monthly data released by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers finds U.S. total farm tractor sales fell 12.7 percent in June compared to 2020, the second overall negative result in a year. Meanwhile, U.S. Combine sales increased 4.1 percent for the month. Small tractor sales led the decline, down 18.4 percent, while midsized tractor sales declined 3.1 percent. All other segments saw increased sales over the prior month. Year to date, U.S. farm tractor sales remain up 16.7 percent and combines up 11 percent. For Canada, June monthly tractor and combine sales were a mixed bag. Available inventories may explain some of the changes in sales, as U.S. total farm tractor inventory is 41.3 percent below levels in June 2020 while Canadian inventory is down 33.2 percent over that same time. *********************************************************************************** American Farmland Trust Shares Updated Soil Health Economic Calculator American Farmland trust Tuesday announced an update to its Retrospective Soil Health Economic Calculator Tool. The update provides farmers a means of evaluating the return on investment of soil health conservation practices with 2020 price and crop data. The previous version of the tool used 2019 information. The updated pricing allows farmers to obtain a more accurate picture of the costs and benefits of their investments in soil health. The calculator is part of a comprehensive set of resources from AFT on the Soil Health Case Study Methods and Took Kit webpage. The calculator tool allows the evaluation of soil health practices adopted by row crop farmers for more than four years and within the last 15 years. The tool presents the net economic benefits in a partial budget analysis table and includes an estimate of the ROI in the soil health practices. AFT also released a customized almond version to estimate the economic effects of almond-specific soil health practices.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 14, 2021 |


Washington Insider FTC About to Become Busier The broad executive order issued by President Joe Biden on competitiveness, "Promoting Competition in the U.S. Economy," directs several government agencies to take a series of actions on the regulatory front that would address what the administration says is a lack of competitiveness in several areas of the U.S. economy. One of the agencies that will have quite a role in the actions is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which in reality is an independent government agency that dates back to 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation creating the agency. The FTC opened its doors March 16, 1915, given a mission to "protect consumers and promote competition." But the agency did have a predecessor -- the Bureau of Corporations. The Commission is headed by five Commissioners, nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, each serving a seven-year term. No more than three Commissioners can be of the same political party. The President chooses one Commissioner to act as Chair. So this agency, while a federal government agency, does have some autonomy in that the terms of commissioners can overlap from administration to administration. But the president gets to choose who leads the agency. That feeds into the current executive order in that the FTC has several mentions in that order. For example, they are given an important mention when it comes to cooperation between agencies on cases of overlapping jurisdiction when it comes to "major transactions." When those cases of overlap happen, the agencies involved are to give "significant consideration" to the views of the Attorney General and the FTC Chair. In fact, many of the actions outlined in the executive order call on the Attorney General and FTC Chair to take several actions in areas relative to mergers, wages collusion, and they are the lead on addressing issues like no-compete clauses, which the executive order calls on to be addressed in the event they "unfairly limit worker mobility." The FTC has a key role in the effort to improve farmers' and smaller food processors' access to retail markets. They are to work with USDA to come up with a report within 300 days that goes to the Chair of the White House Council on Competition established under the executive order. That report is to address the "effect of retail concentration and retailers' practices on the conditions of competition in the food industries, including any practices that may violate the Federal Trade Commission Act" and other laws. The FTC is also supposed to offer their consultation with the Secretary of the Treasury to prepare a report on markets for beer, wine, and spirits with an eye on improving access for smaller, independent and new operations. The FTC also has to weigh in on issues like generic drugs and biologics. But the biggest one for agriculture deals with the concept of right to repair. The executive order doesn't use that phrase but calls it "unfair anticompetitive restrictions on third-party repair or self-repair of items, such as the restrictions imposed by powerful manufacturers that prevent farmers from repairing their own equipment." And there, the ball pretty much is in the FTC's court as the order states that for that and some other key issues, the FTC Chair is "encouraged to consider working with the rest of the Commission to exercise the FTC's statutory rulemaking authority, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law." And it is not limited to right to repair, as the order also directs the FTC to look at area relative to prescription drugs, Internet, occupational licensing, real estate activities and "any other unfair industry-specific practices that substantially inhibit competition." So we will see. The FTC clearly has a big role to play in this executive order and the actions that are expected to come out of it, including several that focus on agriculture, which means the various reports and recommendations coming from the FTC need to be watched very closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 14, 2021 |


Senate Finance Committee Clears to Trade Nominees The Senate Finance Committee voted Tuesday to approve the nominations of two for trade posts at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, forwarding those nominations to the full Senate. The panel failed to have a quorum present initially, so the votes were held later on the sidelines of the Senate. The panel approved 27-1 the nomination of Sarah Bianchi to be deputy U.S. trade representative for Asia, Africa, investment, services, textiles, and industrial competitiveness. The panel also cleared 25-3 Jayme Ray White to be a deputy U.S. trade representative for the Western Hemisphere, Europe, the Middle East, labor, and environment. White and Bianchi told lawmakers in the confirmation hearings that the lapse in Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) should not keep the Biden administration from pursuing new trade agreements provided those deals were constructed to be able to win bipartisan backing in Congress. But the two did not signal the administration was ready to pursue any new trade deals at this point.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 14, 2021 |


USTR Mum on US-UK Trade Deal Prospects U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)Katherine Tai met UK Secretary of State for International Trade Elizabeth Truss, a sort of follow up to a session the two had in June. A readout of the session from USTR noted the two celebrated the Large Civil Aircraft framework reached between the U.S. and UK that "strengthens the cooperative relationship between the two countries in the aerospace sector." As with other sessions that Tai has had with world trade officials, it noted the two agreed to work together "to promote fair competition, enhance the international trade system, and address forced labor issues." The latter is viewed as clearly a reference to the actions of China. As for a U.S.-UK trade deal, the readout simply said the two "committed to continue strengthening the trade and economic partnership between the United States and United Kingdom."

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 14, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Following Tuesday's big jump in consumer prices, the Labor Department will release producer prices for June at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday. The Energy Department's weekly energy inventories are set for 9:30 a.m., followed by the Federal Reserve's Beige Book at 1 p.m. Traders will continue to pay close attention to the latest weather forecasts and observed rainfall amounts. Weather A batch of moderate to heavy rainfall over South Dakota and Nebraska Wednesday morning will move eastward into Wisconsin through the day. These areas may see 1 to 2 inches of rainfall and locally heavier, benefiting developing to reproductive crops currently in drought.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 13, 2021 |


USDA Releases July WASDE Report The latest World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report from the Department of Agriculture Monday predicts lower corn and soybean prices for the growing year. The corn outlook calls for larger supplies, greater feed and residual use, increased exports, and higher ending stocks. Corn production is forecast 175 million bushels higher based on greater planted and harvested area from the June 30 Acreage report. With supply rising more than use, ending stocks are up 75 million bushels. The season-average farm price declined ten cents to $5.60 per bushel. Soybean production is projected at 4.4 billion bushels, unchanged from last month. Harvested area, pegged at 86.7 million acres in the June 30 Acreage report, is unchanged from last month but up 4.4 million from last year. The season-average soybean price is $11.05 per bushel, down 20 cents from last month. The outlook for wheat this month predicts reduced supplies, lower domestic use and exports, and decreased ending stocks. The projected season-average farm price increased ten cents per bushel to $6.60. *********************************************************************************** Cattle Groups Welcome USDA Processing Capacity Investment The Biden administration’s executive order focusing on increasing competition, including in beef markets, gained praise from U.S. cattle groups. The order includes a review of the Product of the USA label, creating increased market opportunities and considering new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act. The Department of Agriculture Also announced $500 million to increase meat processing capacity. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association applauded the announcements. NCBA Government Affairs President Ethan Lane says, “NCBA’s top priority in Washington is pushing for policies that strengthen the business climate for our producers.” Lane adds the order is a “vital next step toward securing a steady beef supply chain, and increasing opportunities for profitability for our producers.” U.S. Cattlemen’s Association President Brooke Miller stated, “USCA applauds President Biden for hearing the calls from cattle country regarding increased consolidation in the U.S. cattle industry.” R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard says, “It is clear the Secretary intends to open the bottleneck created in the cattle industry.” *********************************************************************************** Meat Institute Opposes Government Intervention in Meat Markets The North American Meat Institute opposed recent action to make changes to the Packers and Stockyards Act. In a statement, the organization says, President Biden's executive order calling for the Department of Agriculture to change the Packers and Stockyards rules will have unintended consequences for consumers and producers. Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts states, “Government intervention in the market will increase the cost of food for consumers at a time when many are still suffering from the economic consequences of the pandemic.” Potts says the proposed changes will “open the floodgates” for litigation and limit livestock producers’ ability to market their livestock as they choose. On Friday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to increase competition in the U.S. economy, including in the beef sector. The executive order also asks USDA to review the Product of USA labeling requirements. Additionally, USDA announced a $500 million investment to increase processing capacity of meatpacking facilities across the nation. *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces Dates for Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands Signups Farmers can apply for the Conservation Reserve Program Grasslands signup until August 20. This year, the Department of Agriculture updated signup options to provide greater incentives for producers and increase the program's conservation and climate benefits, including setting a minimum rental rate and identifying two national priority zones. The CRP Grassland signup is competitive, and USDA's Farm Service Agency will provide annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes. FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-shu-know) says, "Bottom line, CRP now makes more financial sense for producers while also providing a bigger return on investment in terms of natural resource benefits." CRP Grasslands helps landowners protect grassland, including rangeland, and pastureland, while maintaining the areas as working grazing lands. Protecting grasslands contributes positively to the economy of many regions, provides biodiversity of plant and animal populations, and provides important carbon sequestration benefits. Producers and landowners should contact USDA by the August 20 deadline to enroll in the CRP Grasslands signup. *********************************************************************************** USDA: Rye and Winter Wheat Most Common Cover Crops The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service says farmers utilizing cover crops most commonly choose rye grass or winter wheat. Researchers reported which cover crops were grown the fall before planting corn, cotton, and soybeans. For corn fields intended for use as grain or silage in data from 2016, more than 90 percent of acres with cover crops used a grass or small grain cover crop, such as rye, winter wheat, or oats. At 63 percent of acreage, rye was more than twice as common as winter wheat, at 26 percent, as the cover crop on corn for grain fields. Rye and winter wheat were also the most common cover crops on soybean fields in 2018. Winter wheat was the most common cover crop used on cotton fields in 2015. This likely reflects the role of wheat stubble in protecting cotton seedlings from wind and the potentially negative impact of certain chemicals produced by cereal rye on growing cotton plants. *********************************************************************************** Fuel Prices Could Soon Stabilize The nation’s average gas price continues its climb, up 0.5 cents per gallon from a week ago to $3.13 per gallon. The national average now stands five cents higher than a month ago and 93.7 cents higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel increased 1.1 cents in the last week and stands at $3.25 per gallon. However, GasBuddy experts say gas prices should stabilize in the weeks to come. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, “with U.S. gasoline demand falling slightly last week, we may have already seen peak consumption over the July 4 holiday.” Crude oil prices may test the $80 benchmark, but are trading around $73 to $75 to start the week. U.S. oil inventories plummeted by nearly seven million barrels, while gasoline also saw a large drop of 6.1 million barrels. De Haan adds, “we’re potentially only 4-6 weeks away from gas prices beginning a seasonal decline that we’re likely all eagerly awaiting.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 13, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Rural Internet, the Modern REA The House Agriculture Committee this week will markup the Broadband Internet Connections for Rural America Act (HR 4374), a measure to bring Internet to rural areas of the country. “Rural broadband is critical for the growth and development of our rural communities, and it is essential that we act to finally close the digital divide that has kept so many of our rural communities from reaching their full potential, which is why the House Agriculture Committee is leading the charge on this effort,” said Chairman David Scott, D-Ga. “This bill will direct $50 billion toward critically needed infrastructure for rural broadband and also includes resources to ensure that this funding is used in a timely manner and accessible to rural communities with limited resources.” Indeed, rural Internet systems clearly were tested during the pandemic with students taking their classes from home and many working from their homes remotely, using Internet connections to make that happen. But many also found out the limitations of broadband Internet access in rural America. While the effort is likely to easily clear the House Agriculture Committee and potentially the full House, it would appear the hasty effort to get the measure pushed through – the markup was only announced Monday afternoon for the Wednesday session – may be one that has lawmakers eyeing the bipartisan infrastructure package as a potential vehicle to put the measure in motion. What some are opening suggesting is that a Rural Electrification Administration (REA) effort is what needs to take place. And the concept of the REA was sparked by the rise in electricity in urban areas. It was estimated that in 1935 when the REA was formed, 90% of farms still relied on kerosene lanterns and candles for light and they relied on wood burning stoves to heat their homes. And they did not have electric power to provide them running water. While there were several systems that would use wind power to collect and store electricity in large glass-enclosed batteries in what many called “Delco Systems,” those were the exception rather than the norm and were found on the farms of those that were more well to do. In the late 1920s and before he left office in 1933, President Herbert Hoover agreed that the electrification of rural America was important, but he wanted to leave it to the private sector to make it happen. Then came the Great Depression, and many of the private efforts folded up as the economy crashed. Enter the REA which was created in 1935. The cost of delivering electricity into rural areas was still not cheap when the REA was launched, estimated in 1935 to be around $2,000 per mile. By the time we reached 1939, the cost had gone down to around $600 per mile. Put in today's dollars, the cost dropped from $38,740 per mile down to $11,622 per mile. And the concept of the REA was developed by Morris Llewellyn Cooke, a mechanical engineer who had come up with the plan to distribute power in New York and Pennsylvania. When REA was launched, President Franklin Roosevelt tapped Cooke as the first administrator. By 1937, some 1.5 million farms were electrified through 350 rural cooperatives in 45 of 48 states. Almost half of all farms had electricity by 1942 with nearly all farms electrified by 1950. However, there were still a handful of those who didn't trust power coming through a wire into their house and they did not opt to have it installed. Those farms were few and far between, but they were still a factor in the situation. Congress started the effort with $410 million, the equivalent of $7.9 billion in today's dollars. The REA was essentially a government financing project that was subsidizing loans to private companies, public agencies or cooperatives for the construction of the electrical supply infrastructure. The repayment terms were over 25 years and eventually the interest rate was fixed at 2% after 1944. Money lent by the REA was also largely repaid, with a default rate of less than 1%. Telephone service was added to their effort. The REA and its successor the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), has organized nearly $57 billion in federal guaranteed low-interest loans for the development of electric and telephone cooperatives. And now the focus is shifting to the Internet. Indeed, agriculture has already seen what a government-subsidized system can do in terms of providing what is an essential service to rural America. It is no coincidence that RUS is again being eyed for the effort to help bring rural America up to par with urban areas of the country. So we will see. The pandemic revealed what many already knew, few have been willing to push broadband Internet into rural areas and efforts like those under consideration could hold great potential provided that the end result does not produce a system that truly does bring that service into areas that need it, and so the situation needs to be watched closely as it comes closer to becoming reality, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 13, 2021 |


FY 2022 Spending Plans Up For Action In House House Appropriations subcommittees have several markup sessions set for this week on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 spending plans under their jurisdictions, seeking to complete the effort and set the stage for full House consideration of the plans ideally before the August congressional recess. Subcommittee markups tend to lack much controversial activity and even the full committee action seen thus far has not resulted in any major tweaks to the FY 2022 spending plans. However, the Senate has not yet acted on their versions and has only held hearings thus far on a few areas. That ups the odds that a temporary spending resolution will be needed to keep the government funded when FY 2022 starts October 1.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 13, 2021 |


US, Mexico Agree On Labor Dispute Resolution One of the actions that emerged from sessions last week between the U.S., Mexico and Canada after marking the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) was that the U.S. and Mexico agreed to allow a vote by workers at a GM plant in Mexico on forming a union. The complaint was brought under new provisions in the USMCA. There was no resolution to other labor-related issues as of yet and key agriculture trade matters were also left unresolved between the U.S. and Canada over dairy and the U.S. and Mexico over GMO crops and glyphosate.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 13, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Traders will likely still be influenced by Monday's new WASDE estimates and also have new crop condition ratings to consider early Tuesday. The U.S. Labor Department's consumer price index for June is set to be released at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by the U.S. Treasury's report on the federal budget for June at 1 p.m. CDT. Traders will keep a close watch on the latest forecasts and any news of an export sale. Weather Scattered showers will develop east of the Mississippi River Tuesday, with isolated showers west to the Rockies. More significant showers are expected to develop Tuesday night across the Northern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 12, 2021 |


Biden Signs Economic Competition Executive Order President Joe Biden signed an executive order Friday directing the Department of Agriculture to engage in rulemaking on several issues. The executive order, focused on promoting competition in the U.S. economy, includes provisions on livestock markets and right to repair. The order directs USDA to consider new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act, to allow producers to bring and win claims under the Act more easily. President Biden also directed USDA to consider new rules defining the Product of USA label. Further, the order calls on USDA to develop a plan to increase market opportunities for farmers and ranchers. Finally, the order encouraged the Federal Trade Commission to limit equipment manufacturers from restricting access to farmers wishing to repair their own machinery, known as right to repair. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says the action comes ”at a time when many in the farm supply chain are frustrated.” Duvall adds that more opportunities for farmers and ranchers to sell their products will ensure they are paid fairly while providing more options for America’s families. *********************************************************************************** Shipping Costs Adding to Food Inflation The rally in crop prices over the last 12 months, combined with increased shipping costs, is fueling inflation of food prices. Costs of shipping bulk grains from production regions in the U.S. to global users have roughly doubled from last year, according to Reuters. Shippers cite rising fuel costs, tighter supplies of shipping vessels and longer port turnaround times. An economist at the National Australia Bank tells Reuters, “For years, buyers enjoyed low grain and freight prices. I see no immediate end to high freight costs.” Moving grain from Australia to Asia now cost $30 per metric ton, compared to $15 last year. Shipping from the U.S. Pacific Northwest to Asia now costs $55 per metric ton, compared to $25 last year. Global food prices fell in June, the first decline in a year, according to data from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. However, prices reached ten-years highs before the decline posted last month. *********************************************************************************** GOA: Broadband Benchmark Speeds May be too Slow A new report from the Government Accountability Office encourages the Federal Communications Commission to evaluate benchmark broadband speeds. The report states, “We recommended that the FCC determine whether its current definition of broadband really meets the needs of small businesses.” Currently, the benchmark speeds for broadband are 25 megabits per second download, and three megabits per second upload. However, recent surveys suggest small businesses may need a download speed of 50 megabits per second. The GAO referenced a 2019 USDA report on rural broadband and agriculture that shows as technology advances, volumes of data needed to manage agriculture production grow. The USDA report says speeds in excess of 25/3 megabits per second with more equal download and upload speeds will likely be necessary. Further, GAO says small businesses will likely benefit from federal funding provided by the FCC and USDA to expand broadband deployment. Roughly eight percent of small businesses in the U.S. currently lack access to broadband. *********************************************************************************** New USDA Grading Dashboard Expands Access to Data The Department of Agriculture Friday announced a new Grading Dashboard, capturing current and historical quality grade and volume information for beef, lamb and veal. The Dashboard includes data published through the weekly USDA National Steer and Heifer Estimated Grading Percent Report and expands the information to include veal and lamb grades and volumes. Mae Wu (May-wooh), USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Marketing and Regulatory Programs, states, “This new dashboard offers farmers, ranchers and others in the supply chain the latest grading performance information in an easy to use format.” USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service applies quality grades to a variety of agricultural commodities for companies on a fee for service basis. The interactive tool provides another level of service to the beef, lamb and veal industries that rely on these data to make informed business, marketing and production decisions. Producers can find the new grading dashboard on the USDA AMS website, ams.usda.gov. *********************************************************************************** Senate Ag Committee Plans Moffitt Nomination Hearing The Senate Agriculture Consider will consider the nomination of Jennifer Moffitt to a Department of Agriculture post Thursday. President Joe Biden nominated Moffit as undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA. Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow and Ranking Member John Boozman announced the hearing, set for Thursday morning. President Biden nominated Moffitt for the position in April. She currently serves as Undersecretary at the California Department of Food and Agriculture and previously served as Deputy Secretary for the agency. At the time of her nomination, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated Moffitt will “join a mission area that is focused on facilitating the domestic and international marketing of U.S. agricultural products.” Before her time with CDFA, Moffitt spent ten years as Managing Director at Dixon Ridge Farms, her family’s organic walnut farm and processing operation in California. Vilsack added that Moffitt “will be a welcomed addition to a growing USDA team.” *********************************************************************************** FFA Seeks Convention Newsroom Internship Applications The National FFA Organization announced Friday internships are available for the FFA Newsroom Crew during the 94th National FFA Convention and Expo this fall. The organization seeks college students or recent college graduates pursuing degrees in journalism, agricultural communications, public relations, telecommunications, or a closely related field. FFA Newsroom Crew interns are expected to arrive in Indianapolis Monday, October 25, and work through Saturday, October 30. Newsroom interns receive a small stipend, access to the event, coaching on how to become a better communicator, and experiences to help them in the future. The FFA Newsroom Crew internship may be eligible for college credit, and applicants are asked to talk with their school’s advisor for additional credit information. The National FFA Convention and Expo takes place October 27-30 this fall. The internship application deadline is August 2, 2021. Interested students can learn more and apply online by visiting the link below.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 12, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Biden Administration and Meat Industry A sweeping executive order signed by President Joe Biden on Friday would direct several government agencies to take actions in areas of competition, with agriculture portions focused on issues like rules that would help chicken farmers and ranchers sue meat and poultry companies, would address the right to repair issue and would also direct USDA to assess the “Product of USA” labeling system. While agriculture is only covered in a portion of the executive order, the order stated that when it comes to market concentration, farmers “get less when they sell their produce and meat -- even as prices rise at the grocery store.” If some of the topics sound familiar that the executive order called to be addressed, it is because some of them are akin to those the Obama administration had proposed but were withdrawn by the Trump administration. And USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is no stranger to the topics as they were ones that he attempted to address when he held the top spot at USDA in the Obama administration. Bloomberg noted that while it didn't appear the Obama administration was able to make the case that antitrust actions would boost economic activity. But Christopher Leonard, who wrote about the efforts to reform the industry in his book The Meat Racket, said things are not the same. “This time seems to be different,” Leonard told Bloomberg in a message. “There is a groundswell of support for antitrust reforms on both the left and right in Congress. If a program like this could ever get implemented, it seems like now is the best time in the past 20 years.” The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the nation's largest farm organization, indicated they would examine the details of the order, and President Zippy Duvall said they would work with the Biden administration “to ensure changes are consistent with our grassroots policy, and farmers and ranchers are provided greater flexibility to remain competitive in our growing economy.” Several other groups welcomed the action, with a handful indicating that it was not enough. But that seems to be the case with almost any government regulatory action. But the North American Meat Institute said they were opposed to the potential changes. “Government intervention in the market will increase the cost of food for consumers at a time when many are still suffering from the economic consequences of the pandemic,” said Julie Anna Potts, president and CEO of the Meat Institute. But perhaps one of the more grass-roots issues that Vilsack announced on Friday was that USDA was going to put $500 million in grants and loans together to help increase meat processing capacity in the U.S. “We have got to expand the amount of processing capacity in this country,” Vilsack said during a news conference in Iowa on Friday. “We can no longer rely on a handful of processing companies to do the job, to make the market competitive, to do right by farmers” and “to ensure as well that we have a resilient food supply system.” But the funding will not arrive immediately. USDA first will issue a request for information and use that to form the basis of a proposed rule for the meat plant expansion effort and then it will have to go through a final rulemaking, so it will take into Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 before those funds will be available. And there would be more than $150 million that would be earmarked to small and very small meat processors, the kind that dot farm country and process animals for customers. The latter part of the effort is aimed at helping those plants weather the pandemic and expand. So we will see. The grant effort to expand capacity holds promise, and in particular to help those small facilities expand as well as they have been inundated with animals to process. Key for the bigger grant/loan effort is how complex USDA makes the effort and that is something that will need to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 12, 2021 |


Transportation Issues in Focus With Biden Executive Order Several areas were addressed in a sweeping executive order signed by President Joe Biden July 9, including several that dealt with transportation issues. One element of the order would ask the Justice Department to work with regulatory agencies against foreign-owned shipping alliances and monopolized rail routes that the administration believes have driven up shipping costs nationwide. “It doesn't sound right to most people that there are three shipping companies that are dominating the market and upping and increasing costs for suppliers, small businesses, people across the country,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “And on domestic freight railroad, the executive order urges the Surface Transportation Board to allow shippers to more easily challenge inflated rates when there is no competition between routes.” The American Association of Railroads says the coming competitive switching rule “would roll back the foundational market-driven principle that keeps the industry viable, reduce network fluidity, and ultimately undermine railroads' ability to serve customers at a time when freight demands have dramatically increased.” Plus, the Federal Maritime Commission will be ordered to deal with the fees and surcharges of ocean carriers. It will be important to read this executive order carefully as impacted sectors and businesses will be doing the same. The expectation is that some of the actions called for in the order will most likely be challenged in court.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 12, 2021 |


Biden White House Continues To Tout Rural Infrastructure Benefits The White House on Thursday (July 8) released a fact sheet touting provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure framework that create “economic opportunities for rural America.” The release highlights provisions to bring high speed internet to every home, ensure clean drinking water, fixing rural roads and bridges, building drought, fire and flood resilience, plugging orphan wells, cleaning up abandon mines and remediation of idle rural properties, connect rural communities through rail, build and upgrade airports, ports and waterways in rural America, and build electric transmission infrastructure. However, the bipartisan package is still a framework and not yet in legislative language and that is where important details of what the administration and lawmakers have in mind for specific actions will be key

| Rural Advocate News | Monday July 12, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will likely start the week checking rainfall amounts from over the weekend and the latest weather forecasts. At 10 a.m. CDT, USDA will release its weekly grain inspections report, followed by the July WASDE and Crop Production reports at 11 a.m. CDT. At 3 p.m., USDA will conclude with its Crop Progress report where most of the attention will be on crop conditions and winter wheat harvest progress. Weather Scattered showers will continue from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast Monday as an upper level system slowly weakens and moves northeast through the Midwest. Drier areas to the northwest will continue to see stress to developing and reproductive row crops.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 9, 2021 |


Global Food Prices Declined in June Global food prices fell in June for the first time in 12 months, according to the United Nation’s Food Price Index. Released Thursday, the June index averaged 124.6 points, down 3.2 points, or 2.5 percent, from May. However, the index is 33.9 percent higher than this time last year. The drop in June reflected declines in the prices of vegetable oils, cereals and, to a lesser degree, dairy prices, which more than offset generally higher meat and sugar quotations. The Cereal Price Index averaged 129.4 points in June, down 3.5 points, or 2.6 percent, from May. After reaching their highest level in May since January 2013, international corn prices dropped five percent in June, still 72 percent higher than 2020. The Vegetable Oil Index fell 9.9 percent, and dairy prices were down one percent. However, meat prices were up 2.1 percent from May, continuing the ninth consecutive month of increases, up 25 percent from June of last year. *********************************************************************************** School Nutrition Survey: Challenges Persists into New School Year A new survey of 1,300 school meal program directors reveals serious financial and operational challenges for the upcoming school year. The School Nutrition Association’s Back to School 2021 Survey also revealed grave concerns regarding the impact of future sodium regulations. SNA President Reggie Ross says, “School meal programs, which are critical to the health and success of millions of America’s students, face an uncertain future following the pandemic.” The survey found 97 percent of meal program directors are concerned about continued pandemic supply chain disruptions, and 90 percent worry about staff shortages. Meanwhile, 82 percent are concerned about low meal participation, and 86 percent revealed financial concerns. A majority of school nutrition directors also expressed concerns about future sodium regulations. Schools significantly reduced the sodium in school meals to meet Target 1 limits and are working toward Target 2 limits. However, only 11 percent anticipate meeting the Final Target, scheduled to take effect in July 2022. *********************************************************************************** Drought Monitor Reports Another Week of Hot, Dry Weather The latest U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday shows 58 percent of the nation experiencing drought, with 38 percent in a severe or worse drought classification. Hot and dry weather continued across the West in the last week, expanding drought conditions. The excess heat increased evaporative demand, drying out soils and vegetation, and straining water resources. As commodity markets swing wildly based on weather, the Midwest and much of the Corn Belt will see more rain in the week ahead. Rainfall maps show relief coming for Iowa, North and South Dakota and Nebraska. A daily newsletter from Bower Trading suggests permanent losses have already occurred in some of the drier areas in the northwest and a full restoration of yield potential is not possible, but the better weather conditions expected during the next week should allow for a boost in yields in many areas. Rainfall is also expected in many areas of the Corn Belt not in drought conditions. *********************************************************************************** USACE Implements Drought Conservation Measures for Missouri River Water conservation measures were enacted for the second half of the Missouri River navigation flow support season. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Thursday said very dry conditions continue to impact the upper Missouri River basin above Sioux City, Iowa, despite recent heavy rainfall in the lower basin, with more rainfall in the forecast south of Sioux City. As a result of the low precipitation and widespread drought conditions in the upper basin, June runoff in the upper basin was 52 percent of average. The updated 2021 upper basin runoff forecast is 15.6 million acre-feet, 60 percent of average, the tenth driest year in the upper basin since 1898. USACE reduced the service level to support navigation by 1,500 cubic feet per second at Gavins Point dam. USACE Missouri River Chief John Remus says the reduction “is a necessary water conservation measure to ensure authorized purposes will be served in the short and long term.” *********************************************************************************** Lawmakers Seek Reimbursement for Dairy Farmers A group of lawmakers calls on the Biden administration to reimburse dairy producers for losses stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and market-related losses. In a letter to President Joe Biden, the 24 lawmakers say, “We strongly urge you to ensure our producers are reimbursed for as much of the roughly $725 million in foregone Class I skim milk revenue as possible.” The lawmakers, led by New York Democrat, Representative Antonio Delgado, cite economic forces, market disruptions, and the COVID-19 pandemic, which created Class I mover-related losses. Representative Delgado states, “Our dairy farmers, especially small and mid-sized producers in the Northeast region, have been seriously impacted by these losses throughout the pandemic.” Jim Mulhern, National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO, says, “We commend Congressman Antonio Delgado for leading a coalition of his colleagues to ensure dairy producers in New York and across the country are reimbursed for as much of these losses as possible.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Announces $307 Million for Rural Water Projects The Department of Agriculture this week announced $307 million for rural water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. The funding goes to projects in 34 states and Puerto Rico to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. USDA is financing the projects through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. The program provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and stormwater drainage. The investments will help eliminate outdated pipes and service lines to safeguard public health and safety in rural communities. They will improve rural infrastructure for 250,000 residents and businesses. The funding follows President Biden’s announcement last week of a Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework that will make the largest investment in clean drinking water in American history. The Framework will replace all of the nation’s lead pipes and service lines, helping address barriers faced by communities of color, Tribal communities, and people who live in rural America.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 9, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Indoor Agriculture Seeing More Investment Urban agriculture has been rising in popularity even if it still makes up only a tiny part of the overall ag production picture. But the Wells Fargo Innovation Incubator is putting money toward five agricultural-technology startups that aim to develop process to make indoor farming more sustainable. Under the effort, the five startups would receive up to $225,000 each for their processes. Bloomberg reports one of the startups will include a genomics company and lighting-efficiency developer. They are seeking to work with the Department of Energy (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, Wells Fargo said. The bank innovation center noted that the combination of land degradation and water shortages are potentially threatening the ability of agriculture to meet global food demand based on the expectation that demand will rise 60% within the next 30 years. While not currently a viable alternative, Wells Fargo said that indoor farming "could be a reliable food source and can be tailored to demographics and tastes, but typically produces more greenhouse-gas emissions than field-grown crops." That greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions issue is a major focus right now for the Biden administration as they are targeting those emissions in their efforts to address climate change. That would be a key situation if there is to be any future for a growth in indoor farming. Indoor farming "has not met the bars of being environmentally sustainable at the moment," Claire Kinlaw, director of innovation commercialization at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, told Bloomberg in an interview. "We have to get past that." Two efforts would also seek to make lighting more efficient relative to indoor farming. SunPath and GroFlux are seeking to address those issues to meet challenges where things like tomatoes grow and create a canopy that can block the light. Bloomberg noted that SunPath aims to use fiber optics and tracking technology to get light to reach all the way to the ground. GrowFlux, on the other hand, would use existing LED lighting in a way that allows farmers to control light delivery to plants. They believe this would bring about an average energy savings of 20% to 30% for indoor farming efforts. Atlas Sensor Technologies focuses on water issues and would be looking at monitoring water hardness in rea-time with its ion exchange fiber-based technology. The goal is to reduce the cost and waste while improving how water softeners operate. Motorleaf would put attention on using artificial intelligence for indoor agriculture to provide greenhouse operators and those in the supply chain ways to optimize yields and lower their carbon foot print. New West Genetics is expecting to focus on proprietary, stable, high-yielding breed varieties for sustainable hemp production, delivering a highly productive crop that can support food, feed, biomass and specialty products for an expanding population. The effort now includes some 56 startups. Indeed these efforts could perhaps bring some shifts in the agricultural production situation and make it easier for urban agriculture to gain a foothold in heavily populated areas. And the challenges of energy use also loom large as the current indoor growing efforts require a fair amount of energy to replace what the sun provides. If these startups can provide success and bring some real-time results that can be demonstrated and most importantly replicated in an economically viable fashion, that could get the attention of policymakers. That could allow such efforts to start ups to nudge into the world of farm policy. After all, urban agriculture and specialty agriculture have their backers in Congress that would no doubt welcome these efforts if they can prove successful. So we will see. Their efforts will hinge on one key factor and that is getting their effort to become commercially viable and that will be a key issue to monitor as these efforts move forward if they are to become any kind of alternative for certain kinds of food production, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 9, 2021 |


USTR Tai Discussed Aligning Ethanol Policies With Mexico Discussions between U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai and top Mexican trade and agricultural officials included biofuels policies between the two countries. In a recap of the session issued by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the officials discussed several ag-trade issues, but "they also discussed the potential mutual benefits of aligning Mexico and the United States' policy on ethanol gasoline blends." There was little detail offered in terms of what specifically "aligning" the two countries' policies would mean. But U.S. biofuel interests would no doubt welcome actions that would boost their ability to sell biofuels into a market that is geographically easy to reach.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 9, 2021 |


USTR Tai Raises GMO Approvals with Mexican Officials U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with Mexican Agriculture and Rural Development Secretary Victor Villalobos and Economy Secretary Tatiana Clouthier on Wednesday in Mexico City, raising several ag-trade-related issues. Tai "emphasized the importance of Mexico immediately resuming the authorization of biotechnology products," according to a brief readout of the session. However, it is not clear that Tai raised a key issue on GMOs -- the proposed ban on imports of GMO corn by the end of 2024. That issue remains clouded in uncertainty. Reuters reports that Villalobos has been pushing for feed corn to be exempted from the ban, a key situation given that Mexico imports around 16 million metric tons of corn (630 million bushels) from the U.S. to feed its livestock sector. Villalobos has assured USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that there would be an exemption for U.S. corn used for feed, but the news service reported that his push within the Mexican government may be losing traction. Reuters quoted sources saying that Villalobos' deputy at the ag ministry, Victor Suarez, is pushing against the GMO corn imports across the board. An issue that Tai did raise relative to Mexico failing to approve new GMO corn varieties, also threatens to impact U.S. corn exports. But even the issue of GMO crop approvals could become a trade issue as there could be blockages of imports of corn into Mexico if they are from GMO varieties that the country has yet to approve. That is a situation U.S. corn farmers have faced in other markets before.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 9, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT and expectations are low for new U.S. export sales. To end the week that began with a celebration of Independence Day, there are no other significant reports on Friday's docket. Traders have plenty to watch in terms of weather and will anticipate USDA's next WASDE report, due out Monday at 11 a.m. CDT. Weather Elsa will continue to move northeast with a threat for strong winds and heavy rain along the Northeast Coast Friday. A deepening upper-level low will spread over a frontal boundary later today and tonight with strong to severe thunderstorms expected from Nebraska through the Mid-Mississippi Valley. Strong winds, large hail and tornadoes will all be possible with this activity. Pockets of heavy rain can also be anticipated. There will likely be some additional showers farther north to help some corn and soybean fields in the Dakotas and Minnesota with more widely scattered showers near the Gulf Coast.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 8, 2021 |


Vilsack Traveling to Nebraska Friday Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack travels to Omaha, Nebraska Friday to make a major announcement, according to the Department of Agriculture. Few details are available, but the White House this week announced President Joe Biden is preparing to address agriculture issues in an executive order. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki earlier this week told reports the Department of Agriculture will engage in a series of rulemakings to increase competition in agriculture to boost farmers’ and ranchers’ earnings. The executive order, according to Psaki, will direct USDA to issue new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act, and new rules defining when meat can bear Product of the USA labels, so consumers have accurate, transparent labels. Additionally, the executive order directs USDA to develop a plan to increase opportunities for farmers to access markets. The executive order will also give farmers the right to repair their equipment, according to the White House. *********************************************************************************** USTR Meets with USMCA Trade Representatives U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai spoke with officials from Mexico and Canada this week on trade issues. Trade representatives from the U.S., Mexico and Canada are meeting this week to discuss the first year of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement that replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement. A statement from the USTR office says Tai spoke with her Canadian counterpart about softwood lumber, dairy, and WTO reform. Tai also urged Canada to abandon its proposed unilateral digital service tax. Tai also met with Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of Economy. This discussion focused on agriculture, including the stalled authorization of biotechnology products by Mexico, which Mexico recently stated the country would outlaw Genetically Modified corn for human consumption. Tai also discussed expanding access for U.S. fresh potatoes and the potential mutual benefits of aligning Mexico and the United States' policy on ethanol-gasoline blends. Finally, the USTR office says the discussion included implementation of USMCA’s environment chapter. *********************************************************************************** Broad-Based Growth Drives U.S. Beef and Pork Exports to New Heights U.S. beef and pork export value shattered previous records in May, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Announced this week, beef exports also reached a new volume high in May, while pork export volume was the third-largest on record. USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom states, "The outstanding May performance is especially gratifying when you consider where red meat exports stood a year ago." May beef export volume soared to a record 133,400 metric tons, up 68 percent from a year ago, and value increased 88 percent. May pork exports totaled 283,600 metric tons, up 16 percent from a year ago and the third-largest on record. Export value exceeded $800 million for the first time in May, climbing 31 percent to $813.2 million. However, Halstrom cautioned that U.S. labor availability remains a major concern and limitation for the industry, and exporters continue to face significant obstacles when shipping product overseas. *********************************************************************************** NIFA Invests $14 Million in Animal Health and Disease Research The Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Wednesday announced an investment of $14 million in research to protect agricultural animals from disease. The grants are part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Diseases of Agricultural Animals program area priority. NIFA director Carrie Castille says, “This research will help better understand, diagnose, control and prevent diseases in agricultural animals and aquaculture.” Funded projects will focus on developing new and improved vaccines, diagnostics and antimicrobial alternatives, along with breeding disease-resistant animals, and understanding better ways to manage animals to minimize disease outbreaks. NIFA recently awarded 31 projects under the program, including $500,000 to an Iowa State University effort to introduce a new approach to Vitamin A and Zinc supplements to help protect cattle against stress and respiratory disease. NIFA also awarded $500,000 to a University of Florida project to examine ways to improve immunity in pigs that can protect them from lung disease and influenza virus infections. ************************************************************************************ Zoetis Donating COVID-19 Vaccines to Support Zoo Animals Zoetis is donating more than 11,000 doses of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine to help protect the health and well-being of more than 100 species living in zoos, conservatories and sanctuaries. The vaccine is authorized for experimental use on a case-by-case basis by the Department of Agriculture and appropriate state veterinarians. The vaccine deployment to dozens of zoos follows Zoetis' response in January to a request from the San Diego Zoo following confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the gorillas at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Alex Herman, of Oakland Zoo in California says, “We're happy and relieved to now be able to better protect our animals with this vaccine.” Zoetis' COVID-19 vaccine is uniquely formulated for animal species. Although the virus is the same as in human vaccines, vaccines for animals vary based on the carrier that is used. The unique combination of antigen and carrier ensures safety and efficacy for the species in which a vaccine is used. ************************************************************************************ Farmers National Company Former CEO Joins Peoples Company Land brokerage and management firm Peoples Company, announced the hiring of Dave Englund as national accounts director Wednesday. Englund is the former President and CEO of Farmers National Company, retiring in April of this year after 34 years with the company. As President and CEO, Englund oversaw the management of over $9 billion in assets, including over two million farm and ranch acres across 26 states. Englund states, "In the months since retiring from Farmers National Company, I came to realize I still have a strong passion for the business and a desire to continue serving farmers and landowners." As the director of national accounts, Englund will use his experience and relationships across the country to develop and implement client growth opportunities, elevate Peoples Company's current performance and strategy, and build and maintain long-term relationships with business prospects, partners, and affiliates. Peoples Company says the addition of Englund “adds tremendous value for our clients.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 8, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Biden Trade Shift Ends TAA The shift in trade policy by the Biden administration was one with several influences, including their focus on the U.S. economy and the pandemic and trying to bring what they viewed as stability after a tumultuous four years under the Trump administration. That shift in trade policy had President Joe Biden signaling that inking new trade deals was down on their list of priorities. One impact of that was the July 1 expiration of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which helps an administration in trade negotiations with other countries and trading blocs. Several administrations have used TPA to reach trade agreements, including the Trump administration which utilized it to put the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) in place. That allows an administration to negotiate a trade deal and bring it back to Congress for an up or down vote with no amendments possible. But another casualty of this shift on trade policy is the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. While not directly linked to TPA, it also ended July 1. TAA provides aid for Americans who lose their jobs or whose hours and wages are cut due to competition from imports. While the Senate approved a 23-day extension of TAA, the House failed to act, shuttering the trade assistance effort. While TAA has not totally stopped, there are no new applications from workers that can be approved. Payments to those already receiving the help will continue. An estimated 48,000 workers, primarily in service industries, will lose eligibility for benefits over the next year, according to the Department of Labor, Bloomberg reported. Manufacturing workers can still receive support, but case-management services that help them access job training and find reemployment will no longer receive federal funds. The services sector was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and the Labor Department said that workers in the hospitability, utilities and warehousing sectors accounted for more than half of the TAA petitions that the agency received. On the Hill, there is plenty of finger pointing as to who is to blame for the situation. House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and trade subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., blamed Republicans for the situation. "While our country continues to deal with the reverberating effects of the pandemic, this reversion will also disproportionately harm women and minority workers, and will prevent workers affected by trade from China from accessing the program," they said. "House Democrats are looking for the earliest opportunity to put the program back on track, and will also seek to increase and modernize TAA's benefits." But House Ways & Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, declared that a three-week extension of the program "makes no sense. Trade Adjustment Assistance should be paired with Trade Promotion Authority." And that is about the main linkage there has been between the two programs. The last time TPA was renewed in 2015, the renewal of TAA was paired with it to bring Democratic votes. It is seen as a way to get both Democrats and Republicans, as Republicans typically like to see TPA renewed and will back TAA as it helps bring Democratic votes for TPA. Perhaps even more surprising is that the TAA expiration came even as the Biden administration and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai have touted their "worker-centric" trade policy. Some observers think that rings a little hollow now with the TAA lapse. The Biden White House has defended their inaction, with an official telling Bloomberg that Biden "has strongly endorsed rapid passage" of TAA, adding there are several pathways to make it happen quickly. "We will only pursue new trade deals after we have made investments in American workers and communities," the official told the news service. "Signing new trade deals is not the only metric of a successful trade policy. We are continuously pursuing inclusive, worker-centered trade policies that reinforce the United States' resiliency, recovery, sustainability, and competitiveness." Now if history is any guide, workers could still see TAA benefits restored retroactively as that happened in 2015 -- TAA benefits were restored back to the start of 2014. So we will see. The shift in trade policy by the Biden administration has been more in style than in substance except for their downplaying inking new trade deals. But the potential for TPA and TAA to be restored is something that should be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 8, 2021 |


CFAP 2 Payments Again Nudge Higher Payments approved under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP 2) stood at $13.75 billion as of July 5, up slightly from the prior week. Acreage-based payments total $6.28 billion, with $3.45 billion for livestock, $2.74 billion for sales commodities, $1.22 billion for dairy and $63.77 million for eggs/broilers. Payments under the CFAP 1 program also edged up to $10.59 billion. While USDA has said they will make payments to contract poultry growers, payments that were announced earlier, there is still no word on when the agency plans to issue such payments to contract hog producers. Indications are there are still regulatory issues that have to be addressed for those payments to move forward. And there is also the matter of additional dairy payments that were expected to be announced by USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in Wisconsin recently, but he did not make the trip as the focus of the visit by Vilsack and President Joe Biden was shifted to only be on infrastructure.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 8, 2021 |


'Right to Repair,' Other Ag Regs Coming The White House on Tuesday signaled there is an executive order coming from President Joe Biden that would direct USDA to draw up regs coming on agriculture, including 'right to repair' issue, boost competition. USDA will also be ordered to develop new rules on concentration in the industry. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the action will focus on several fronts to "increase competition in agricultural industries to boost farmers' and ranchers' earnings, fight back against abuses of power by giant agribusiness corporations, and give farmers the right to repair their own equipment how they like." The effort will also direct USDA to develop regulations relative to the Packers and Stockyards Act. Those regulatory actions are not necessarily new as USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has previously said the agency was going to develop new rules covering certain areas of the law. Further, Psaki said that the order will also direct USDA to come up with new rules relative to the "Product of the USA" labeling effort which is voluntary. USDA will also be ordered to come up with plans to "increase opportunities for farmers to access markets and receive a fair return, including supporting alternative food distribution systems," Psaki said, including farmers markets, and "developing standards and labels that consumers can choose to buy products that treat farmers and agricultural workers fairly."

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 8, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets Thursday's reports begin with U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The U.S. Energy Department will report on natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m., followed by other energy inventories, including ethanol at 10:00 a.m. Grain traders will continue to pay close attention to the latest weather forecasts and any news of export sales. USDA's weekly export sales report is scheduled for Friday morning, due to this week's holiday. Weather The center of Tropical Storm Elsa will continue to move from the coastal Southeast through the Mid-Atlantic Thursday with more isolated to scattered showers east of the Rockies. Only some local drought relief is expected across the drier northwest growing areas, which could see some severe weather this afternoon and evening

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 7, 2021 |


AG Economy Barometer Falls Again For the second month in a row, the Ag Economy Barometer declined sharply. Released Tuesday, the most recent survey fell to 137, 21 points below a month earlier, and the weakest sentiment reading since July 2020. Producers in June were less optimistic about both current conditions on their farming operations as well as their expectations for the future. Weakening perceptions of current conditions on their farms was the biggest driver of the barometer’s decline as the Index of Current Conditions declined 29 points to 149, the lowest reading since September 2020. Producers were also less optimistic about the future as the Index of Future Expectations declined 17 points to 132, the lowest Future Expectations Index reading since July 2020. Since peaking in April, producers’ perception of their farms’ financial performance has fallen sharply. Farmers also expect their input costs to rise much more rapidly in the year ahead than they have over the last decade. *********************************************************************************** Barchart Increases U.S. Crop Production Forecast Barchart Tuesday raised their July 2021 Yield and Production forecasts for U.S. corn and soybeans. Released on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season, the forecasts offer users insights to help their crop marketing and business decisions ahead of when traditional government reports are released. U.S. Corn Production is projected at 14.6 billion bushels with a yield of 176.5 bushels an acre, compared to USDA projection of 15 billion bushels and yield of 179.5. For soybeans, Barchart expects production at 4.3 billion bushes with a 50 bushel per acre yield. USDA forecasts 4.4-billion-bushel production of soybeans this year with yield at 50.8 bushels. The market data company also released their initial Yield and Production forecasts for Canadian spring wheat and soybeans. Canadian spring wheat production is forecasted at 881 million bushels, with yield at 55.1 an acre. Barchart’s Canadian soybean production forecast calls for 228.1 million bushels with an average yield of 43 bushels an acre. *********************************************************************************** USDA Changes Cover Crop Grazing Policy Farmers with crop insurance can now hay, graze or chop cover crops for silage, haylage or baleage at any time and still receive 100 percent of the prevented planting payment. The Department of Agriculture announced the change Tuesday. Previously, cover crops could only be hayed, grazed or chopped after November 1, otherwise the prevented planting payment was reduced by 65 percent. USDA Acting RMA Administrator Richard Flournoy states, “We are dedicated to responding to the needs of producers, and this flexibility is good for agriculture and promotes climate smart agricultural practices.” RMA added the flexibility as part of a broader effort to encourage producers to use cover crops, an important conservation and good farming practice. The decision to allow flexibility for the 2021 crop year and to make the change permanent for future years builds on the advanced research and identified benefits cover crops have supporting healthy soils and cropland sustainability efforts. ************************************************************************************ Share of Income Spent on Food Dropped 10% In 2020, A Historic Low The share of U.S. consumers' disposable income spent on food decreased 10.1 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic last year. The share declined to 8.6 percent, the lowest share in the past 60 years, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. The share of disposable income spent on food in the United States was relatively steady over the last 20 years, decreasing from 9.95 percent in 2000 to 9.58 percent in 2019. Consumers spent 1.4 percent more of their incomes for food at home from 2019 to 2020, while they spent 22.2 percent less of their incomes on food at restaurants. Changes in the shares of income spent on food in 2020 resulted, in part, from pandemic-related closures and restrictions at food-away-from-home establishments, as well as from the largest annual disposable income increase in 20 years. The increase was driven by additional Government assistance to individuals in 2020, including stimulus payments to households and increased unemployment insurance benefits. ************************************************************************************ NCGA Women and Mentors Program Holds First-Ever Conference The National Corn Growers Association recently hosted the first-ever in-person meeting of the Women and Mentors program. The 15 attendees learned skills through the retreat to help them make an impact on not only the agricultural industry but also in their other endeavors. Sponsored by Bayer and Syngenta, the retreat allowed attendees to network and be supported by other female industry leaders to inspire and empower them. The conference also helped the attendees, who met virtually for three sessions prior to last week, gain a network of individuals invested in seeing more women in leadership roles within agriculture, and to become a mentor or a mentee at the conclusion of the conference. The group will continue the program with quarterly virtual calls on leadership topics, and plan to continue with an in-person session annually, increasing the size of this network as we encourage up-and-coming female leaders to take the next steps in their leadership journeys. ************************************************************************************ American Royal Begins Strategic Leadership Search The American Royal Association is beginning a strategic planning process that includes a search for a new chief executive officer, following the departure of Glen Alan Phillips later this month. Phillips will take a new role in his home state of Texas as chief operating officer with Rodeo Austin. The move opens an opportunity for the American Royal Association “to build upon momentum and define the next version of the American Royal” at its new home in Kansas City, Kansas. Shortly before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Royal announced it was one step closer to its future home, after acquiring 115 acres. The Association’s vision is to be the national destination for the food and agriculture industry and the “Epicenter of Agriculture.” A Kansas City tradition since 1899, the American Royal provides opportunities for youth and adults from around the world to compete in a variety of agriculture events.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 7, 2021 |


Washington Insider: New Trade Battle Over Taxes With the civil aircraft disputes with the European Union and UK "resolved" via an agreement among the three parties to not take any trade actions for five years, attention with Europe and now Canada is shifting to another trade issue that could become even more difficult to find a resolution. Digital taxes are likely to be a new trade fight front even as the U.S. has signaled they will not be taking actions on trade like their predecessors in the Trump administration. And this is now involving the U.S. Treasury Department and not just the U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Group of 20 (G20) finance ministers are meeting in Vienna this week, and Bloomberg is reporting, "U.S. Treasury Department officials indicated in a call with reporters Tuesday that a potential digital-tax proposal might fall afoul of a deal struck last week that aims to eliminate so-called digital service taxes." The U.S. has signaled they are not in favor or several countries' digital tax plans, arguing they discriminate against U.S. companies. European countries are under pressure from several governments within the EU that global tech companies need to be taxed. While European countries believe the new plan would comply with the international agreement on digital services taxes, the U.S. counters that determination cannot be made until the international agreement is completed and its full text is readied which is hoped for in October. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) worked out the deal with 130 countries and jurisdictions last week which would include setting a minimum rate for corporations. There are also rules under the agreement, Bloomberg noted, that would "share the spoils from multinational firms." And the deal also contained a provision to prevent new laws that attempt to apply taxes to cross-border digital sales. But even though the international agreement would set in place a 15% minimum tax, Bloomberg said the U.S. is trying to boost that level, noting the U.S. has sought a 21% rate for the overseas earnings of U.S. companies. One of the Treasury officials briefing reporters noted that the part of the package that would bring a redistribution of corporate taxes based on where firms do business and not just where they have their headquarters is one that would require a multilateral treaty. Therein lies another potential challenge for the U.S. -- a multilateral treaty requires a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate. Given the 50-50 split between Democrats and Republicans and few, if any, Republicans willing to back a tax increase, odds are low any such treaty would be approved by the chamber. However, Treasury argued that the U.S. proposal on this front regarding tax redistribution did not focus just on digital companies nor did it target U.S. businesses. The G20 finance ministers are also expected to see renewed attention on the recovery from the COVID pandemic and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will press other countries not to remove fiscal support for measures to fight the virus and its economic impact. Meanwhile, USTR Tai met with Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng Tuesday and called on Canada to abandon its proposed unilateral digital-services tax, according to Bloomberg, citing an emailed statement from Tai's office. But their discussion did not stop there and it included softwood lumber and dairy. That comes in the wake of the U.S. opting to pursue a dispute settlement request under the one-year-old U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). And Tai has pledged that the U.S. would get its litigation briefcase back out if countries opted to put any border taxes linked to climate change in place. So we will see. The U.S. is perhaps shifting a bit on the trade front, not willing just to try to get old disagreements resolved as it appears other countries around the world could be trying to use that stance to their advantage and it is a situation that needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 7, 2021 |


Keystone XL Pipeline Developer Seeks $15 Billion From U.S. Canada's TC Energy said it is seeking $15 billion in damages from the United States government over the decision by President Joe Biden early in his administration to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline project. In a statement on Friday, the company said it had filed a notice of intent with the State Department to begin a legacy North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) claim under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement. The company said it aims to "recover economic damages resulting from the revocation of the Keystone XL Project's Presidential Permit," adding that it suffered a loss of more than $15 billion "as a result of the U.S. Government's breach of its NAFTA obligations."

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 7, 2021 |


U.S. Agricultural Exports and Imports Were Nearly Even in May U.S. agricultural exports edged up to $14.66 billion in May after being at $14.54 billion in April, while U.S. agricultural imports were at $14.56 billion compared with $14.35 billion in April. That left a trade surplus of $95.9 million for the month, about half of the $189 million surplus reported in April. So far in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, U.S. agricultural exports have reached $121.61 billion against imports of $105.79 billion for a cumulative surplus of $15.82 billion. The forecast for U.S. agricultural exports in FY 2021 that was updated in May looks for shipments to total $164 billion and imports to be $141.8 billion which would leave a surplus of $22.2 billion. To reach the forecast marks, U.S. agricultural exports would need to be at $10.6 billion the next four months with imports at just $9 billion. Both marks would seem to be low based on trade data thus far in FY 2021 and would mark a major slowdown on imports that does not seem likely given the improving U.S. economy.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday July 7, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets There are no major reports scheduled Wednesday, but minutes from the latest Federal Reserve meeting are due out at 1 p.m. CDT. Traders will be paying attention to the latest weather forecasts and rainfall amounts. Weekly energy inventory reports are set for Thursday at 10 a.m. CDT, due to this week's holiday schedule. Weather Light to moderate rain will cross the Midwest and cover the Gulf Coast Wednesday. A cooler pattern is also in store for the northern and western Midwest. This combination is favorable for pollinating corn and flowering and pod setting soybeans. In the Southeast, Tropical Storm Elsa will produce locally heavy rain. Other crop areas will be dry with no easing of drought in the entire western U.S.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 6, 2021 |


USMCA Trade Officials Meeting in Mexico City This Week Trade representatives from the United States, Mexico and Canada meet this week to commemorate the first anniversary of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Mexico’s Secretary of Economy, U.S. Trade Ambassador Katherine Tai, and Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade will attend the meeting. The officials meet Tuesday in Mexico City to exchange views on the achievements reached during the agreement's first year and discuss opportunities to ensure the long-term growth and competitiveness of the region. The U.S. Trade Representative’s Office says in a statement the meetings are an opportunity to continue the productive dialogue established during the first Free Trade Commission meeting in May. Further, USTR says the meeting shows how the United States, Mexico, and Canada are working together as friends, neighbors, and allies to build a more competitive, inclusive and resilient North American economic partnership. USMCA replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement and went into force on July 1, 2020. *********************************************************************************** Federal Court Reverses EPA Rule on Year-round E15 A federal appeals court late last week reversed a 2019 rule by the Environmental Protection Agency that lifted restrictions on the sale of E15. American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers vs. EPA challenged the rulemaking that allowed the year-round sale of E15. Growth Energy, the Renewable Fuels Association, and the National Corn Growers Association say in a joint statement, “We disagree with the court’s decision to reject EPA’s move to expand the RVP waiver to include E15, a decision that could deprive American drivers of lower carbon options at the pump and would result in more carbon in the atmosphere.” Last August, the groups filed a brief as intervenors in the lawsuit. The brief provided support for EPA’s position that parity in RVP regulations for E10 and E15 is consistent with the provisions of the Clean Air Act and the congressional intent behind those provisions. The groups participated in oral arguments for the case in April of this year. *********************************************************************************** Growth Energy Applauds New Legislation to Clarify Oil Refinery Exemptions Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor last week applauded the introduction of the Small Refinery Exemption Clarification Act of 2021 in the house of Representatives. Randy Feenstra, an Iowa Republican and Angie Craig, a Minnesota Democrat, introduced the legislation. The legislation seeks to clarify who is eligible under the Renewable Fuel Standard SRE program. Skor states, “We firmly believe that refiners have had 16 years to adjust their operations to comply with the RFS, and that EPA’s SRE authority was meant to steer them toward compliance rather than provide a never-ending excuse to avoiding their blending obligations.” Growth Energy also supports the House and Senate versions of the RFS Integrity Act, which would add deadlines for refinery SRE petitions so EPA can properly account for them in future year RVOs. In addition, Growth Energy supported letters led by lawmakers in both chambers who wrote the White House, EPA, and USDA on the market implications of SRE authority abuse. *********************************************************************************** NCBA, NFU Welcome USDA Product of USA Action The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and National Farmers Union support the top to bottom review of the Product of the USA label. The review, announced last week by the Department of Agriculture, follows a vote to strengthen the regulation by the Federal Trade Commission. NCBA President Jerry Bohn says, “NCBA members have voiced concerns about the potentially misleading use of the label and we thank USDA for responding to those concerns.” National Farmers Union has long been concerned about the label, which is legally applied to beef and pork that was born, raised, and slaughtered in another country but processed in the United States. The organization recently urged FTC and USDA to strengthen voluntary U.S. origin claims on labels and penalize those who incorrectly label products. NFU President Rob Larew says, “This isn’t just a problem for consumers – it hurts farmers and ranchers, who can’t differentiate their product or earn a premium for offering a local option.” ************************************************************************************ CAST Report: USDA Can Offer Tools to Stem Climate Change A new report shows agriculture can provide 10-20 percent of the additional sequestration and emissions reductions needed for the nation to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Released last week by the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, the report summarizes the different ways agriculture can provide mitigations to climate change and sequester carbon dioxide. The scientists say agriculture and forestry are the only sectors that have the potential to be a net sequestration sink for fossil-fuel generated greenhouse. The paper addresses several key topics, including nutrient and pest management, animal systems, ag technologies, the food supply chain and carbon markets. The report says USDA can partner with producers to reduce greenhouse gases through carbon sequestration. Additionally, USDA can help reduce emissions from rural energy cooperatives, bolster private working lands, public forests and grasslands, promote sustainable bioenergy wood products, contribute to the scientific understanding of climate change, and invest in climate-smart economic development in rural communities. ************************************************************************************ Applications Open for Operation Lifesaver Rail Transit Safety Education Grants Operation Lifesaver Inc. is accepting applications for competitive Rail Transit Safety Education Grants. Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit public safety education and awareness organization. Its work is dedicated to reducing collisions, fatalities and injuries at highway-rail crossings and preventing trespassing on or near railroad tracks. The grants offer a total of $220,000 in funding for transit agencies and governments that provide transit service to conduct rail transit safety education and public awareness initiatives. OLI Executive Director Rachel Maleh (mall-leigh) states, “We are grateful to the Federal Transit Administration for the agency’s support that helps make these grants, as well as our ongoing rail safety education and outreach efforts, possible.” Maleh noted that grant amounts are capped at $20,000 and require non-federal matching funds of at least 25 percent of project costs. Projects must be focused on safety education or public awareness initiatives. All applications are due by July 31, 2021. Learn more at oli.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 6, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Global Food Prices Rising Food prices are always a hot-button topic and they have reemerged as one this year. As the global economy emerges from the pandemic, food prices in several countries have posted sizable increases, with the Washington Post highlighting the situation in Russia, Nigeria and Argentina. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will update its global food price index this week after the month-ago increase sent global food prices according to their Food Price Index to the highest level since 2011. "A variety of factors are to blame, including a surge in orders from China, fluctuating oil prices, a sliding U.S. dollar, and looming above all: the pandemic, and in some places, reopening," the Post noted. However, they also noted, "Global prices, like the FAO index tracks, and the price that a consumer pays are rarely in sync." And more are starting to mention climate change as a potential long-term factor for the food price outlook. In Nigeria, the Post details the prices for a pot of jollof rice have risen, with the rice component up 10%, the price of a small tin of tomatoes used to make the dish is up 29% and onion prices are up by one-third, according to a Nigerian research firm. In fact, the item notes that the price of onions in Lagos, Nigeria, has doubled in price and there have been heists targeting onions. Border closures enacted during the pandemic tightened food supplies along with the devaluation of Nigeria's currency. In Russia, the world's top exporter of wheat, pasta prices have gone up dramatically. This has pushed up the vegetable, meat, dairy and pasta staple borscht. In all, prices for ingredients have risen some 12% since before the pandemic hit. But pasta prices caught the attention of President Vladimir Putin who decried people eating "navy-style pasta" which is a Soviet-era dish eaten during hard times. "This is unacceptable," Putin said, "with such large harvests." The situation has seen export limits put on wheat and other grains along with price controls on pasta. But even those actions have not made consumers in Russia feel any relief as the post noted poll results this spring rated food prices as the country's biggest issue by 58% of Russians. But those government actions can only work so long and the heavy hand of government often times leads to problems returning and potentially becoming even more severe. Enter Argentina, where the country's beef has been a key example of the food price situation. Over the past year, the price per kilogram of short ribs is up over 90%, according to the Institute for Promotion of Argentine Beef. The situation reached a point where the country opted to halt all beef exports for a month and they have come to agreement on resuming those exports, but only at 50% of the prior volume through the end of the year. But developing countries in particular are wary and sometimes outright scared of food-price increases. Hungry citizen become unhappy citizens and those can lead to great pressure on governments for actions to address those rising costs. Here in the U.S., commodity prices have risen this year on a surge in Chinese demand for corn and other grains as the country seeks to make sure it has enough feed to produce meats and other proteins for their expanding economy. Couple that with dry conditions in areas like the Northern Plains where hard red spring wheat and durum, the latter being the main wheat used to make pasta, and wheat prices have soared on the Minneapolis futures market. Indeed, consumers here are facing higher costs. USDA has raised its forecast for overall food price inflation and its outlook for food at home (grocery store) and food away from home (restaurant) prices. Overall food price inflation is now seen at 2.5% to 3.5% in 2021, up from their month-ago outlook that food price inflation would be 2% to 3%. Grocery store prices are now seen rising 2% to 3% in 2021 compared with their month-ago outlook that grocery store price would rise 1.5% to 2.5%. Restaurant prices are now seen up 3% to 4% from 2020 levels, an increase from the prior outlook that they would increase 2.5% to 3.5%. The updated forecasts also mean that prices are seen rising for all three categories by more than their 20-year average. Those averages are 2.4% for all food prices, 2.8% for restaurant prices, and 2% for grocery store prices. Even with the latest increase in USDA's forecasts, food prices in 2021 are not yet seen rising as much as they did in 2020. The pandemic obviously is factoring into the price situation. But, in the U.S., leading up to 2020 and now 2021, consumers saw grocery store prices either increasing at less than the 20-year average or decreasing over the 2015 to 2019. So we will see. The food price situation in the U.S. is rising, but other countries are seeing even greater impacts. But the situation needs to be watched closely, especially if major trading partners opt to try and keep more supplies at home as that could open market opportunities for U.S. producers, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 6, 2021 |


Another Federal Judge Puts Hold on USDA Debt Forgiveness Another preliminary injunction has been issued on USDA's debt forgiveness effort for socially disadvantaged farmers, with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas also granting a motion for class certification in the matter. Judge Reed O'Connor rejected the government's arguments in the case and issued the second preliminary injunction on the matter with a judge in Wisconsin expected to issue a decision yet this month on a case filed there. The Texas judge ruled that USDA has failed to provide evidence of how socially disadvantaged farmers have been discriminated against. In a frequently asked question section, the Farm Service Agency said the payments are for "decades of well-documented discrimination against socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers by USDA." USDA has acknowledged the court action in Florida on the debt relief effort but has continued efforts to get ready to make the payments. "Borrowers should continue to submit paperwork (signed offer letters) and USDA will continue to accept these letters and process them," the agency noted. "USDA will be prepared to provide the debt relief authorized by Congress at the earliest opportunity, depending on the ongoing litigation." But USDA said the payment timeline would be updated once they have "received updates regarding this litigation." USDA's initial expectation was that when a signed offer letter was received by the agency, it would take three weeks to pay off a loan and issue a payment to a borrower. The Farm Service Agency (FSA) has also issued guidance to state and county offices for the debt forgiveness effort relative to Farm Storage Facility Loans (FSFLs) but said that guidelines for action relative to the Farm Loan Program (FLP) would be provided at a later date.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 6, 2021 |


FDA Eyes July 2022 Guidance on Labels For Plant-Based Dairy Alternatives The Food and Drug Administration said it plans on releasing guidance on the issue of labeling plant-based dairy alternatives by July 2022, an action that will no doubt be a matter of contention for both dairy and plant-based food interests. The dairy industry has opposed allowing plant-based dairy alternatives to use terms like "milk," "yogurt," or "cheese" on their labels and has called on FDA to enforce standards of identity for milk which states that the term "milk" should only apply to a beverage derived from cows. FDA in 2018 issued a request for information to determine whether consumers are confused by plant-based products that are labeled as "milk." The National Milk Producers Federation petitioned FDA to make a distinction between dairy and plant-based products, but the plant-based food industry has fought the proposal. It is not clear where FDA will land on the issue, but the timeline released by the agency indicates a timeline for addressing the matter.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday July 6, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from a three-day weekend, traders will be checking the latest weather forecasts and rainfall amounts from over the weekend. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is set for 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. Weather Tuesday features light to moderate rain, locally heavy, in the northern Midwest. We'll also see locally heavy rain in south Texas and along the Gulf Coast. Forecast guidance over the next seven days indicates rain of moderate to heavy intensity spreading across much of the remainder of the Midwest, along with more seasonal temperatures. This would be favorable for corn pollination and soybean flowering and pod setting.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 2, 2021 |


USDA to Review Product of USA Labeling The Federal Trade Commission Thursday voted to strengthen its enforcement of the Made in USA standard. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded, "American consumers depend upon accurate, transparent labels to obtain important information about the food they consume." The FTC requires products to display a country of origin. However, if the products are imported and produced in the United States, they can display the Made in USA label. USDA announced last year the intention to conduct rulemaking to address the concern that the voluntary "Product of USA" label may confuse consumers about the origin of food products. Following that effort, Vilsack says USDA is initiating a top-to-bottom review of the “Product of USA” label. Vilsack says the review will help determine what the label means to consumers. Vilsack adds, “I am committed to ensuring that the Product of USA label reflects what a plain understanding of those terms means to U.S. consumers.” *********************************************************************************** Dairy Industry Urges Renewal of Trade Promotion Authority Dairy groups call on the Biden Administration to seek renewal of Presidential Trade Promotion Authority, which expired Thursday. The National Milk Producers Council and U.S. Dairy Export Council say the move will foster further expansion of U.S. dairy exports. TPA lays out congressional expectations for trade agreements negotiated by the administration and establishes a clear pathway for straightforward congressional input. To remain globally competitive, future trade agreements are vital for U.S. dairy farmers, workers, and manufacturers, according to the groups. The call for renewal comes on the one-year anniversary of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, enacted with the help of TPA. For dairy, USMCA provisions established improvements to market access in Canada and set clear standards for trade with Mexico. USDEC President and CEO Krysta Harden states, “Our ability to retain foreign customers in an increasingly competitive global dairy market is absolutely essential to farmers and dairy manufacturing facilities employing workers here at home.” *********************************************************************************** United States, Taiwan Talk Trade and Investments Priorities The United States and Taiwan held the eleventh Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, or TIFA, Council meeting this week. The discussions, held virtually, focused on enhancing the longstanding trade and investment relationship between the United States and Taiwan. The TIFA establishes council meetings as the key mechanism for trade and investment dialogue between the U.S. and Taiwan. At the TIFA Council meeting, U.S. officials emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Taiwan trade and investment relationship and expressed a desire for stronger and more consistent engagement going forward. The U.S. and Taiwan authorities committed to intensify engagement aimed at addressing outstanding trade concerns, including market access barriers facing U.S. beef and pork producers, as well as concerns raised by the U.S. in areas such as copyright legislation, digital piracy, financial services, investment and regulatory transparency. Taiwan is the United States’ 9th largest goods trading partner, with two-way goods trade totaling $90.9 billion in 2020. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Calls for Labor Reform, Launches New Foreign Worker Campaign The National Pork Producers Council Thursday introduced a campaign, “Year-Round Pork Needs Year-Round Workers.” The campaign highlights the vital role of foreign-born workers across the U.S. pork industry and the need for comprehensive labor reform to address a labor shortage. NPPC President Jen Sorensen says, “Unfortunately, current visa programs don’t provide access to enough workers to meet our labor needs on farms and in plants.” The campaign features the stories of four foreign-born workers and their employers in the U.S. pork industry. 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. NPPC says pork producers offer jobs with good pay and benefits, but most Americans do not live near hog farms or harvest facilities and rural populations continue to decline, causing the industry to be largely dependent on foreign-born workers. ************************************************************************************ CoBank: China Changes Buying Tactics as U.S. Grains Turn Volatile China shook up the U.S. feed grain export market over the last year, purchasing massive quantities of U.S. soybeans, sorghum and corn. A new report CoBank's Knowledge Exchange finds the outlook for continued U.S. grain exports to China remains strong, primarily due to its projected growth in pork production. However, the current U.S. grain run has entered a new phase marked by significant price volatility, and China is leveraging that volatility to its advantage. A CoBank researcher says, "The increased volatility in grain prices has led China to shift its buying pattern to wait for price weakness before committing to additional purchases, as well as to contract now for the next marketing year." China's heightened demand resulted in record-high grain prices that peaked in May and have since been extremely volatile. A period of elevated price volatility, coupled with an ongoing inverted futures curve, means that grain elevators and merchandisers will require capital discipline and excess liquidity. ************************************************************************************ Upper Midwest Drought Impacting Missouri River Navigation Season The Missouri River Water Management Division will reduce navigation flow support for the second half of the navigation flow support season. Drought conditions continue in the upper Missouri River basin, where river flows are managed by a series of lakes and dams. Downstream, this means reduced flows coming from Gavins Point dam near Yankton, South Dakota, lowering the flow of river navigation channels. Reducing navigation support is a necessary water conservation measure to ensure continued service to all stakeholders for the short- and long-term. The decrease in stage due to the reduced flow support will be less than half a foot. Actual stages will depend on the amount, timing, and location of tributary inflow below Gavins Point dam. Per the July 1 System storage check, and as outlined in the Missouri River Mainstem Reservoir System Master Water Control Manual, the service level to support navigation will be reduced 1,500 cubic feet per second from full-service levels.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 2, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Product of USA Labeling The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) voted 3-2 Thursday in favor of a new final rule the agency developed relative to "Made in USA" labels on products. The new rule will become final 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The FTC said their final rule "will crack down on marketers who make false, unqualified claims that their products are Made in the USA." FTC said the rule means that marketers making unqualified Made in USA claims on labels "should be able to prove that their products are 'all or virtually all' made in the United States." The FTC said the new rule will also help small businesses that rely on the Made in USA label, but typically do not have the resources to defend themselves from imitators. Under the new rule, the FTC has the ability to seek redress, damages, penalties, and other relief from those who lie about a Made in USA label. It will enable the Commission for the first time to seek civil penalties of up to $43,280 per violation of the rule, according to the agency. "The final rule provides substantial benefits to the public by protecting businesses from losing sales to dishonest competitors and protecting purchasers seeking to purchase American-made goods," said Commissioner Chopra. "More broadly, this long-overdue rule is an important reminder that the Commission must do more to use the authorities explicitly authorized by Congress to protect market participants from fraud and abuse." The issue has taken on attention in ag circles, with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack releasing a statement praising the FTC move. USDA will complement the FTC's efforts with its own initiative on labeling for products such as beef, and other agricultural products regulated by the Food Safety and Inspection Service, Vilsack said. "I am committed to ensuring that the Product of USA label reflects what a plain understanding of those terms means to U.S. consumers," Vilsack said. "Throughout the rulemaking process, we will be asking questions, collecting data, and requesting comments." So what does USDA plan to do? Vilsack said they will be considering ideas from "the whole range of stakeholders" and that will include feedback from trading partners. Vilsack pledged that USDA will work with trading partners to "ensure that this labeling initiative is implemented in a way that fulfills our commitment to working cooperatively with our trade partners and meeting our international trade obligations." The Product of USA label at USDA is a voluntary effort, one that some in the U.S. cattle industry have focused on since the end of mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (MCOOL) in 2015 after the U.S. lost at case at the WTO. The world trade body authorized Canada to enact more than $1 billion in retaliatory actions over the U.S. MCOOL program, and that retaliatory threat still exists even though the U.S. law has been repealed. But even though the Product of USA labeling effort at USDA is voluntary, it has been met with opposition from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), one of the U.S. groups that fought MCOOL. NCBA has petitioned USDA to end the Product of USA labeling effort. NCBA said they back voluntary labeling efforts that "meet consumer demand and allow producers to distinguish their products in the marketplace." In response to the FTC decision, NCBA President Jerry Bohn said, "The 'Product of the USA' label is not subject to source verification, is not tied to any kind of food safety standard, and is applied by packers and retailers in a manner that does not deliver value back to the cattle producer. This label not only misleads consumers, it is yet another barrier to producers gaining leverage and distinguishing their product in the marketplace." NCBA's Bohn said the group looks forward to working with USDA "to find labeling solutions that represent investments made by producers to continually improve their product and meet consumer demand." As the FTC developed its final rule, NCBA filed comments with the agency that "USDA has primary jurisdiction over all meat food product oversight activities, including the approval and verification of geographic and origin labeling claims." But the key in all this will come in part from USDA pledging to work with U.S. trading partners to make sure Product of USA labeling meets U.S. trade commitments. In other words, USDA will be working closely with Canada and Mexico on the topic as they were the two countries involved in the MCOOL battle at the WTO. Canadian officials have also reminded that any attempt to re-establish MCOOL will bring a swift retaliatory action on their part. No doubt that will be a key situation as this effort moves forward. But by USDA pledging to work on the Product of USA labeling effort, it also means that meat food product labeling will remain at USDA and not somehow shift over to FTC. Finding a workable solution is possible, but the key will be how Canada in particular reacts to whatever the U.S. opts to come up with. So we will see. The trade implications are potentially very important and any resulting labeling effort would likely still have to be voluntary so as to not run afoul of U.S. trade commitments, making this matter that needs to be closely monitored in the weeks and months ahead, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 2, 2021 |


US, Taiwan Restart Trade Talks The U.S. and Taiwan restarted dormant trade and investment talks and pledged to keep supply chains free from forced labor, a clear jab at China. China, of course, objects to the negotiations taking place. The trade talks were held via videoconference on Wednesday were the first between the U.S. and Taiwan since 2016. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative said the U.S. and Taiwan would create a new labor working group to pursue the issue. Taiwanese officials said the discussions were wide-ranging, covering supply chains, intellectual-property protection and financial services, as well as the import and export of vaccines and wild-animal protection. U.S. officials said there are "a lot of things we have to do" before such an agreement can be reached. While the talks do not deal with agriculture, the Trump administration refused to hold additional negotiations without assurances from Taiwan on ag trade issues.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 2, 2021 |


House Appropriators Clear FY 2022 Agriculture Spending Plan The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Agriculture appropriations, including amendments that would limit poultry line slaughter speeds and forbid the ownership of farmland by the Chinese government and its subsidiaries. The China amendment was brought by Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., and includes a provision that would make any land currently owned by China ineligible for farm programs or subsidies. The committee adopted by voice vote an amendment by Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., that would revoke 16 waivers granted during the COVID-19 pandemic to meat and poultry plants to increase line speeds for moving animal carcasses. The overall bill includes $26.6 billion FY 2022 Agriculture spending, a 12% increase in discretionary funding from the enacted FY 2021 level. The bill would provide a $2.9 billion increase in discretionary funds for USDA, Food and Drug Administration and Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The plan also provides $5 million for the Food and Drug Administration to create a pilot program in India and China for unannounced inspections of drug manufacturers. Foreign plants are usually given three months prior notice before an inspection. Full House action is expected but the Senate has yet to move forward on its version of the agriculture spending plan.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday July 2, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The U.S. Labor Department will release its reports on nonfarm payrolls and U.S. unemployment for June at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, the same time the Census Bureau releases the U.S. trade deficit for May. Later Friday morning, USDA will provide more specific details about ag exports in May, based on Census Bureau data. Grain traders will continue to keep a close watch on the latest weather forecasts and any export news ahead of the three-day weekend. Weather Dry conditions will cover northern and central crop areas Friday. Rain will focus in a swath from the Texas Panhandle to the Southeast with mostly light amounts. Temperatures will be very warm to hot. More extreme heat bulletins are in effect in the Northern Plains and interior Northwest. This pattern is indicated to remain through the holiday weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 1, 2021 |


USDA Acreage Report Shows Slightly Higher Corn and Soybean Plantings The Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service estimates 92.7 million acres of corn planted in the United States for 2021, up two percent from last year. The June 30 Acreage report also estimates soybean area planted at 87.6 million acres, up five percent from last year. Growers expect to harvest 84.5 million acres of corn for grain, up two percent from last year, and 93 percent of corn acres planted in the United States are biotech varieties, up one percentage point from last year. Producers planted 95 percent of the soybean acreage using herbicide-resistant seed varieties, one percentage point higher than in 2020. All wheat planted area for 2021 is estimated at 46.7 million acres, up five percent from last year. This represents the fourth-lowest all wheat planted area on record since records began in 1919. All cotton planted area for 2021 is estimated at 11.7 million acres, three percent below last year. ************************************************************************************ Grain Stocks Down Sharply in USDA Report The Department of Agriculture's quarterly Grain Stocks report, released with the June 30 Acreage report, shows sharp declines in corn and soybean stocks. Corn stocks totaled 4.11 billion bushels, down 18 percent from the same time last year. On-farm corn stocks were down 39 percent from a year ago, but off-farm stocks were up 11 percent. Soybeans stored totaled 767 million bushels, down 44 percent from last year. On-farm soybean stocks were down 65 percent, while off-farm stocks were down 27 percent. All wheat stored totaled 844 million bushels, down 18 percent from a year ago. On-farm all wheat stocks were down 38 percent, while off-farm stocks were down 12 percent. Durum wheat stored totaled 27.5 million bushels, down 34 percent from last year. On-farm stocks were down 24 percent, while off-farm stocks were down 42 percent. The Grain Stocks and Acreage reports sent corn, soybean and wheat markets sharply higher, hitting price limits on Wednesday. *********************************************************************************** Former Ag Secretary Perdue 2017 Real Estate Transaction Drawing Attention A report from the Washington Post questions a real estate transaction made by Sonny Perdue just after his selection to be Agriculture Secretary in 2017. The Washington Post reports Purdue's now-former company bought a small grain facility in South Carolina for $250,000, while ADM purchased the facility six years prior for $5.5 million. However, the county the facility is located in appraised the property at $530,000 in 2018. AN ADM spokesperson told the Post, “This was nothing more than a business decision to sell a significantly underperforming asset.” Both a representative of Perdue’s former company and ADM confirmed the negotiations for the transaction started in 2015, when ADM originally asked for $4 million for the property. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow called the findings distributing. Responding to the report, she states, “I’ve already called on the Office of Government Ethics to review this situation, and believe that they should expedite their efforts.” ************************************************************************************ OCM Applauds Introduction of Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act House lawmakers Wednesday introduced the Opportunities for Fairness in Farming Act to reform and bring accountability and transparency to Commodity Checkoff Programs. Applauded by the Organization for Competitive Markets, the organization claims checkoff programs “have long been plagued by scandal after scandal for misappropriation of funds, lack of transparency, and misusing farmer and rancher tax dollars against the best interests of the producers.” Representative Dina Titus, a Democrat from Nevada, and Nancy Mace, a Republican from South Carolina, introduced the legislation. Mace states, “This program has devolved from producing ‘Got milk?’ ads to creating taxpayer-funded lobbying firms, and it needs to stop.” The bill would amend the authorizing checkoff laws to ensure the programs cannot contract with organizations that engage in lobbying, conflicts of interest, or anti-competitive activities that harm other commodities. It would also require that they publish all budgets for public inspection and submit to periodic audits by the USDA Inspector General. ************************************************************************************ USDA Seeks New Partnerships to Safeguard, Restore Wetland Ecosystems The Department of Agriculture is investing up to $17 million for conservation partners to help protect and restore critical wetlands on agricultural lands. Through the Wetland Reserve Enhancement Partnership, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service announced Wednesday it is prioritizing proposals that focus on assisting historically underserved producers conserving wetlands. USDA says restored wetlands help to improve water quality downstream, enhance wildlife habitat, reduce impacts from flooding and provide recreational benefits. NRCS Chief Terry Cosby states, “Our goal is to support agricultural producers in their efforts to conserve natural resources on their land.” The program enables effective integration of wetland restoration on working agricultural landscapes, providing benefits to farmers and ranchers who enroll in the program and to the communities where the wetlands exist. The funding is for fiscal year 2022, which begins on October 1, 2021. Partners interested in applying should contact their NRCS state office for more information. Proposals are due by August 15, 2021. ************************************************************************************ NIFA Invests Over $5.4M in Biobased Products Research The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced $5.4 million in bioprocessing, bioengineering, biofuels and biobased products research investments through the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. NIFA recently awarded $4.8 million for 12 Bioprocessing and Bioengineering grants under NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, and more than $600,000 for six Biofuels and Biobased Products grants under NIFA’s Small Business Innovation Research program. NIFA =director Dr. Carrie Castille states, "NIFA’s Bioprocessing and Bioengineering awards fund projects that will stimulate new trade opportunities for the U.S. bioeconomy.” For example, the University of Idaho received nearly $330,000 for a project to develop an environmentally friendly approach for wood protection. Other projects include exploring the use of pennycress, a non-edible oil, in developing biodegradable plastic, and a bio-based extended-release insect repellent. The next Phase 1 request for Small Business Innovation Research applications is scheduled to open in July 2021, with an October 2021 deadline. Learn more online at www.nifa.usda.gov.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 1, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Still Waiting on More Dairy Aid The dairy sector and lawmakers representing key dairy states have been pushing for more financial help for dairy producers in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Dairy producers and others have complained that they did not see as much benefit from the pandemic aid efforts like the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2) which paid out more than $1.2 billion to dairy producers and the CFAP 1 effort saw payments of $1.8 billion. Plus, the dairy sector saw a big rise in prices via the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. That effort surprised markets and sent Class I milk prices shooting higher as the industry grappled with the sudden rise in demand from the government effort that resulted in fresh dairy products being sent out to recipients. But the Food Box Program has since ended, with USDA pledging to put the “best of” from the Food Box effort into other established food and nutrition efforts. And they have announced help will be available to set up storage for fresh products that could be included in those food and nutrition efforts. USDA on June 15 acknowledged that not all sectors or producers had shared in pandemic aid equally, as a portion of the aid announced was aimed at “filling gaps in previous rounds of assistance and helping beginning, socially disadvantaged and small and medium sized producers that need support most.” USDA said the efforts it announced that day would be coming over the next 60 days. And dairy figured into that mix. USDA in April announced it would be moving ahead with a new Dairy Donation Program (DDP), an effort to “address food insecurity and mitigate food waste and loss.” The June 15 announcement from USDA said that $400 million would be earmarked for that effort. But the program is not yet ready to roll. USDA only on June 9 sent the DDP proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for their review. That review could take up to 90 day, but odds are USDA is expecting that will not be the case. So that effort will likely be fully launched days after OMB finishes their review of the program. USDA also said that there would be $580 million in Supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) payments made to small and medium farms. But there too, additional regulations are expected to be needed in order to make those dollars available. And as of June 30, USDA had not sent those regulations over to OMB for their review. As the announcement was made that President Joe Biden and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack would go to Wisconsin this week, expectations rose for there to be some kind of dairy announcement. With the DDP regs still at OMB and the apparently needed regs to make additional DMC payments yet to go to OMB, odds rose that some other aid effort was going to be announced. That set off a flurry of activity in Washington, with indications that a program of direct payments to dairy producers in the range of $750 million to $1 billion was on tap. As last week wore on, the dollar amount appeared to be the major uncertainty, with all eyes focused on June 29, the day of the Biden/Vilsack Wisconsin visit. The extra payments appeared to be under the scope of what USDA announced June 15 -- “Additional pandemic payments targeted to dairy farmers that have demonstrated losses that have not been covered by previous pandemic assistance.” That was a rather general description which appeared to a description of the direct aid that was being worked on to be announced in Wisconsin. But all that changed late in the week. The White House was sending signals that the Wisconsin trip focused mostly or entirely on infrastructure. Seems the White House was eyeing that as part of their damage control after the dust up that arose after the announcement last week that saw Biden imply that if Congress only sent him the bipartisan infrastructure package, he would veto it. That set the White House scurrying to walk back those remarks and make clear at least from their perspective, or officially, there was no linkage. So when Tuesday rolled around, there was no clear signal of a dairy program that would be announced. And to boot, Vilsack did not even make the trip. So we will see. Clearly there will be more aid flowing to dairy producers, but it may take time for a chunk of those dollars to move and the process for getting the payment effort readied needs to be closely monitored, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 1, 2021 |


USDA Sends Final Rule to OMB On Non-Cattle Imports And BSE USDA has sent forward a final rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review that would revise rules for imports of sheep, goats, and other non-cattle ruminants and their products with regard to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The rule would remove BSE-related import restrictions on sheep, goats and most of their products and add import restrictions relative to transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) for certain wild, zoological or other non-cattle species. The rule would align U.S. import conditions with internationally accepted rules from the World Organization for Animal Health's Terrestrial Animal Health Code. USDA aims to publish the final rule in August.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 1, 2021 |


Three Biofuel-Related Bills Coming Biofuel-backing senators will introduce three pieces of legislation aimed at bolstering the sector, including efforts to expand higher biofuel blends, provide tax incentives for flex fuel vehicles and establish a tax credit higher blends of ethanol. The first effort would appropriate $100 million annually in Fiscal Years (FYs) 2021 through 2030 for efforts to update fueling dispensers and storage tanks for higher biofuel blends, with 75% cost share for new pumps to dispense higher ethanol blends, 50% for higher biodiesel blends, and 40% of the cost to update tanks. Another measure would establish a $200-per-vehicle tax credit for flex-fuel vehicles. The low-carbon fuel tax credit would provide 5 cents per gallon for E15 and 10 cents per gallon for blends over 15% ethanol. There already has been a push by some lawmakers to include biofuel efforts in any infrastructure package, and it would seem these pieces of legislation are being offered potentially with that goal in mind. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, are co-authors of the first two pieces of legislation with Klobuchar and John Thune, R-S.D., teaming up on the low-carbon fuel tax credit bill.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday July 1, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales are due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, along with weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. ISM's index of U.S. manufacturing is out at 9 a.m., followed by natural gas inventories at 9:30 a.m. Traders will likely still be considering Wednesday's USDA reports and keeping a close watch on the latest weather forecasts. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store Thursday from the Ohio Valley to the Texas Panhandle. Flood threat is high. Other primary crop areas will be dry with very warm to hot conditions. Heat bulletins cover much of the northern Plains, interior Northwest and Canadian Prairies.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 30, 2021 |


July 4th Cookout Cost Stable Compared to Year Ago U.S. consumers will pay just a few cents less for their favorite Independence Day cookout foods compared to last year, including cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, strawberries and ice cream. The American Farm Bureau Federation reveals the average cost of a summer cookout for ten people remains affordable at $59.50, or less than $6 per person. The cost for the cookout is down 16 cents, less than one percent, from last year, but eight percent higher compared to 2019. The largest year-to-year price increase was for strawberries. Survey results showed two pints of strawberries at $5.30, up 22 percent from last year, due to strong demand and the effects of several weather events, including severe rain, hail and high winds that caused significant setbacks to the harvest early in 2021. AFBF's summer cookout menu consists of cheeseburgers, pork chops, chicken breasts, homemade potato salad, pork & beans, strawberries, potato chips and fresh-squeezed lemonade with ice cream and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. ************************************************************************************ NPPC Urges Administration to Appeal Line Speed Court Ruling Before Deadline A federal district court ruling striking down faster harvest facility inspection speeds takes effect today (Wednesday, June 30). The Biden administration has until the end of August to file an appeal, as requested by the National Pork Producers Council. NPPC says the ruling will quickly lead to increased pork industry concentration and packer market power, and seeks waivers for the impacted plants until a longer-term solution, acceptable to all industry stakeholders, is achieved. Iowa State University Research shows the ruling eliminates 2.5 percent of pork packing plant capacity nationwide and will result in $80 million in reduced income for small U.S. hog farmers this year alone. NPPC President Jen Sorenson states, “NPPC continues to urge the administration to appeal before the ruling inflicts irreversible damage to small hog farmers and seismic changes to our entire sector.” Last week, more than 70 lawmakers sent letters asking Agriculture Secretary Vilsack and Acting Solicitor General Prelogar to appeal the court decision. *********************************************************************************** Over 1,000 Counties Approved for Emergency Haying and Grazing on CRP Acres More than 1,000 counties are eligible for emergency Conservation Reserve Program haying and grazing. An American Farm Bureau Federation Market Intel analysis shows the most recently published list of counties with permitted haying and grazing on CRP land includes 1,021 counties, or 32 percent of counties. Primarily located in the West, 860 of those counties have been designated in 2021. In June alone, emergency haying and grazing on CRP acres was authorized in 196 counties. Between June 17 and June 24, 39 counties were added to the designation list, an increase of four percent in one week. Every week, USDA updates the map of counties eligible for emergency haying and/or grazing based on the U.S. Drought Monitor. Counties are approved for emergency haying and grazing when they are designated as level “D2 Drought - Severe” according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The latest report shows 35 percent of the U.S. in D2 or worse drought, with 61 percent of the continental U.S. in some form of drought. ************************************************************************************ Strong Demand and Competitive Bidding Pushes Land Prices Higher Interest in purchasing agricultural land has grown since a coronavirus pandemic-induced slowdown blanketed the land market last spring. Farmers are feeling more financially secure as strong commodity prices arrived on top of large government payments in 2020. This is propelling farmers to bid more aggressively for additional land than has been the case during the past six years, according to Farmers National Company. Individual investors, both first-time, and experienced buyers, are stepping into the land market as they search for a safe, long-term real estate investment in a low interest rate environment. The increase in ag land prices is happening in most areas of the Grain Belt and with most types of land. Higher land values will bring more sellers into the market as estates, trusts, recent inheritors, and family groups evaluate whether to sell the farm or ranch and capture the higher prices. An additional consideration is the uncertainty surrounding future tax policies, which may trigger a sale sooner rather than later for some. ************************************************************************************ AVMA supports legislation to strengthen dog importation requirements The American Veterinary Medical Association Tuesday reaffirmed its support for the Healthy Dog Importation Act. The legislation is designed to reduce the spread of diseases that could be dangerous to human and animal health. The bill provides the Department of Agriculture with additional resources to monitor and safeguard the health of dogs brought into the United States. The goal is to ensure imported dogs are in good health and not a risk to spread disease. Representatives Kurt Schrader, an Oregon Democrat, and Dusty Johnson, a South Dakota Republican, Co-chairs of the Veterinary Medicine Caucus, reintroduced the legislation. The bill would require every imported dog to have a certificate of veterinary inspection from a licensed veterinarian confirming the dog is healthy and has received all vaccinations and passed all tests required by the USDA. More than one million dogs are imported into the U.S. each year, but less than one percent of these dogs are inspected for diseases. ************************************************************************************ Next COVID Casualty Could be Coffee COVID-19 shockwaves could create a round of trouble for the coffee industry, according to Purdue University. Starting in the 2011-12 growing season, a powdery orange fungus called coffee leaf rust spread throughout Latin America and Central America, damaging crops on 70 percent of farms and causing more than $3.2 billion in damage. Coffee crop management programs helped growers mitigate the fungus. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic caused reduced management, and closed borders, limiting or eliminating movement of migrant workers essential for coffee harvests in Latin America and Central America. Without crops being harvested, profits fall further, and the feedback loop intensifies. Without efforts to eradicate coffee leaf rust, global coffee supplies could dwindle, making a cup of coffee more costly. Researchers suggest a number of measures that could help with rust issues, including sourcing coffee from more areas, including those not as severely impacted by the fungus and diversifying farms and livelihoods of coffee farmers.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 30, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Trade Promotion Authority to Expire July 1 will bring about the expiration of a trade policy tool used by several administrations for decades -- Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) which used to be known as "fast-track" trade authority. So far, the Biden administration had not submitted legislation to Congress to reauthorize TPA. President Joe Biden should be familiar with the current version of TPA because it was approved by Congress and signed into law in June 2015 by President Barack Obama. So what does TPA do? It allows an administration to negotiate a trade deal with a foreign country or countries, and bring the implementing legislation for the deal to the U.S. Congress for their approval via an up-or-down vote with no amendments possible. The reasoning is that no country would likely want to enter into a trade deal with the U.S. if the 435 members of the House of Representatives and 100 members of the Senate could change the deal. To be covered by TPA, the trade deal has to be negotiated during the time period for which TPA is in effect and it has to advance U.S. trade negotiating objectives that are spelled out in the TPA legislation. Originally, the current version of TPA was only effective until July 1, 2018, but could be extended through July 1, 2021 if the president asked for an extension. President Donald Trump did that March 20, 2018. To have prevented the extension, Congress would have had to clear a disapproval resolution within 60 days of July 1, 2018. They did not. The roots of "fast track" go back to the Trade Act of 1974. The term Trade Promotion Authority was adopted in the Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2002. It was first used to enact the Tokyo Round Agreements Act of 1979 which implemented the 1974-1979 multilateral trade liberalization agreement that were reached during the Tokyo Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). That trade body was the forerunner to the current World Trade Organization (WTO). TPA has been renewed four times -- 1979, 1988, 2002 and 2015. In 1993 -- a short-term extension was approved by Congress to allow the completion of the GATT Uruguay Round of trade negotiations. According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), TPA has been used for 14 bilateral/regional free trade agreements (FTAs) and one additional set of multilateral trade liberalization agreements under GATT. One FTA was approved by Congress without TPA -- The U.S.-Jordan FTA. That deal was viewed as noncontroversial and only covered a small amount of U.S. trade. In the current version of TPA, there are trade objectives spelled out that Congress included that they insist an administration follow if they want the trade deal to be implemented using the TPA rules. There are three categories of trade objectives in the current TPA, including (1) overall objectives; (2) principal objectives; and (3) capacity building and other priorities. There are separate negotiating objectives for agriculture, 21 in total. The current version had three objectives added to the 18 that previously were a part of TPA. The three new ones covered trade relative to sanitary and phytosanitary measures, that trade negotiators had to make sure on transparency of tariff-rate quotas so they did not impede trade, and the third seeks to eliminate and prevent the improper use of geographical indicators, according to CRS. As for the Biden administration, only USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has indicated that TPA is needed. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, when pressed by House Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, about whether the administration would be seeking a renewal of TPA, would only say Tai would only say that the administration wants to win bipartisan support for renewal and wants to rethink the objectives of trade agreements before seeking the authority. The potential impacts if TPA is allowed to lapse would be on the UK and Kenya trade deal negotiations that were launched under the Trump administration. The Biden administration has only said it is examining those negotiations before deciding whether to move forward. And, the Biden administration has made clear they are focused on enforcing existing trade deals, not negotiating new ones. So we will see. TPA is a tool that has been used by both parties and letting it lapse has raised even more concerns about the trade focus for the U.S. and the situation needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 30, 2021 |


US-EU Civil Aircraft Dispute 'Solution' Still Reveals Tensions Even as the U.S. and European Union (EU) agreed to a five-year suspension of trade action in the dual civil aircraft dispute involving Airbus and Boeing, the two clashed a bit during a WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB) session June 28 in Geneva. The U.S. challenged the EU to provide status reports in the matter after the EU requested a status update on a separate trade issue. The U.S. said the EU was being contradictory in asking the U.S. for a status update over U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty transfers to the domestic industry under the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000. The EU countered it is only required to provide status updates at certain stages in the dispute settlement process and the portion of the dispute related to Airbus was still pending appeal and therefore, they were not required to provide a status update. This shows that even the "agreement" reached between the two sides, there is still a ways to go before the situation is totally resolved.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 30, 2021 |


Potato Growers Push Biden Administration On Mexico Access The National Potato Council (NPC) is calling on the Biden administration to keep pushing Mexico in the dispute over their potato import actions. While a recent Mexican Supreme Court ruling was "significant progress" in the dispute, the NPC said, "there are serious concerns about the long-term prospects for successful market access for U.S. potatoes in Mexico." NPC contends that Mexico's potato cartel CONPAPA is "exerting great political pressure" to impede competition from the U.S. They noted Mexico's SENASICA in April changed the U.S. fresh potato import protocol without notification to the U.S. and involves additional sampling of U.S. potatoes to be sent to a lab selected and paid for by CONPAPA. "The clear goal of this unilateral change is to manufacture a reason to close the market to U.S. fresh potatoes at some point in the future," NPC said in the letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Vilsack is currently scheduled to meet with Mexican Agriculture Secretary Victor Villalobos Arambula in early August where issues on GMO corn, glyphosate and the potato trade situation are expected to be key topics

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 30, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The private firm, ADP, reports on U.S. private sector job growth Wednesday at 7:15 a.m. CDT, an early hint of Friday's June unemployment report. The U.S. Department of Energy releases its weekly energy inventories at 9:30 a.m., followed by USDA's Acreage and June 1 Grain Stocks reports at 11 a.m. CDT. Grain traders will give USDA's reports plenty of attention, but will also be keeping an eye on the latest weather forecasts. Weather More showers are expected along a frontal boundary that is starting to shift around the Plains and Midwest Wednesday. The pivot point of this front around Missouri, which has seen flooding rains since the weekend, will have the best chance for seeing flooding today. More scattered showers are expected south and east of the front as well, which may continue to delay winter wheat harvest. Dryness north of the front will stress developing row crops in the Northern Plains while heat continues to bake the Pacific Northwest and Canadian Prairies.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 29, 2021 |


Supreme Court Rejects Petition Against California Prop 12 The U.S. Supreme Court Monday denied a petition to review California’s Proposition 12. The denial was included in a batch of announcements by the Supreme Court. Earlier this month, the North American Meat Institute supported its petition, stating the law “provides no benefit to consumers and increases breeding sow mortality.” The Meat Institute file the petition in February, challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 12: The Farm Animal Confinement Initiative. In March, 20 state attorneys general filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting the petition. The California law establishes minimum space requirements based on square feet for calves raised for veal, breeding pigs, and egg-laying hens and bans the sale of animals confined to areas below minimum square-feet requirements. The primary issue raised by NAMI and states is that the law extends to producers located outside of California, imposing "crushing burdens on out-of-state farmers and producers who have no political voice to shape the regulations.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Amends the National List for Organic Livestock And Handling The Department of Agriculture announced changes to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances in organic livestock production. USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service is finalizing three amendments to the National List. Published in the Federal Register Friday, the final rule provides additional options for organic farms and businesses, by adding three substances to the list of substances allowed for organic production and handling. The final rule allows oxalic (ok-sal-ik) acid as a pesticide for use in beekeeping, nonorganic pullulan (pull-you-lan) for use in dietary supplements with "made with organic" claims regarding capsules and tablets, and collagen gel as a casing for organic products like sausages. Once effective, producers and handlers of organic products will be allowed to use these substances in organic production and organic products. USDA says the changes are based on public input and the April 2019 National Organic Standards Board recommendations. The final rule takes effect July 26, 2021. ************************************************************************************ House Republicans Sound Alarm on Plan to Navigable Waters Protection Rule Top Republican leaders in the House of Representatives warn that the Environmental Protection Agency may be returning to the Obama-era Waters of the United States definition. In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan announced Friday, the members outlined their concerns regarding the intention to rewrite the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The Members wrote, “With all the other crises confronting our nation it makes little sense to unravel a final rule that has taken decades of Agency action, litigation, and legislation to settle.” They urged the EPA and Army Corps not to ignore the input of the general public, small businesses, Federal and state agencies, and the rest of the regulated community to create another rule that provides less regulatory certainty for the involved stakeholders. Representatives David Rouzer, Glenn GT Thompson, Kevin McCarthy, Sam Graves and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, along with Bruce Westerman and Blaine Luetkemeyer and others, signed the letter. *********************************************************************************** China Plans Pork Purchases for State Reserves Chinese officials announced Monday a plan to buy pork for state reserves to support prices, which rebounded sharply after reaching a two-year low recently. Hog prices in China, the world's top pork-producing nation, plunged 65 percent in the first half of 2021 as disease outbreaks triggered panic selling, according to Reuters. China reports average weekly prices entered an “excessive decline” last week. However, China does not disclose how much pork is in state reserves or how much new purchases will total. A Rabobank analyst told Reuters, "Since the frozen pork inventory is probably already high due to strong imports in the previous months, I don't think they'll buy too much." China last made pork purchases in February and March of 2019, totaling 200,000 metric tons. So far in 2021, China has imported nearly two million metric tons of pork, up 13.7 percent. The purchases followed a record 4.4 million metric tons last year. ************************************************************************************ New Beef Processing Facility Announced in Iowa Cattlemen’s Heritage plans to build a $325 million beef processing plant in southwest Iowa. The facility will employ 750 people with a target to begin operations in late 2023, according to the Des Moines Register. Cattlemen’s Heritage, a newly formed company, plans to build the facility near Council Bluffs to process 400,000 head of cattle annually. Investor Chad Tentinger told the newspaper weak cattle prices, strong consumer demand, and available investment capital that had been sidelined during the COVID-19 pandemic helped drive the decision to build the facility. The facility expects to process cattle from Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota. The facility helps address the issue of cattle processing capacity in the United States, a hot topic in agriculture today. The four largest meatpackers in the United States process roughly 85 percent of the nation's beef supply. Disruptions in beef cattle markets started in 2019 when a fire halted beef processing at a Tyson Foods facility in Holcomb, Kansas. ************************************************************************************ Gas Prices Resume Increase After declining last week, the nation’s average gas prices have begun to climb again, rising 2.5 cents per gallon from a week ago to $3.09, according to GasBuddy. The national average now stands 4.7 cents higher than a month ago and 92.1 cents higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel has risen 2.3 cents in the last week and stands at $3.24 per gallon. Gas Buddy’s Patrick De Haan states, “As we approach July 4, it appears the only way forward is for gas prices to continue to rise as Americans’ demand for gasoline continues to act as a catalyst.” Crude oil inventories saw another plunge last week, falling 7.6 million barrels and now stand six percent under the average for this time of year. Gasoline inventories also dipped, dropping 2.9 million barrels. U.S. gasoline demand fell slightly after reaching new records for consecutive weeks. Nationally, weekly gasoline demand fell 2.1 percent.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 29, 2021 |


Washington Insider: China Firms Scale Back Investment in US Each year, the China General Chamber of Commerce-USA releases a survey of Chinese businesses that operate in the U.S., and this year it showed a decline in their level of investment in the U.S. About 39% of Chinese companies saw their investment in the U.S. drop so far in 2021, compared with 17% last year, the survey said. It was taken in March and April with a sampling of 183 respondents. Only 12% of the Chinese businesses increased their investment, Bloomberg reported, down from 23% in 2020 and 39% in 2018. The figures from 2018 are notable as that was just ahead of the Trump trade war launched against China in the form of tariffs, etc. Of course, COVID factored into the situation. "Respondents suggested revenue and profitability suffered in 2020 due to a tougher business environment in the U.S., primarily related to COVID-19," the report said. "The pandemic's impact was negative for most but varied by sector. Expectations on when revenue and profitability will return to pre-pandemic levels vary by sector, as well, but generally, Chinese companies surveyed are somewhat more positive on the near-term economic outlook than they were last year." But there were other themes running through the data. The Biden administration has not greatly altered the U.S. policy toward China, and in some respects, it perhaps has been tightened compared with the actions from the Trump administration. And Chinese companies operating in the U.S. have felt these impacts as the report said that 79% said the investment and business environments have worsened, the highest level since at least 2018. One year ago, that level stood at just 55%. "Chinese companies indicated they continue to adapt to changing U.S. government policies and enforcement priorities at the federal and state levels," the report stated. "After several years of enhancing employee training and working with third-party organizations, Chinese companies reported they are also prioritizing strengthening their compliance systems and procedures to navigate what is perceived to be a complex legal and regulatory environment in the U.S." Even though there was still a level of optimism with Chinese companies operating in the U.S., the report said that only 43% expected higher revenues over the next two years, down from 57% in 2020 and 63% in 2019. Almost 20% of those surveyed predicted lower sales. And that outlook has fallen since 2015. In 2015, over 60% viewed the environment positively in the U.S. positively and only 4% held a negative view. "This year, only about a quarter (27%) held positive views, whereas 40% held negative views," the report said. And they noted things are perhaps a little less certain in terms of U.S. rules and regulations, an interesting observation given the rapid-fire changes in U.S. policy toward China that took place during the Trump administration. "This year, the top compliance challenges faced by surveyed Chinese companies shifted from lack of knowledge on relevant laws and regulations to navigating perceived complicated laws and regulations and potential conflicts between U.S. and Chinese laws and regulations," the report said. The survey showed lessening levels negative effects of U.S. government policies or positions, with 73% citing tightening work visa authorizations or immigration policies. That level stood at 76% in 2020. High tariffs on Chinese products were cited by 59% in 2021 while that stood at 73% in 2020. Two new options were added for companies, including general economic and trade sanctions where 58% said that was a factor, with 35% citing export controls and 28% cited the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act. Bloomberg pointed out that the Biden administration has been "adding more Chinese firms to blacklists, sending more warships through the Taiwan Strait, barring solar imports from Xinjiang and pressing Beijing on Hong Kong and new investigations into the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic." But despite those actions, 65% of those surveyed said the year-over-year challenges in conducting business in the U.S. reflected "complex China-U.S. relations." By contrast, that was labeled as a challenge by 74% in 2020 and 75% in 2019. So we will see. It's interesting that even though little has changed in terms of U.S. policy toward China and some areas have been more restricted, Chinese businesses remain optimistic. Still, this is an area that needs to be watched closely as the China-U.S. relationship unfolds, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 29, 2021 |


USDA Raises Food Price Inflation Outlook Consumer food costs are increasing and USDA has raised its forecast for overall food price inflation and its outlook for food at home (grocery store) and food away from home (restaurant) prices. Overall food price inflation is now seen at 2.5% to 3.5% in 2021, up from their month-ago outlook that food price inflation would be 2% to 3%. Grocery store prices are now seen rising 2% to 3% in 2021 compared with their month-ago outlook that grocery store price would rise 1.5% to 2.5%. Restaurant prices are now seen up 3% to 4% from 2020 levels, an increase from the prior outlook that they would increase 2.5% to 3.5%. The updated forecasts also mean that prices are seen rising for all three categories by more than their 20-year average. Those averages are 2.4% for all food prices, 2.8% for restaurant prices, and 2% for grocery store prices. However, it is important to note that leading up to 2020 and now 2021, consumers saw grocery store prices either increasing at less than the 20-year average or decreasing over the 2015 to 2019.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 29, 2021 |


Republicans Note Concerns Over WOTUS Redo House Republicans sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime Pinkham outlining concerns with the administration's intention to undo the Trump administration's Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The EPA on June 9 said it and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to launch rulemakings to restore the pre-2015 definition of the waters of the United States (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. "We are concerned that the approach the Agencies intend to take in re-vising this important regulation will regress from the clarity provided by the Navigable Waters Protection Rule and will reimpose a vastly overbroad interpretation of federal jurisdiction over waters around the Nation," the lawmakers said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 29, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Trading in grains is apt to be quiet ahead of Wednesday's USDA reports. A report on consumer confidence is the only thing on Tuesday's docket, set for 9 a.m. Traders will continue to watch over the latest weather forecasts and any news of export sales. Any news of change in biofuels policy has also put traders on edge lately. Weather The front that has remained stationary from West Texas to Lower Michigan over the past couple of days continues on Tuesday, producing showers along the front that could result in flooding. Behind the front, scattered showers are expected except in the Northern Plains, where conditions are becoming drier, a trend that will continue for the rest of the week as the front pushes southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 28, 2021 |


Supreme Court Delivers Blow to Ethanol Industry A Supreme Court ruling Friday left the biofuels industry disappointed. The Supreme Court overturned a 2020 appellate court ruling that struck down three small refinery exemptions granted by previous Environmental Protection Agency administrators. However, because certain elements of the appellate court ruling were left unchallenged and were not reviewed by the Supreme Court, the groups remain optimistic that the Biden administration will discontinue the past administration’s “flagrant abuse” of the refinery exemption program. A coalition, including the Renewable Fuels Association, National Farmers Union, National Corn Growers Association, and the American Coalition for Ethanol, responded, “we will not stop fighting for America’s farmers and renewable fuel producers.” The decision stems from a May 2018 challenge brought against EPA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit by the coalition. The petitioners argued that the small refinery exemptions were granted in direct contradiction to the statutory text and purpose of the RFS. *********************************************************************************** NCBA Welcomes House Processing Capacity Bill Introduction of the Butcher Block Act in the House of Representatives last week received a warm welcome from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. The legislation would establish a stand-alone loan program through the Department of Agriculture to help processors expand capacity, improve marketing options for cattle producers and encourage competitive markets and pricing for live cattle. The supply of live cattle and the demand for U.S. beef are both strong, but a lack of processing capacity or "hook space" has stifled producer profitability. The legislation authorizes the Agriculture Secretary to establish a grant program that would support a range of research and training efforts aimed at strengthening the workforce to meet labor needs, and helping processors become federally inspected to increase capacity. NCBA President Jerry Bohn says the legislation “addresses both of those hurdles, and would go a long way to alleviating the bottleneck that is depressing live cattle prices for our farmers and ranchers.” *********************************************************************************** Lawmakers Ask Biden Administration to Help Hog Farmers More than 70 lawmakers late last week asked the Department of Agriculture to stop a recent court order the National Pork Producers Council says will cause harm to hog farmers. Lawmakers made the request in a letter led by Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley and Minnesota Republican Representative Jim Hagedorn. The letters call on the Biden administration to appeal a recent federal district court ruling striking down pork harvest facility line speeds allowed under USDA New Swine Inspection System. NPPC claims the order will lead to pork industry concentration and increased market power for plant operators at the expense of small hog farmers. NPPC President Jen Sorenson states, “While the administration can appeal the court’s decision until the end of August, the damage to U.S. pork producers will be immediate.” Pork Industry Economist Steve Meyer says the order “reduces competition because the impacted plants will process fewer hogs, leaving more pigs available to other packers.” ************************************************************************************ Top House Ag Republican Opposes Growing Climate Solutions Act The top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee opposes the Growing Climate Solutions Act passed by the Senate last week. Representative Glen GT Thompson, a Republican from Pennsylvania, says the bill is a “big-government solution in search of a problem.” The Senate passed the bill last week, with support from many agriculture groups. However, Thompson says, “The consequences of government intrusion into voluntary carbon markets have not been adequately explored and Congress should continue educating itself and vetting these issues before legislating.” However, Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow called the bill a “win-win for farmers.” The legislation proposes a certification program at USDA to mitigate technical entry barriers to farmer and forest landowner participation in carbon credit markets. The bill also creates an online resource for farmers looking to connect with experts and establishes an Advisory Council to provide input to USDA and ensure the program remains effective and works for farmers. *********************************************************************************** Ag, Manufacturing Groups, Welcome Infrastructure Framework Progress The White House released the framework of an infrastructure package last week, supported by equipment manufactures and soybean farmers. The $1.2 trillion framework includes $109 billion for roads and bridges, $65 billion for broadband infrastructure and $7.5 billion for electric vehicles infrastructure. The plan to overhaul the country’s transportation, water and broadband infrastructure would invest resources proposed in President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan. The American Soybean Association, a long-standing advocate of investments for ports, waterways and road transportation, welcomed the announcement. ASA President Kevin Scott says, “We are thankful to see these issues prioritized and that the plan avoids tax provisions that would negatively impact farmers and their families, such as drastic changes to stepped-up basis.” The Association of Equipment Manufacturers welcomed the details, but stated, “the job is not done.” AEM’s Kip Eideberg says, “Despite what skeptics say, we can and must get this deal all the way across the finish line in a bipartisan manner.” ************************************************************************************ Interagency Agreement to Coordinate Broadband Funding Deployment The Department of Agriculture and other Federal Agencies Friday announced an interagency agreement to coordinate the distribution of broadband deployment funds. USDA, the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration signed the agreement. Each federal agency partner agrees to share information about existing or planned projects that receive funding from the various federal funding sources. The agreement also requires the federal agency partners to consider basing the distribution of funds from the programs on standardized broadband coverage data. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says broadband “is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected, adding, “USDA remains committed to being a strong partner with rural communities.” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo (Roh-MUN-doh) says the announcement “lays important groundwork for collaboration between agencies to ensure the federal government’s efforts to expand broadband access are as effective and efficient as possible.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 28, 2021 |


Washington Insider: The Supreme Court and Biofuels The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday issued a long-awaited ruling in a case involving biofuels, siding with refiners in the case. The nation's top court ruled in the HollyFrontier Cheyenne Refining vs. Renewable Fuels Association (RFA) that the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in error when it invalidated three small refinery exemptions (SREs) for the 2016 compliance year. Those SREs allow small refiners to be excused from their obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) if they can show meeting them would cause "disproportionate harm" to their survivability. The initial RFS included exemptions for these small refiners, those with an output of less than 75,000 barrels per day, through 2011. In the time from 2011 through 2015, typically less than 10 SREs were granted. The level of SREs applied for and granted exploded during the Trump administration, leading to the suit that eventually reached the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and finally the U.S. Supreme Court. The Tenth Circuit had invalidated the SREs granted for the 2016 compliance year by the Trump administration, ruling that in order for the refiners to be able to get the SREs for that year the had to have them continuously since 2011. Under the law, it said that the SREs could be extended. But that definition of extended was at the heart of the Tenth Circuit Court ruling. The refiners affected by the decision opted to elevate the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Biden administration in February announced they were now siding with the Tenth Circuit Court in its decision and that was expected to potentially add to the defense of the RFS in the Supreme Court session that heard the case in April. But that definition of "extension" was where the Supreme Court said the Tenth Circuit had erred. The majority opinion in the 6-3 case was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, who argued that even Congress will "extend" a program via legislation even after that program had lapsed. He also likened it to a study not meeting a deadline to turn in a report on a Friday and the teacher then allowing that student to turn the report in on Monday. The court did note that the term "extension" is not defined in the RFS and that it can mean "an increase in time." The Court said that the Tenth Circuit "erred" when it imposed the definition that the SREs had to have "unbroken continuity." The top court simply stated, "The plain meaning of 'extension' does not require unbroken continuity." Justice Amy Coney Barrett wrote the dissenting opinion and noted that even while the majority opinion sides with HollyFrontier on the definition of "extension," she noted the refiner "does not dispute that when used to refer to 'an increase in the length of time,' the word 'extension' can -- and commonly does -- refer to something that is prolonged without interruption." Just as Gorsuch used a real-world example in the majority opinion, Coney Barrett opted to do the same. "Consider a hotel guest who decides to spend a few more days on vacation. That guest likely would ask to 'extend [her] visit,'" Coney Barrett wrote. "Now suppose the same guest returns to the same hotel three years later and, upon arrival, requests to 'extend' her prior stay. The hotel employee would no doubt 'scratch her head.'" Observers on both sides of this issue believe refiners won in this case. And markets appeared to take the same view. The prices for Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), the biofuel credits that refiners can purchase to demonstrate compliance with the RFS if they do not blend enough biofuels to gasoline to meet those mandates, fell in the wake of the Court's decision. That alone could lower the costs for refiners to comply with the law. Recall that the suit also focuses on the "disproportionate" harm that these small refiners would face if they complied with the law. Now those compliance costs will be lower and reports indicated that refiners had backed out of the RIN market in recent weeks as they bet the Supreme Court would side with them. This, of course, raises questions on whether the reduced RIN prices now mean those refiners would no longer be facing "disproportionate harm" in complying with the law. And this further muddies the waters over the 50 SREs that are pending for the 2019 and 2020 compliance years, not to mention the 20 that were pending for the 2011-2018 compliance years as refiners sought to hedge their bets and apply for SREs in the prior years just in case the Supreme Court sided against them. Today, biofuel backers will be offering up their views on the Supreme Court ruling. They clearly will not be pleased. So we will see. This adds yet another layer onto what has become a controversial policy and one that is a key for agriculture and must be watched closely given the portion of corn and soybean production that goes to making biofuels, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 28, 2021 |


Reuters: Mexico Rejected Three Shipments From Smithfield Plant Before Delisting Mexican inspectors rejected three cargoes of pork skins from the Smithfield plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina, before delisting the plant relative to its ability to ship pork into Mexico June 16, according to a report from Reuters. Rava Forwarding was also delisted by Mexico June 18 and the country's health safety agency Senasica said Rava was the third-party company involved in the situation. Smithfield issued a statement last week after the delisting that issue was not linked to Smithfield or the Tar Heel plant but an unnamed third-party company. Reuters reported that Senasica said it rejected a shipment April 15 from the Tar Heel plan after inspectors observed rotting product covered with "yellowish spots." Two more rejections took place in June, the report said, which may have included a mix of product from both plants. Senasica said the decision to delist the two facilities was based on the "accumulation" of tainted cargoes of refrigerated pork skins. It is not clear how long the delisting will last, but it could take at least a few months, the agency said.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 28, 2021 |


House Appropriations Subcommittee Clears FY 2022 USDA/FDA/CFTC Funding The House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 spending plan covering USDA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The plan would boost discretionary spending by 1.3% to $26.6 billion compared with $23.4 billion in FY 2021. Total spending in the plan would be at $196.7 billion. Among provisions in the package is an increase for the ReConnect program that is aimed at expanding broadband service in rural communities. The plan would allocate $800 million for the effort, up from $635 million in FY 2021 and above the $700 million requested by the Biden administration. There is another $347.4 million that will go toward USDA programs on climate change. There were not major amendments or changes to the bill at the subcommittee level, but the markup set for June 30 by the House Appropriations Committee could see more activity.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 28, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders remain glued to the latest weather forecasts and will be checking rainfall amounts from over the weekend. USDA's weekly grain export inspections report is set for 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. Corn and soybean crop ratings will reflect the haves and have-nots of the latest rains and traders will also note wheat harvest progress. Weather A zone of scattered showers will continue along a stalled front from Texas through Michigan and may cause flooding on Monday, with scattered showers behind it across the rest of the Plains and Midwest. Regardless of flooding potential, the rains will disrupt the HRW wheat harvest. Additional flooding potential may occur in areas that received lots of rain this weekend in the Midwest, but the showers will be beneficial for developing corn and soybeans.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 25, 2021 |


Ag Groups Welcome Senate Passage of GSCA Agriculture groups responded favorably to the Senate passage of the Growing Climate Solutions Act Thursday. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall says, “We appreciate lawmakers putting aside their differences to work on bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing farmers and ranchers.” The legislation is supported by more than 75 agriculture, food, forestry and environmental groups that are part of the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance. AFBF says the legislation provides clarity and guidance for farmers, ranchers and forest landowners interested in voluntary participation in private carbon credit markets. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew says of the legislation, “It will be no small task to curtail this existential threat – but by leveraging the full potential of every sector, including agriculture, we have the ability to protect our planet.” Farm Credit Council President and CEO Todd Van Hoose calls the bill an “important step” to developing a voluntary, market-based system for carbon markets. *********************************************************************************** Farm Debt Declines Further and Credit Stress Eases Agricultural debt at commercial banks continued to decline in the first quarter of 2021, and farm loan performance improved. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank this week released the data that shows both real estate and production loans decreased, reducing farm debt by more than five percent from a year ago. The reduction in agricultural loan balances was less pronounced among banks most concentrated in agriculture, driven by modest growth in real estate debt. Delinquency rates on farm debt dropped notably from a year ago and, alongside strong earnings, profitability at agricultural banks improved from the end of last year. The outlook for agriculture remains strong heading into the summer months. However, increases in production costs and persistent drought in many regions lingered as concerns. And profitability for cattle producers remained narrow. Overall, strength in aggregate conditions and lasting support of government aid and lending programs have continued to limit increases in farm debt and ease agricultural credit stress. *********************************************************************************** Florida Judge Blocks Debt Relief for Minority Farmers A federal judge in Florida this week blocked the Department of Agriculture’s debt relief program for minority farmers. A white farmer in Florida challenged the program, facing farm loans and financial hardship during the pandemic. The farmer claims the debt relief program discriminated against him by race. A District Judge this week blocked the $4 billion program, ruling the farmer had established a “strong likelihood” of the policy violating his right to equal protection under the law, according to Reuters. A separate judge in Wisconsin granted a temporary restraining order on the program earlier this month. USDA is defending the debt relief program, saying USDA employees and programs have discriminated against socially disadvantaged farmers by denying loans and delaying payments. House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, A Black Democrat from Georgia, weighed in on the lawsuits earlier this week. Scott says, "I strongly support and thank Secretary Vilsack for standing up and fighting for this critical, urgent and much-needed legislation.” ************************************************************************************ Experimental Vaccine Protect Cattle from Johne’s Disease Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service Thursday announced a new experimental vaccine to protect cattle from the bacterium that causes Johne’s (yo-knee’s) disease. The disease is a chronic intestinal disorder that can cause diarrhea, weight loss, poor health and sometimes death in cattle. In the United States, Johne’s disease is most prevalent in dairy herds, costing the industry more than $220 million annually. Researchers created a so-called cocktail of four proteins from the bacteria to create the vaccine. Encouraged by test results with mice, the researchers scaled up their efforts to produce the four proteins and combine them into a single vaccine "cocktail" that could be administered to calves. Trials with dairy calves indicate the vaccine did not disappoint, rendering the young animals immune to the disease over the course of a year of monitoring. The researchers note the need for additional efficacy trials and welcome collaboration with an industry partner to further explore the patented vaccine cocktail's commercial potential. *********************************************************************************** USDA to Investing $10 Million to Support Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry The Department of Agriculture is providing $10 million to support climate-smart agriculture and forestry through voluntary conservation practices in ten targeted states. Available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the funding will help producers plan and implement voluntary conservation practices that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and mitigate climate change. Producers in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin can apply for the funding. Each state will determine its own signup period, with signups expected to begin on or around June 24 in most states. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, which administers EQIP, selected states based on demand for additional support for climate-smart practices. A USDA official states, “Farmers, ranchers and forest landowners are the best stewards of our lands and waters, and they play a critical role in climate change mitigation,” The pilot will be expanded across all states and programs in fiscal year 2022. ************************************************************************************ Biden Extends Moratorium of Residential Evictions in USDA Multifamily Housing Communities The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Thursday extended the moratorium on evictions of Americans who live in multifamily housing communities supported by the Department of Agriculture. The extension grants the moratorium through July 31, 2021. USDA Rural Development undersecretary Justin Maxson says the action gives tenants at USDA-supported properties “essential relief while the Department extends the emergency rental assistance provided by the American Rescue Plan Act.” Beyond July 31, 2021, USDA will continue to offer emergency assistance to USDA multifamily housing property owners and tenants who are experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic. USDA’s Multi-Family Housing Programs provide affordable multifamily rental housing in rural areas by financing projects geared for very-low-income families, the elderly, people with disabilities, and domestic farmworkers. USDA also extends assistance through loan guarantees for affordable rental housing for very-low- to moderate-income residents in rural areas and towns. Additionally, USDA provides grants to organizations to repair or rehabilitate housing for eligible families.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 25, 2021 |


Washington Insider: More Pressure on China Over Forced Labor The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) on silica-based products made by Hoshine Silicon Industry based in Xinjiang, China, and its subsidiaries. “This WRO is based on information reasonably indicating that Hoshine used forced labor to manufacture silica-based products,” CBP said. “As a result, personnel at all U.S. ports of entry have been instructed to immediately begin detaining shipments that contain silica-based products made by Hoshine or materials and goods derived from or produced using those silica-based products.” This means that all of those products made by Hoshine will be stopped at the U.S. border and held by CBP. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) announced that Hoshine Silicon Industry (Shanshan) Co., Ltd., Xinjiang Daqo New Energy Co., Ltd., Xinjiang East Hope Nonferrous Metals Co., Ltd., Xinjiang GCL New Energy Material Technology Co., Ltd., and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) have been added to the U.S. Entity List, saying they were for “accepting or utilizing forced labor in the implementation of the People's Republic of China's campaign of repression against Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.” The WRO does not cover all silica products from China, but indications are that CBP could be collecting information that could lead to a broader application of the WRO. They followed that pattern previously relative to cotton and tomatoes and tomato products, originally targeting just the products from the XPCC and later they broadened it to all products from Xinjiang. The South China Morning Post downplayed the potential impact on Hoshine, quoting Peng Peng, general secretary with the China New Energy Investment and Financing Alliance, as saying the U.S. market for Chinese solar panels is not that big. However, she also noted there were few alternatives outside of China for the products -- China produces about 76% of the world's polysilicon, with production bases mainly in Xinjiang, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Sichuan province and Yunnan province. "I believe Chinese companies have been preparing for any U.S. sanctions since the trade war began. So, we need to think next about how to counter the U.S. sanctions by swapping the origin of production, by shifting orders within China," she said. Predictably, the reaction within China has been critical of the U.S. actions. Commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng repeated the Chinese stance that the “so-called forced labor issue” in Xinjiang is “completely contrary to the facts.” Gao also said the U.S. is “again using its state power to practice protectionism and bullying in the name of so-called human rights, which seriously damages the international economic and trade order and poses a serious threat to the security of the global supply chain.” From China's Foreign Ministry, spokesman Zhao Lijian said, China will “make necessary responses to resolutely safeguard its own interests.” The pressure on China is clearly rising from the U.S., but what is of even greater concern for China is if European countries follow suit. That could create even more potential pressure on China and Chinese businesses if they are blocked out of the EU market. Already, some companies in Europe have opted to include provisions in contracts that require proof that no Xinjiang forced-labor cotton is involved in textiles or clothing items. That may be a tough task, but the fact companies are doing so is a clear signal that the issue is not going away. So we will see. If the pressure mounts on China, their warnings of “protecting their interests” could take several forms, including actions against imports of U.S. products, something which needs to be closely watched, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 25, 2021 |


No Conclusions From Senate Hearing On Cattle Market The Senate Agriculture Committee explored the issue of U.S. cattle markets and as expected, did not come to any conclusions about what needs to be done to address market conditions. The panel heard testimony from cattlemen and academics who focused on the need for price discovery improvements with some pushing for livestock price reporting requirements to be tweaked to improve market clarity. There was also considerable discussion about processing capacity in the U.S., with lawmakers hearing about the costs involved in setting up new slaughter facilities. This is why Senate Agriculture Chair Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., will take more time for the industry to reach agreement, something that will take a major effort and time. Expect any plan from Congress to likely come about later rather than sooner given the breadth of issues.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 25, 2021 |


Federal Judge Halts Socially Disadvantaged Farmer Debt Relief A Federal judge in Florida has issued a preliminary injunction that halts the implementation of the program to provide debt forgiveness to socially disadvantaged farmers. U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard halted the program, saying it does not do away with racial discrimination. “Congress also must heed its obligation to do away with governmentally imposed discrimination based on race,” Morales Howard said. “It appears that in adopting Section 1005's strict race-based debt relief remedy Congress moved with great speed to address the history of discrimination, but did not move with great care.” The provision referenced by the judge would have USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) pay up to 120% of direct and guaranteed loan outstanding balances as of January 1, 2021, for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. However, the judge indicated that USDA could still continue preparations to deliver the debt relief until the program is found “constitutionally permissible.” The program had already been on hold die to a separate restraining order in Wisconsin, but this Florida decision is seen as a nationwide suspension of the program. The suit in Florida was brought by white farmer Scott Wynn who said he had federal farm loans and could not apply for the debt forgiveness as he was white.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 25, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending for May is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for June at 9 a.m. Traders will be watching the latest weather forecasts and maps of actual rain amounts. USDA's cattle on feed report for June 1 is due out at 2 p.m. CDT. Weather Heavy rain fell across southern Iowa and northern Missouri on Thursday and that trend looks to continue to spread across the much of the Corn Belt and Plains on Friday. Moderate to heavy rain is expected for many areas, disrupting the wheat harvest but benefiting developing corn and soybeans where flooding does not occur. The Northern Plains will see some showers moving through but amounts will be much lighter, while Minnesota largely stays dry for another day.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 24, 2021 |


R-CALF: Concentration and Globalization Behind Cattle Market Issues As the Senate Agriculture Committee focused on potential cattle market manipulation Wednesday, R-CALF USA says concentration and globalization are the core problems. Separate from the committee hearing, R-CALF submitted comments to USDA this week responding to a request for input on transforming America’s food system. R-CALF, short for The Ranchers Cattlemen Action Legal Fund United Stockgrowers of America, points out four multinational beef packers control 85 percent of the fed cattle market and 80 percent of the boxed beef market. The comments explain, “they have now consolidated their control over both the supply side and demand side.” To address this, R-CALF’s first recommendation for reversing the effects of globalization is to require all beef sold in America to be labeled with a country-of-origin label. Doing so, R-CALF says, consumers can begin making purchasing choices between foreign beef and domestic beef. The comments include nearly 30 separate recommendations to strengthen the domestic cattle and beef supply chains. *********************************************************************************** Republicans Launch Conservative Climate Caucus House Republicans Wednesday launched the Conservative Climate Caucus. The caucus includes more than 50 representatives from every committee with jurisdiction over climate policy and various ranking members. Utah Representative John Curtis chairs the caucus, stating, “We do care about climate – and we already have solutions and plan to find more.” The goal of the Conservative Climate Caucus is to bring members of the Republican party together to educate each other on climate policies that will make progress on reducing emissions through American innovation and resources. In a news release, Curtis says proposals to reduce emissions and be good stewards of the earth do not have to hurt the American economy, adding, “There is a way to lower global emissions without sacrificing American jobs and principles.” A webpage describing the caucus states that with innovative technologies, fossil fuels can and should be a major part of the global solution, adding, “reducing emissions is the goal, not reducing energy choices.” *********************************************************************************** Senators Introduce the Define WOTUS Act Senate Republicans from Iowa, Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, and Indiana's Mike Braun introduced the Define WOTUS Act this week. The bill legislatively defines "waters of the United States," and makes a definition of the term permanent. Grassley and Ernst recently sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to express concerns over the Biden administration's decision to roll back the previous administration's Navigable Waters Protection rule. Grassley states, "Adding more federal red tape for home builders during construction or to a farmer's day-to-day decisions on the farm is government overreach." Braun of Indiana says, "Farmers and families need a reasonable, practical definition for WOTUS, and that’s why Congress should do its job and define the law.” The EPA earlier this month announced intent to rewrite the Navigable Waters Protection rule. American Farm Bureau’s Don Parrish said at the time, “this is not a fight about protecting water quality, because the Navigable Waters Protection rule does that, this is a fight over land use.” ************************************************************************************ USDA Invests $185 Million to Improve Rural Community Facilities The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced funding for rural facilities and essential services in rural America. USDA is investing $185 million to equip, rebuild, and modernize essential services in rural areas of 32 states, benefiting three million rural residents. Specifically, USDA is investing in 233 projects through the Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program. Of these, 74 awards, totaling $4 million, will help communities with their long-term recovery efforts following natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and tornadoes. USDA Rural Development undersecretary Justin Maxson says, “These loans and grants will help rural communities invest in facilities and services that are vital.” More than 100 types of projects are eligible for Community Facilities funding. Eligible applicants include municipalities, public bodies, nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Native American tribes. Projects must be in rural areas with a population of 20,000 or less. To learn more about Community Facilities Program funding opportunities, contact a USDA Rural Development state office. *********************************************************************************** Britain Begins Talks to Join CPTPP Britain is negotiating to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. Talks began earlier this week to join the trade deal Britain sees crucial to its post-Brexit pivot away from Europe, according to Reuters. The CPTPP agreement removes 95 percent of tariffs between its members, including Japan, Canada, Mexico and others. While joining the agreement won't significantly increase exports for Britain, it will lock in market access, and increases market influence. Reuters points out Britain will need to demonstrate it can meet the existing members' standards on tariff removal and trade liberalization, and provide clear details on how and when it will do so. The United States left the trade agreement, then known only as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, during the Trump administration. However, during his campaign, President Joe Biden expressed the possibility of renegotiating and rejoining the CPTPP, but has yet to announce any plans to do so. ************************************************************************************ Farmers Union Opposes Longer Mail Delivery Times A proposal to permanently slow down First-Class Mail delivery would be “catastrophic” for family farmers, according to the National Farmers Union. NFU submitted comments this week to the U.S. Postal Service on the proposal. Currently, First-Class mail is supposed to be delivered within a one- to three-day time frame. However, in an effort to cut costs, USPS has proposed extending that range to five days. NFU contends that because rural areas often lack both services like banks, pharmacies, polling places, and supply stores as well as access to broadband internet and private delivery services, residents disproportionately depend on USPS to receive medication, vote, communicate with friends and family, cash checks, and conduct business. NFU says the delay would be particularly detrimental for packages containing time-sensitive materials such as live animals, perishable foods, ballots, and prescription medications. The proposal, according to the NFU filed comments, could put “rural businesses and livelihoods at risk.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 24, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Supreme Court Decision on Farm Access The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a California regulation that allows union organizers to enter ag properties without the employer's consent violated their property rights. The nation's top court issued the decision with a 6-3 vote, the conservative judges voting in the affirmative while the three liberal judges dissented. Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company brought the suit against the decades-old California regulation, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board regulation that has been in place since 1975. That regulation allowed union organizers with notice to the regulators and employer, to enter agricultural premises to talk to workers for three non-working hours per day during four 30-day periods each year. The reg does not require the organizers to get the approval from the employer, only that they have to notify the employer. The court ruled that the regulation is essentially equivalent to the government taking private property for public use without justification, in violation with the Constitution's Fifth Amendment. "The access regulation grants labor organizations a right to invade the growers' property. It therefore constitutes a per se physical taking," Chief Justice John Roberts said in the majority opinion. But those on the minority argued differently, with Justice Stephen Breyer stating that the union activity was only temporary in nature. "The regulation does not appropriate anything. It does not take from the owners a right to invade (whatever that might mean)," Breyer wrote. "Most such temporary-entry regulations do not go 'too far.' And it is impractical to compensate every property owner for any brief use of their land.” The case was elevated to the Supreme Court after the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the challenge brought by the companies after organizers at Cedar's property had disrupted work with bullhorns while Fowler had denied access to the property by union organizers. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the rule did not rise to the level of being an unconstitutional taking because of the temporary nature of the action. The California Supreme Court upheld the rules on a 4-to-3 vote in 1976, and the provisions have gone unchallenged until now. Breyer also said that on remand to lower courts, California at least should have the chance to compensate the growers as that would then allow the union organizers to maintain access. However, the growers want the regulation to end. Those seeking to keep the regulation in place argued that the matter was not a taking and that ending the regulation could allow landowners to bar access to their property by federal food inspectors and potentially others, even law enforcement. But Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, pointed out in an op-ed item in The Hill that the court ruling “does not mean all government-mandated entry on private property qualifies as a taking. The court lists several exceptions to its general rule, including most 'health and safety' inspections, and enforcement of regulations that bar owners from violating common law rights of others (as by creating a nuisance).” He noted the health and safety inspections are “conditions for the conferral of various government benefits.” But the scope of those exceptions, Simon said, “isn't entirely clear and will likely be a subject of future litigation.” But what the Supreme Court has done is upheld the rights of property owners. And that is something that agricultural property owners have fought to keep intact. Those arguments have prevailed in other cases and now again this time around. So we will see. As Somin points out, there will likely be other challenges ahead, and that means these potential cases in the futures bear watching closely by agriculture, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 24, 2021 |


Biofuel Supporters Keep on Message in Senate Hearing A Senate Agriculture subcommittee Tuesday examined issues on renewable energy and the U.S. rural economy, with the panel hearing a consistent message from supporters of biofuels -- using biofuels can contribute to the Biden administration's goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. Emily Skor of Growth Energy stressed that accurate modeling on ethanol's lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions was a key need so that the fuel gets proper credit for its benefits over straight gasoline. “Important for us is that you have a modeling that reflects the most current science and reflects all of the innovation that's taking place, not only at the plant, but also on the field,” she stated. She also said that a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) is something the ethanol industry supports, but said it has to be technology neutral and be science-based. As for refiner contentions that compliance costs relative to their Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) obligations have risen so high that their survivability is in question, Skor said, “There is no correlation to the price of complying with the RFS and refinery profits. This is something that has been affirmed by many experts, including the EPA several times.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 24, 2021 |


Biden, Vilsack Going To Wisconsin Next Week President Joe Biden and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack will be in Wisconsin on Tuesday June 29 to discuss agriculture and rural economies, according to the White House. Dairy is likely to figure high on the list of issues that will be focused on with the administration having announced additional aid will be coming to the sector over the next 60 days. But there has been little detail on the aid plans as of yet. However, the expectation is that as Biden and Vilsack visit the nation's key dairy state, there will be some kind of policy announcement forthcoming as Wisconsin is viewed as a potential battleground state in the 2022 midterm elections.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 24, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, the same time as weekly U.S. jobless claims, an update of first quarter U.S. GDP and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly natural gas inventory report is set for 9:30 a.m. CDT. Traders remain closely tied to the latest weather forecasts. Weather A complex of moderate rain was situated from Iowa through eastern Kansas early Thursday morning. This cluster should diminish this morning as it continues east, but more rain is on the way for the Plains and western Midwest Thursday as a system develops along a cold front. Some of these storms could be severe across the Kansas-Nebraska border region east and northeast into Wisconsin and Illinois.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 23, 2021 |


Senators Want Reasons for Replacing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule West Virginia Republican Senator Shelly Moore Capito (CAP-ih-toe) and several Republican colleagues want to know why the Biden EPA decided to replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. Capito, the Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, says, “After the administration’s continued commitments to transparency, engagement, and communication with stakeholders and Congress on this issue, the lack of transparency surrounding the decision to abandon this legally defensible and environmentally sound rule is disheartening.” The Republican Senators point out that on a briefing call after announcing the decision to replace the rule, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Corps of Engineers made several assertions as justification for the move. The agencies say the decision was based on “significant environmental damage” and “ongoing environmental harm,” as well as several implementation challenges. “To date, the limited details provided to support those assertions has contributed to only greater uncertainty for Congress, the states, and regulated entities,” the letter continues. “The agencies haven’t provided a complete analysis to back their assertions.” *********************************************************************************************** Brazil Corn Harvest Forecast Drops Over Eight Percent Brazilian farmers will harvest just under 94 million tons of corn this season. A Reuters poll of ten harvest forecasters indicates a fall of 8.5 percent from the last forecast due to a severe drought. Second-crop corn failure will lead to higher imports and lower exports of the crop. The forecasters say Brazil, home to some of the world’s largest meat processors, will need to keep the grain to make it livestock feed. One agribusiness consultant cut her corn export forecast to 22.5 million tons, down from a previous prediction of 32 million tons, and told Reuters she estimates Brazilian corn import needs may reach four million tons. If the dry weather persists, corn yields may fall even further in some of the key corn-producing states in Brazil. In April, a Reuters poll of 11 forecasters predicted a record corn crop of 107 million tons, but poor weather during the development stage damaged that prospect. Brazil’s second-corn crop, which gets planted after the country’s soybeans get harvested at the end of Brazil’s summertime, has been hit hardest by a lack of rainfall. *********************************************************************************************** Farm Bank Lending Stay Strong in 2020 Despite a global slowdown in 2020 brought on by COVID-19, agricultural lending by U.S. farm banks remained strong at $98.6 billion, just a 1.8 percent drop from the prior year. The American Bankers Association’s annual Farm Bank Performance Report attributes the change to a 6.7 percent decline in agricultural production loans. By contrast, the outstanding loans secured by farmland increased 2.1 percent to $56.7 billion. The report says rising costs, supply and production bottlenecks, price volatility, and a significant increase in federal cash payments depressed demand for agricultural production loans in 2020. Government payments also helped producers pay down existing loan balances. The Chief Economist for the ABA says American farm banks have remained healthy over the past year and continue to play a critical role in supporting farmers and the broader U.S. economy through the turbulence of 2020. The report also says the strong asset quality and capital levels of America’s farm banks will help ensure that they continue to provide support to rural communities. Farm banks also continued to build strong capital reserves throughout 2020 and are well-insulated from risks associated with the agriculture sector. Equity increased nine percent to $52.6 billion. ********************************************************************************************** Colorado Supreme Court Blocks Livestock Measure The Supreme Court in Colorado blocked a statewide ballot initiative that would have expanded animal cruelty regulations from appearing on the November 2022 ballot. The Supreme Court says the initiative advances two subjects in its language, violating the state’s single-subject requirement for state statutes. Center Square Dot Com says the proposed ballot measure is called Initiative 16 and would impose new restrictions on animal husbandry that required ranchers to wait at least one-quarter of an animal’s life before sending it to slaughter. Ranchers in violation of the measure may have been charged with a crime. The measure would also have expanded the statutory definition of animal cruelty to include artificial insemination and other penetrations, “however slight.” The court says that the two subjects invite a “potential for the very kind of surprise that the single-subject requirement seeks to guard against.” Voters may not understand that what is called a livestock initiative would also affect the care of all animals or vice versa. Initiative 16 was approved by the state’s Title Board in late April and immediately drew the wrath of rural communities and the state’s agricultural community. *********************************************************************************************** NBB Highlights Policy Priorities in Letter to Congress The National Biodiesel Board delivered a letter to Congress signed by more than 50 companies outlining the industry’s policy priorities. The priorities include maintaining tax incentives for low carbon biofuels, supporting infrastructure to deliver more clean fuels to consumers, and optimizing the Renewable Fuel Standard to maximize environmental benefits. “As Congress develops legislation to address the nation’s infrastructure, climate, and economic priorities, we ask that you support the continued growth of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry,” they say in the letter. “U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel producers are meeting America’s need for better, cleaner transportation fuels right now. We are also generating economic, environmental, and health benefits for many states and communities.” The letter highlights the $17 billion annual economic impact of the biodiesel and renewable diesel industries employ more than 65,000 Americans. It also highlights the carbon benefits the industry delivers. Last year, the U.S. used three billion gallons of renewable diesel and biodiesel, which achieved an average 74 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to petroleum diesel. The NBB is hosting a virtual Advocacy Day Fly-In today (Wednesday). ********************************************************************************************** FSA Accepting Nominations for County Committee Members The Farm Service Agency is accepting nominations for county committee members. Nomination forms for the 2021 election must be postmarked or received by the local FSA office by August 2. Elections will take place in certain Local Administrative Areas for these members who’ll make important decisions about how federal farm programs are administered locally. “We need enthusiastic, diverse leaders to serve other agricultural producers locally on FSA County Committees,” says FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux. “Just as our nation’s agriculture industry is diverse from coast to coast, so are the viewpoints and experiences that you can represent on your local committee.” He also says now is the time to step up and truly make an impact on how federal farm programs are administered at the local level to reach all producers fairly and equitably. Producers who participate or cooperate in a USDA program and reside in the LAA that’s up for election this year may be nominated for candidacy for the county committee. Around the nation, more than 7,700 dedicated members of the agricultural community are serving on FSA county committees.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 23, 2021 |


Washington Insider: China Port Woes Backing Up Global Shipping Shipping issues have again roiled the global transportation market, with impacts emanating from one area of the world -- China. This time, the bottlenecks in China and not the Suez Canal. While global demand for goods produced in Asia is one factor, the New York Times reported that problems in the third largest container port in the world of Shenzhen is making the problems even worse. "The shipping delays are related to the Chinese government's stringent response to a recent outbreak of the virus," the Times said. "Shenzhen, with a population of more than 12 million, has had fewer than two dozen locally transmitted coronavirus cases; city health officials have linked them to the Alpha variant, which was first identified in Britain." What is key is that the China has ordered testing of all 230,000 that live hear the Yantian container port where the first case was found May 21. But what is really snarling the system? Contact between port employees and sailors has been banned. "The city has required port employees to live in 216 hastily erected, prefabricated buildings at the docks instead of going home to their families every day," the Time said. The situation has resulted in the port capacity to handle containers being very strained, still at 30% below its capacity as of last week. State media in China has said that it could take the rest of the month before a full recovery can be seen. However, the times quoted Tim Huxley, the chairman of Mandarin Shipping which is based in Hong Kong, it could take the rest of the year to short out all the shipping delays at Yantian and elsewhere. Already, scores of ships have been anchored off Shenzhen and Hong Kong with wait times to get to the dock at 16 days for the Yantian container port. While the Yantian port had halted loading export containers for six days early in June, the problems have continued. The situation is now causing global delays similar to those seen in the Suez Canal situation where the Ever Given ran aground and blocked shipping for a week. This has sent shipping rates skyrocketing. "The average cost of shipping a 40-foot container from East Asia to Europe or North America has roughly quadrupled in the past year," the Times noted. "Rates have soared this month with the Yantian difficulties." Within China there are also impacts being seen. The Shenzhen Daily reported that an international logistics company in the Yantian District was hit by the delays and it faced penalties and fines for the delays at the port. The China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) Shenzhen issued a proof letter of limited service at the port, which the report said lessened the company's liability for the delay; CCPIT Shenzhen said that it has handled 2,022 business-related proof documents, the report noted. The Suez Canal situation backed up a lot of container shipping around the globe and now the situation in China is expected to further delay a return to normal. But even as shipping issues wane there is still the matter of getting cargoes unloaded at destination ports like Los Angeles or Long Beach. The strains on the ports there are from the heavy volume of containers arriving which is taxing systems to move those goods from the port inland. Similar situations are being reported in China as getting goods onloaded and offloaded has become a challenge. This is one more challenge for agricultural exports. Containers have already become a bottleneck issue for agriculture, with the Federal Maritime Commission opening an investigation into companies opting to ship empty containers back to China and other Asian destinations so that they can more quickly return with goods in demand from U.S. consumers. But this latest snag in China has probably greatly reduced the benefit that shippers expected to reap by not hauling ag cargoes. So we will see. Agricultural interests may feel somewhat relieved that they might not be as impacted as they could otherwise be, but it still represents the challenges that the increasing focus on U.S. ag exports. And the shipping situation is one that bears watching closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 23, 2021 |


Two US Facilities Delisted From Exporting To Mexico USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said that the Smithfield Foods plant at Tar Heel, North Carolina, and the Rava Forwarding facility in Laredo, Texas, have been delisted as plants eligible to ship products to Mexico. FSIS said the Smithfield facility was delisted June 16 relative to slaughter, boning, cut up, grinding, and processing pork, while the Rava Forwarding cold storage facility was delisted June 18. The facility is listed as cold storage for beef, poultry, pork, bison, sheep and wild game. The Smithfield situation involved Mexican concerns over quality of a specific lot of hog skins sold to a third-party company that were eventually exported to Mexico, according to Keira Lombardo, Smithfield chief administrative officer. "We have conducted a thorough internal inquiry and have determined that the issue originates with the third-party company, not with Smithfield nor the facility," Lombardo said. Reuters reported that Mexico's health safety agency Senasica was reviewing the matter.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 23, 2021 |


Republicans on Senate Panel Seek More Explanation From EPA On WOTUS Republican members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee are asking EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the review the agencies said was conducted which prompted them to conclude that the Trump administration's Navigable Waters Protection Rule needed to be repealed and replaced. "After the administration's continued commitments to transparency, engagement, and communication with stakeholders and Congress on this issue, the lack of transparency surrounding the decision to abandon this legally defensible and environmentally sound rule is disheartening," the lawmakers said in the letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan and acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jaime Pinkham. The lawmakers said the administration has not provided its analysis to back up their claims the Trump-era rule caused "significant environmental damage" and "ongoing environmental harm" and that it faced "implementation challenges." They are asking for specifics of the harm, damage and implementation issues and information on the 333 projects that did not require a permit under the Trump rule but would have under the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. The lawmakers are seeking a response by July 5.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 21, 2021 |


Refiners Over One Billion Dollars Short on RINs U.S. refiners are short on $1.6 billion worth of credits they need to comply with U.S. biofuel laws. Reuters reviewed corporate earnings disclosures to come up with that total. The big liability comes as the Biden Administration considers potential relief for oil refiners from biofuel mandates. Refiners say they need the relief because of soaring credit costs and the economic hardship brought on by COVID-19 that’s hurt the industry. RIN prices are higher since the start of 2021 because of higher feedstock costs and market uncertainty. RINs were trading at the highest price since the program began 13 years ago. Prices have dropped 50 cents since hitting a recent high of $2 a credit. If the Biden administration grants some relief from the mandates, refiners may not need to fulfill all their obligations. Some lawmakers and refining industry representatives have requested help for the industry. The White House hasn’t said what actions President Biden will take to relieve refiners of their obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Considering Tougher Organic Livestock Rules Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the Biden Administration will reconsider the Trump Administration’s interpretation of the Organic Foods Production Act. The Trump administration said the Act doesn’t authorize USDA to regulate the practices that were the subject under the 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule. “I have directed the National Organic Program to begin a rulemaking to address this statutory interpretation and to include a proposal to disallow the use of porches as outdoor space in organic poultry production over time,” Vilsack says. “The rulemaking will also include other topics that were the subject of the OLPP final rule.” The secretary also says they anticipate sending the proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget within six to nine months from the date of the remand. “We look forward to receiving public comments on those topics and, after reviewing those comments, USDA will publish a final rule,” he adds. *********************************************************************************************** Wheat Growers Applaud Further Resolution in U.S., UK Dispute U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers welcomed the announcement that the United Kingdom and the U.S. dropped competing tariffs. The two sides agreed to a five-year moratorium on retaliatory tariffs for large civil aircraft subsidies. This break suspends retaliatory tariffs the UK had in place on non-durum U.S. wheat imports. The long-running dispute at the World Trade Organization allowed the UK and the EU the right to impose tariffs on non-durum U.S. wheat imports, which mainly impacted hard red spring and some hard red winter wheat. “The wheat industry is thankful to President Biden and Ambassador Tai’s commitment to prioritize the trade relationships between the United States, European Union, and now the United Kingdom,” says Wheat Growers CEO Chandler Goule. “Each five-year truce with the U.K. and the European Union removes a significant trade barrier on wheat exports and provides long-term certainty for wheat growers in the Upper Midwest.” Wheat Associates President Vince Peterson is hopeful that this agreement provides the basis for an open dialogue on trade that will pre-empt the use of retaliatory tariffs in the still unresolved steel and aluminum dispute between the U.S. and the UK. ********************************************************************************************** Rural Bankers Say Local Economies are Stronger For the seventh month in a row, the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index stayed above growth neutral. The overall index is still strong at 70, falling almost nine points from May’s record high of 78.8. The index ranges from zero to 100, with 50 being growth neutral. That comes from a monthly survey of bank CEOs in rural areas of a 10-state region that depends on agriculture and energy. Approximately 46 percent of bank CEOs report their local economy expanded between May and June. “Strong grain prices, the Fed’s record-low interest rates, and growing exports have underpinned the rural main street economy,” says Ernie Goss of Creighton University, who oversees the index. He did say that several bankers raised future concerns. Steve Simon, CEO of the South Story Bank in Iowa, says, “Continued dry conditions will start to have an effect on markets and crops soon” For the ninth straight month, the farmland price index advanced significantly above growth neutral. The June farmland index slipped lower but is still strong at 75.9. The June Farm Equipment Sales Index rose to 71.6, the highest level since 2012. *********************************************************************************************** Lamb Board Hosts Zoom Cooking Class to Showcase Lamb Almost 150 home cooks attended a recent virtual cooking class put on by the American Lamb Board. Educating consumers on using American lamb in their home kitchens is a big part of the board’s efforts to grow the industry. For the Zoom class, the lamb board teamed up with Homemade, a partner of the nature conservancy that offers weekly cooking classes and an earth-friendly blog. Class participants joined chef Joel Gamoran (GAM-eh-ron), the host of A & E’s hit series “Scraps” in making a Lamb Bahn (Bon) Mi (me) burger, which is a Vietnam take on the classic American burger. The dish uses ground lamb mixed with garlic, ginger, fish sauce, honey, lime, and a side of pickled vegetables. Besides his TV series, Gamoran is a regular on NBC’s Today Show, where he showcases recipes that promote environmental sustainability to a worldwide audience. Participants in the online session received a recipe booklet with outdoor cooking American Lamb recipes and an insulated reusable grocery bag from ALB. The cooking class is also a part of the Lamb Board’s Outdoor Cooking Adventures Campaign, which challenges consumers to showcase their outdoor cooking prowess with American lamb. ********************************************************************************************** Dairy Checkoff Launches Monthly Podcast National and local dairy checkoff organizations are working together to get into podcasting. They’ve launched a monthly program called “Your Dairy Checkoff,” which will showcase how checkoff programs across the country are working together to build dairy sales and trust in today’s changing marketplace. Each episode will be hosted by dairy farmers or industry experts. Listeners will hear conversations focusing on local, national, and global dairy promotion, including consumer research, dairy nutrition, as well as science and issues updates. Farmers will have a hand in the selection of topics by providing feedback. “The dairy checkoff is excited to take advantage of increasingly popular podcast programming to share examples of how the dairy promotion organizations are working together to deliver results for us,” says Missouri dairy farmer Alex Peterson, who serves as Chair of the National Dairy Promotion and Research Board. The first episode is called “Reaching Gen Z: Through the World of Gaming,” and it features a conversation about how the checkoff is looking to online video gaming to reach this consumer segment, which is 10 to 23 years old.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 21, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Confirming an Administration The process of building a new administration takes time, especially when you consider there are some 4,000 politically appointed positions that need filled each time a new administration takes office in Washington. Of those 4,000, there are more than 1,200 that the U.S. Senate has to confirm. The Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service have been tracking the nominees for about 795 of the 1,200 positions requiring Senate confirmation -- include Cabinet secretaries, chief financial officers, general counsels and scores of sub-Cabinet roles that are key in the process of operating the government. As of mid-June, President Joe Biden has seen 67 confirmed into those positions, putting him ahead of President Donald Trump, but still lacking the pace seen under the presidencies of Barack Obama and George W Bush. As for Cabinet nominees, Biden actually moved quicker than either Trump or Obama as they took nearly a month longer to get officials confirmed into those roles. And, the Post notes, “Biden is the first president in decades to secure those picks without a failed nominee, despite an evenly divided Senate.” All of Biden's Cabinet picks were confirmed before April. But it hasn't been a controversy-free run for Biden, either. The White House withdrew the nomination of Neera Tanden to head up the Office of Management and Budget was withdrawn after facing bipartisan opposition. She is the highest profile pick that has not made it through, but the White House opted to pull the nomination rather than have it be defeated in the Senate. There are several agencies where there have been no nominations made. At the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, only Katherine Tai has been confirmed out of at least four positions that require Senate confirmation. Sarah Biachi's nomination to be a deputy USTR was sent to the Senate May 27 and nomination of Jayme White as another deputy USTR was sent forward June 9. Both had been announced as nominees April 16. But no nominee has either been announced or sent to the Senate for the combined post of Deputy USTR and representative to the WTO and key for agriculture, no nominee as the chief U.S. ag negotiator has been announced. But Trump did not send the nomination of Gregg Doud to that role until June 19, 2017, and the Senate Ag Committee favorably reported out the nomination October 24 of that year. It took until March 1, 2018, before Doud was confirmed to the role. At USDA, Tom Vilsack was announced as Biden's pick as Agriculture Secretary December 8, with the nomination sent forward January 20. The Senate Ag Committee reported out the nomination February 2 -- the same day as his confirmation hearing -- and the Senate confirmed Vilsack to the role February 23. Trump named Sonny Perdue as his pick to run USDA on January 17, 2017, with the nomination sent to the Senate Ag Committee March 9 and he was reported favorably out of the panel March 30. He was confirmed April 24, 2017. But few have joined Vilsack at USDA so far, with only Jewell Bronaugh confirmed May 13 as deputy secretary, the number two spot at the agency. So far, Robert Bonnie has been nominated to be undersecretary for farm production and conservation, with his nomination reaching the Senate April 27. No hearing date has been set. But barring a major setback, he should be in the role quicker than his Trump predecessor, Bill Northey, whose nomination took until September 2017 to be announced and sent to the Senate and the Senate Ag Committee reported his nomination out October 18 of that year. But he did not win full Senate okay until February 27, 2018, as holds were placed on his nomination. But there has been no one named for undersecretary for trade and foreign agricultural affairs so far in the Biden administration, a post that Vilsack declared an important one during his confirmation hearing. Ironically, that post was created in the 2014 Farm Bill while Vilsack was heading USDA for the Obama administration, yet he never filled that role. Ted McKinney held the post in the Trump administration after being nominated June 2017, referred to the Senate Ag Committee in August, with the panel favorably reporting out his nomination October 2 and the Senate cleared him October 3. The Biden administration has named Jennifer Moffitt as undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, a seemingly key post in this administration given their focus on market concentration. Her nomination was sent to the Senate Ag Committee April 28, a day after it was announced. But no action beyond that has taken place. Somewhat surprisingly, there has not been a pick for assistant secretary for civil rights so far by the Biden team. But that post went unfilled for the four years Trump held office. Sometimes the slowness is getting individuals willing to take the role. Other times, it has been the first or even second choices not being able to make it through the confirmation process. And several Trump nominees that had been lingering at the end of the term of Congress that started with Trump's time in office were sent back to the White House after not being acted on. And some of those nominations were never sent forward again to the Senate. So we will see. Getting an administration fully staffed can take typically years, at least relative to those positions that require Senate confirmation. But those positions are key for the operations of a host of USDA functions that directly affect farmers so the progress on this front needs to be closely watched, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 21, 2021 |


China Focus on Commodity Prices Continues China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on Thursday unveiled new rules for the management of commodity price indices “as part of its ongoing efforts to curb unreasonable price swings and maintain stable prices in the commodity market,” according to a report on the announcement by China Daily. The new rules take effect August 1 and require those providing price indices to be “independent of the direct stakeholders in the commodity and service markets covered by the index, and the basic information of the index providers, the index compiling plan and other necessary information should be fully disclosed,” the report said, noting that authorities “can conduct compliance reviews and take disciplinary measure for noncompliance.” Meng Wei, spokesperson for the NDRC, said the agency will “also work with relevant parties to release batches of (reserves) in a timely manner for some time to come, to increase the market supply, ease the strain on enterprises costs and guide the prices to return to a reasonable range.” She noted that efforts to far to address unreasonable and rapid commodity price rises this year “have taken the heat out of market speculation” and that prices for items like iron ore, steel and copper have started to return to more-normal levels. But she also issued what can be read as a clear warning to market participants: “The NDRC will closely monitor changes in the market, strengthen regulation of both futures and spot markets and maintain the normal order of the market.”

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 21, 2021 |


USDA To Reinstate Animal Welfare Standards On Organic Meat USDA will be reinstating standards for animal welfare on farms that produce organic meat, standards that were withdrawn by the Trump administration. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA will “reconsider the prior Administration's interpretation that the Organic Foods Production Act does not authorize USDA to regulate the practices that were the subject of the 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule,” including meaningful outdoor access for organic chickens and other animal welfare improvements. The plan had been on public review at the Federal Register, but has since been removed (along with scores of other items on the public inspection list) due to the Juneteenth Holiday. Presumably, it means the organic rule and others will be placed back on public inspection Monday and likely would be published Tuesday in the Federal Register.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 21, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets No doubt, traders will be hawking the latest weather forecasts Sunday evening and Monday morning and may pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. USDA's weekly grain export inspections are due out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. Given the hot and mostly dry past seven days, USDA's crop condition ratings are expected to be lower Monday. The CFTC's Commitments of Traders report will also be released Monday afternoon. Weather Rains from a system over the weekend will continue to develop along a front from the Southern Plains to the eastern Midwest and continue to push southeast through the day. The rain has likely produced some delays to the winter wheat harvest. Temperatures have fallen below normal behind this system and will ease drought stress for a couple of days before temperatures rise again.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 18, 2021 |


U.S.-UK and EU Suspend Airplane Tariffs Trade Representative Katherine Tai returned to the U.S. Thursday following a successful trip to Europe. Tai, along with counterparts from the European Union and the United Kingdom, agreed to suspend tariffs caused by disagreements over aircraft. Tai, announcing the agreement with the UK Thursday, says both the EU and UK and the U.S. will establish working groups on large civil aircraft. Each side intends not to impose countermeasures for a period of five years, starting July 4, 2021. Countermeasures in the dispute in the past include imposing tariffs on U.S. agriculture and food products. Regarding the UK, Tai states, “Reaching an agreement with the United Kingdom to finally put the large civil aircraft disputes behind us is a great step forward for our special relationship.” House Agriculture Committee Chair David Scott, a Georgia Democrat, says, “This announcement is welcome and will certainly set the stage for important future bilateral agreements between the U.S. and our European allies.” *********************************************************************************** Biden Administration Released New Broadband Coverage Map A new broadband mapping tool released by the White House Thursday shows the need for rural broadband. The Indicators of Broadband Need map indicates areas of need by marking them red. The tool unsurprisingly marks much of the U.S. land area, particularly rural areas, as in need of broadband. Except for city-centers, states like Idaho, Montana, Nebraska and Texas, among many others, are largely identified as areas in need. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo (Roh-MUN-doh) says the mapping tool “paints a sobering view of the challenges facing far too many Americans as they try to connect to high-speed broadband.” The map contains data aggregated at the county, census tract, and census block level from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Federal Communications Commission, and internet speed testing providers. The data classifies areas of need by locations that lack the FCC’s current benchmark for fixed broadband service of 25 megabits per second download, three upload. *********************************************************************************** Senate Ag Scheduled Hearing on Cattle Markets Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow Thursday announced a hearing titled “Examining Markets, Transparency, and Prices from Cattle Producer to Consumer.” The Michigan Democrat, along with the committee’s ranking Republican John Boozman of Arkansas, scheduled the hearing for the afternoon of Wednesday, June 23. Cattle market transparency is a priority for cattle producers as disruptions in the market, along with pandemic-related issues, developed. Legislation, such as the Cattle Market Transparency Act, seeks to correct the disruptions and improve trade for cattle producers. Introduced in March, Farm Bureau Congressional Relations Director Scott Bennett said at the time the legislation would ease frustration in the market by “creating a contract library for producers to compare the terms of their contracts versus others in the industry." In May, a diverse group of farm and cattle organizations came together to focus on cattle market transparency concerns. The issue started growing in 2019 when a fire burned a Tyson plant in Holcomb, Kansas. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Drought Monitor Update The latest U.S. Drought Monitor update Thursday shows widespread drought conditions across roughly half of the United States. Warmer than normal temperatures continued their hold on the northern tier of the Lower 48, particularly in the northern Great Plains and Upper Midwest. Across the north, widespread degradation of drought conditions occurred in areas where heavy rainfall missed. A few areas that received heavy precipitation and saw localized improvements were coastal Oregon and Washington, western Montana, and eastern Montana and western North Dakota. The most severe drought ratings are found in the West region and North Dakota. For the Drought Monitor’s West region, which covers nine states, the update classifies 55 percent of the region in extreme drought and 26 percent in exceptional drought, the most severe category. The drought extends through northern High Plains states and the upper Midwest to the Great Lakes. With some droughts indicated on the East Coast, the rest of the U.S. is largely free from drought. ************************************************************************************ Research Supports Dairy’s Net Zero Initiative with $10 Million Grant The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research recently awarded a $10 million grant supporting U.S. dairy’s Net Zero Initiative. Announced Thursday, the funding will support a six-year project titled “Dairy Soil and Water Regeneration.” The project focuses on building soil health to reduce greenhouse gases and improving water quality, along with enabling new economic benefits. The research will provide measurement-based assessments of dairy’s greenhouse gas footprint for feed production and set the stage for new market opportunities related to carbon, water quality and soil health, according to Dairy Management Inc. The grant will be matched by financial contributions from partners such as Nestlé, the dairy industry, including Newtrient, and in-kind support for a total of $23.2 million. The funds are managed by the Dairy Research Institute. Dairy Management Inc. scientists will serve as the project leads to address research gaps in feed production and manure-based fertilizers that, once filled, will enable new markets, incentives and investments in dairy sustainability. ************************************************************************************ McDonalds CEO Expect Dine-in Eating to Bounce Back McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski (Kim-chin-skee) expects dining inside restaurants to bounce back following the COVID-19 pandemic. Kempczinski states, “I think dine-in is always going to be here,” making his comments during a CNBC Evolve Conference panel, adding, “Eating is such a social experience, and dine-in is a part of that social experience." Digital orders and drive-thru sales surged through the pandemic for the fast-food sector, along with curbside pickup for sit-down restaurants. Dine-in customers make up about a quarter of McDonald's U.S. sales. The McDonalds CEO says, “I think in the U.S., we may see dine-in take longer to recover," but adds, "we're certainly expecting that dine-in is also going to be an important part of the McDonald's experience." Other fast-food chains in the U.S. are building new locations with less seating and a focus on the to-go experience, based on how sales shifted during the pandemic. However, most plan to keep some form of seating for dine-in customers moving forward.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 18, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Juneteenth Now a Federal Holiday President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday a measure that makes June 19 a federal holiday -- Juneteenth -- marking the end of slavery in the United States in 1865. June 19, 1865, was the date that Union General Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation to African-Americans in Texas, roughly two-and-one-half years after the proclamation was issued on January 1, 1863. The new holiday comes at the culmination of legislative action this week that saw the Senate approve legislation to declare the June 19 a federal holiday. The House followed suit Wednesday and approved the plan on a 415-14 vote. What the quick development means is that today, June 18, will be the observed federal holiday, with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announcing most federal workers would get Friday off since June 19 falls on a Saturday. But the situation has spawned a host of questions. Some have lit up social media sites, expressing disappointment that the OPM made the announcement via Twitter as opposed to an official notice on their website. However, the OPM does update its government operating status each day with a notice posted on their website typically shortly after midnight Eastern Time. What this does is set off a host of questions, however, including what services will or won't be available. The quick passage and enactment of the law has resulted in potentially more answers than questions, especially on things like U.S. mail. As of mid-afternoon on Thursday, there was no word if mail delivery would be interrupted or not. It would appear most U.S. federal government offices will be closed on Friday in observance of the holiday which would include USDA service centers. However, Farm Service Agency Service Centers have been allowing limited visitors to those offices or taking things on an appointment-only basis. So a quick check with your local office is the best bet if you had an appointment for June 18. Markets will be open for business. The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) is an industry trade group that makes recommendations for U.S. bond markets. The group said that the Juneteenth would be incorporated in its holiday schedule in coming years. U.S. stock markets and commodity markets will also be open for trading and on regulator trading hours. A spokeswoman for the NASDAQ exchange told MarketWatch that U.S. markets operated by the exchange will remain open on Friday, a big expiration of options and futures, and Monday “to maintain a fair and orderly market and to minimize operational risks.” And there is the matter of the agencies that regulate these markets, including the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. They have announced they will be closed on Friday. Typically, those agencies are the ones that markets would have to work with to determine any holiday schedules to make sure that all the needed activities are addressed. And markets are not always closed for every federal government holiday, or at least not always right away. The Martin Luther King Jr. holiday January 19 was officially established in 1986 and the stock markets and other exchanges opted to remain open, but observe a minute of silence. However, that changed in 1998 when the New York Stock Exchange opted to close and other markets have also opted to close for that day. But there are also days when markets close that are not federal government holidays such as Good Friday. As for companies, the Wall Street Journal noted that Juneteenth is observed at 9% of businesses, citing a survey conducted this year by employer consulting firm Mercer LLC. But the key for ag markets is that it removes another day of price discovery if markets opt to close in observance of the holiday. And after a day of steep losses on June 17, that will mean Friday could see another active market day. If markets were to suddenly be closed Friday, that could create either unfair advantages or unintended costs for those that would need to adjust their market positions in the wake of the big market decline Thursday. While we are currently in a period where there are no U.S. government payments like loan deficiency payments being made, the have an extra federal government holiday will not affect any payments to farmers. In years past, the Columbus Day holiday has been one where it could create a payment opportunity for farmers as the government closure meant the Farm Service Agency was not updating its daily rates used to determine Loan Deficiency payments, a situation which could allow some producers to capture an extra day of pricing their crops knowing what the LDP rate would be. So we will see. Getting an extra holiday with pay would be something many workers would appreciate. But there are more than a few moving parts that mean the full impact of this quickly enacted holiday will unfold in the years to come and could be something to follow closely as it relates to markets and the ability of farmers to market their crops, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 18, 2021 |


Senate Ag Committee Sets Hearing On Cattle Market/Industry The Senate Agriculture Committee has set a hearing for June 23 on “Examining markets, transparency, and prices from cattle producer to consumers.” The move was welcomed by Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who has been a long critic of the U.S. cattle market situation and consolidation in the industry. “GR8 NEWS Ag Cmte answering my calls 2hold a hearing on June 23 on unfairness in cattle market/industry (plus)need for transparency,” Grassley said on Twitter. “This is opportunity to educate senators/public on the dire issues family farmers r facing while up against Big Cattle/ 4 packers control 80% of market.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 18, 2021 |


US-UK Set Five-Year Suspension of Tariffs in Aircraft Dispute Following on the lines of the compromise announced earlier this week with the European Union (EU), the U.S. and UK reached agreement to suspend tariffs they have imposed over the Airbus/Boeing dispute. The agreement with the UK is said to be nearly identical to the one reached with the EU earlier this week on the topic. The U.S.-UK accord includes establishing a working group on large civil aircraft with each side agreeing to provide any financing to aircraft firms will be “on market terms” and that research and development funding will be provided “though an open and transparent process.” The two will also jointly analyze and address “non-market practices of third parties that may harm their respective large civil aircraft industries.” The five-year tariff suspension applies from July 4.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 18, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets There are no official reports on Friday's docket, but traders will continue to pay close attention to the latest weather forecasts, any news of an export sale and any news regarding a change in U.S. biofuels policy. Rain and cooler temperatures are expected to arrive next week, but Monday afternoon's Crop Progress report will likely show a decline in crop condition ratings. Weather Batches of thunderstorms from Thursday night's activity will continue over the eastern Midwest on Friday. Some storms could be severe with wind and hail threats and moderate rainfall amounts. Heat continues to be suppressed as a front drifts farther south. More isolated showers will be found to the west across the Central Plains and we await the development of a tropical system across the Gulf of Mexico with its likely landfall in the Louisiana coastline Friday night.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 17, 2021 |


USDA Seeks Public Input on Racial Justice and Equity The Department of Agriculture Wednesday published a Federal Register Notice requesting public input on efforts to advance racial justice and equity across the Department. The action follows an executive order, Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, signed on President Joe Biden’s first day in office. Dr. Dewayne Goldmon, Senior Advisor for Racial Equity, states, “We are steadfast towards ending discrimination in all its forms wherever it exists.” The information gained through the notice and public listening sessions will aid in identifying barriers that people of color, underserved communities, and others may face regarding USDA programs. USDA will use this information to identify opportunities to address systemic inequities. The notice will be available for public input until July 15, 2021, and is available online through the Federal Register. In addition, USDA will provide the information gathered to the impending Racial Equity Commission it seeks to launch later this year. *********************************************************************************** Argentina Close to Deal to Reopen Beef Exports Argentina appears on track towards reaching an agreement to reopen beef exports. The potential deal comes days ahead of the expiration date on the government's month-long suspension, according to Reuters. Argentina paused beef exports to combat domestic inflation, which is estimated overall at about 50 percent this year. Since enacting the export ban, Argentine beef packers began negotiating with the government to lift the restrictions, fearing they could be extended. An Argentine government official tells Reuters, “We are seeking an agreement that would allow the meat export market to reopen while expanding production enough to guarantee domestic supplies as well.” Argentina exported roughly 28 percent of the 956,000 metric tons of beef produced in the first four months of 2021. Argentina is the second-largest supplier of beef to China, behind Brazil. Beef prices are surging around the world as China is importing more beef, and higher grain prices are pushing feed costs higher. *********************************************************************************** USDA: Don’t Forget to File Acreage Reports Farmers who have not yet completed their crop acreage reports after planting should make an appointment with their local Farm Service Agency office before the deadline. July 15 is a major deadline for most crops, but acreage reporting deadlines vary by county and crop. FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-sheh-no) says, “Once planting is complete, call your local FSA county office to make an appointment.” An acreage report documents a crop grown on a farm or ranch and its intended uses. Filing an accurate and timely acreage report for all crops and land uses, including failed acreage and prevented planted acreage, can prevent the loss of benefits. Producers can contact their FSA county office for acreage reporting deadlines that are specific to their county. If the crop is not planted by the acreage reporting date, then the acreage must be reported within 15 calendar days after planting is completed. *********************************************************************************** USDA Releases Livestock, Dairy, and Poultry Outlook The Department of Agriculture’s Economic Resource Service Wednesday released the latest Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook. While a cyberattack disrupted cattle slaughter for two days in June, the Memorial Day week finished above 2020 levels, though well below 2019. USDA did raise cow slaughter in the second and third quarters of 2021, but fed cattle slaughter decreased in the second quarter. Meanwhile, strong demand supported hog prices and processor margins through May 2021. USDA raised lean hog prices to reflect assumptions of continuing strong processor demand. Total 2021 exports are forecast at almost 7.6 billion pounds, about four percent above last year. The milk production forecasts for 2021 and 2022 increased on higher expected milk cow numbers. Exports were relatively strong in April as cheese exports reached a record high, and butter exports were higher than in any month since June 2014. Finally, the 2021 broiler export forecast increased on recent data and improved production expectations. ************************************************************************************ South Dakota Seeks Emergency Waiver for CRP Haying and Grazing U.S. lawmakers from South Dakota call on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to provide an emergency waiver for CRP haying and grazing. The entire South Dakota Congressional delegation sent a letter to Vilsack this week asking him “to release as many additional CRP acres as possible." The most recent U.S. Drought Monitor indicates that more than 95 percent of South Dakota is experiencing drought conditions. CRP acres often help alleviate the hay and grazing shortage for livestock producers during a drought. The drought conditions are worsening and will quickly result in very short hay supplies and a lack of pastureland across the state. South Dakota has already suffered grazing losses not only to drought but also to fires this year. Emergency release of CRP for haying and grazing in the past has provided valuable feed in local areas in times of urgent need, many times keeping livestock operators from being forced to untimely liquidate their herds. ************************************************************************************ Report Finds Broccoli as the Favorite Vegetable in U.S. In a recent survey, broccoli secured the number one spot, yet again, as America's favorite vegetable, followed by carrots and corn. Green Giant’s annual Favorite Veggie Survey polled more than 5,000 Americans. Although broccoli remains America's favorite, the popularity of corn substantially increased over the past year. The survey found 100 percent of consumers surveyed who picked broccoli as their favorite vegetable noted taste as a top factor in making their selection. However, from 2019 to 2021, the number of states selecting carrot as the favorite vegetable has increased 500 percent. Those selecting broccoli has decreased 23 percent. Compared to survey data from 2020, seven times more states selected corn as a favorite in 2021. And while broccoli is America's favorite vegetable, according to the general population survey, corn is the runaway favorite vegetable among Americans ages 55-72. Tomato and cucumber were noticeable favorites in 2020 that didn't make the favorites list in 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 17, 2021 |


Republicans Lay Out Issues with Tax Plans Republican House and Senate Ag Committee leaders Tuesday unveiled a study detailing negative impacts that proposed changes to capital gains and estate taxes could have on intergenerational farm transfers, though the report does not consider potential exemptions the Biden administration has insisted would insulate farmers from some of the shifts. Economists from the Agricultural and Food Policy Center (AFPC) at Texas A&M University modelled effects the Sensible Taxation and Equity Promotion (STEP) Act -- which would eliminate stepped-up basis for capital gains taxes -- and the 99.5 Percent Act -- which would lower the estate tax exemption to $1 million per individual -- would have on a set of 94 "representative farms" included in a database maintained by AFPC. The policy center simulated how the two bills, either in isolation or together, would have based on asset information furnished in a survey of operators included in the AFPC database. If both tax measures were enacted, AFPC's analysis found 92 of 94 (98%) of the representative farms would see higher taxes, with an average liability of $1,431,408.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 17, 2021 |


USDA Aid Announcement Comes With Details Awaited As USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was set to testify on USDA's Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget this week, USDA announced aid for producers that it said will be issued over the next 60 days, mostly from the $1.9-trillion COVID aid plan approved in March and other aid efforts. USDA said the latest round of aid will be dispatched over the next 60 days, "which will continue to be focused on filling gaps in previous rounds of assistance and helping beginning, socially disadvantaged, and small- and medium-size [farms] that need support most." The funds include $200 million for small, family-owned timber harvesting and hauling businesses, $700 million for biofuels producers, support for dairy farmers and processors that includes $400 million for the coming Dairy Donation Program along with additional $580 million in supplemental Dairy Margin Coverage for small and medium farms and assistance for poultry and livestock producers left out of previous rounds of pandemic assistance, including contract growers of poultry. Plus the aid would include help for livestock and poultry producers forced to euthanize animals during the pandemic (March 1, 2020, through December 26, 2020). But some of the efforts outlined in the announcement are for programs that have not yet been finalized or have not yet been completed on the regulatory front.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 17, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, along with weekly U.S. jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. An index of leading U.S. indicators is set for 9 a.m., following by U.S. natural gas inventories at 9:30 a.m. Traders are staying close to the latest weather forecasts and will see if USDA can come up with a second export sale announcement in June. Weather Some isolated showers and thunderstorms around Iowa will dissipate this morning, but more scattered strong to severe storms will be possible across the central Corn Belt later today and tonight. Meanwhile, heat relief will continue to push southward behind a front but remain hot and mostly dry across the Central and Southern Plains. Conditions remain favorable for winter wheat harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 16, 2021 |


U.S., EU Reach Deal to End Trade Dispute Over Subsidies President Biden and European Union leaders reached an agreement to halt the long-running trade dispute over subsidies for Boeing and Airbus. The Hill says the announcement comes as the president participates in an EU-U.S. summit in Brussels as part of his first trip overseas as president. The two sides hope it will improve relations between America and Europe as both are collectively trying to counter the rising power of China. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai says the announcement resolves a long-standing “irritant” in the relationship between the U.S. and the European Union. “Instead of fighting with one of our closest allies, we are finally coming together against a common threat,” she says. As part of the deal, both sides will suspend the tariffs related to the dispute for five years, including tariffs on wine, spirits, tractors, and cheese. The Hill points out that Biden still hasn’t announced plans to lift tariffs on European steel and aluminum imposed by the Trump administration, which may still be a continued source of tensions. A senior administration official says the negotiations are ongoing, describing them as constructive, but did note that they will take time. ********************************************************************************************** NPPC Asking Congress to Address Bottlenecks at Nation’s Ports America’s hog farmers are the leading suppliers of high-quality pork, annually shipping more than $7 billion to overseas destinations. However, recent shipping delays at U.S. ports are disrupting exports. If these delays are addressed soon, they could lead to serious bottlenecks for pork and other agricultural exports. National Pork Producers Council President Jen Sorenson says, “Compounding the situation is the fact that carriers are failing to provide accurate notice to exporters of arrival/departure and cargo loading times, and then impose financial penalties on exporters for ‘missing’ those loading windows,” Sorenson said while testifying before Congress. “These costs are ultimately passed down the supply chain to farmers.” In discussing potential solutions to the bottlenecks, Sorenson urged for expanded operating hours for U.S. ports, and expedited Federal Maritime Commission enforcement preventing unreasonable financial penalties for exporters. All U.S. ports are experiencing shipping delays, but the West Coast is the most heavily impacted as it sends products to Asian-Pacific destinations, one of U.S. pork’s top export markets. *********************************************************************************************** USDA Announces Additional Aid for Producers and Business Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack announced additional aid intended for agricultural producers and businesses as part of the USDA Pandemic Assistance for Producers Initiative. Earlier this year, the secretary announced plans to use available pandemic assistance funds to address a number of gaps and disparities in previous rounds of aid. As part of the Pandemic Assistance initiative announced in March, USDA pledged to continue Coronavirus Food Assistance Program payments and to provide aid to producers and businesses left behind. Implementation of the assistance announced this week will continue within 60 days to include support to timber harvesters, biofuels, dairy farmers and processors, livestock farmers and contract growers of poultry, assistance for organic cost share, and grants for PPE. “USDA is honoring its commitment to get financial assistance to producers and critical agricultural businesses, especially those left out or underserved by previous COVID aid,” says Vilsack. “These investments through USDA pandemic Assistance will help our food, agriculture, and forestry sectors get back on track and plan for the future.” Since January, USDA has provided more than $11 billion worth of assistance to producers, as well as food and agriculture businesses. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Announces Dates for CRP and Grasslands Signup USDA set a deadline of July 23, 2021, for all agricultural producers and landowners to apply for the Conservation Reserve Program General Signup number 56. Also, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency will accept applications for CRP Grasslands from July 12 to August 20. This year, USDA updated both signup options to provide greater incentives for producers and increase its conservation benefits, including reducing the impacts of climate change. The signups are competitive and will provide annual rental payments for land devoted to conservation purposes. “We are excited to roll out our new and improve CRP General and Grassland signups,” says FSA Administrator Michael Ducheneaux (DOO-sheh-no). “The bottom line is CRP now makes more financial sense for producers while also providing a bigger return on investment in terms of natural resource benefits.” Through CRP, producers and landowners establish long-term, resource-conserving plant species to control soil erosion, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat on cropland. CRP Grasslands helps landowners and operators to protect grassland, including rangeland, pastureland, and certain other lands, while maintaining the areas as grazing lands. For more information or to sign up for these programs, producers should contact their local USDA Service Center. ********************************************************************************************** Farm Groups Differ over USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Changes Several of America’s leading farm groups differ on the USDA’s proposal to consider three new rules to strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act. National Farmers Union President Rob Larew told the Hagstrom Report that, “Shielding farmers from corporate abuse was one of the main objectives for Farmers Union since it was established. The publication of these planned administrative actions is a step in the right direction. Family Farm Action Alliance President Joe Maxwell says, “Past failures to adequately strengthen the Packers and Stockyards Act left the regulatory environment a haven for consolidation. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is less than enthusiastic. “As we did in 2010 and again last year, NCBA will fight hard to ensure that any regulations created or revised under the Packers and Stockyards Act do not reduce cattle producers’ ability to realize higher profits and make the decisions that are best for them” North American Meat Institute President and CEO Julie Anna Potts points out that the concepts in the three USDA proposals were rejected by eight federal appellate courts. “They were a bad idea in 2010, in 2016, and a bad idea in 2021,” she says. *********************************************************************************************** Produce Industry Returning to In-Person to Washington Conference Members of the produce industry will come together face-to-face at the 2021 Annual Washington Conference on September 20-22 in Washington, D.C. “After a year of virtual events, we’re thrilled to bring our industry back together in person for one of the most important events of the year,” says United Fresh Chairman Danny Dumas. “It’s our opportunity to explain our challenges and voice our concerns with the nation’s top elected leaders.” For more than 25 years, the conference has brought industry leaders to meet with members of Congress and Cabinet officials throughout the Administration. “From Bill Clinton to Joe Biden, every president’s administration has heard directly from produce leaders during this annual event,” says United Fresh CEO Tom Stenzel. The 2021 conference will once again include face-to-face Congressional meetings as permitted in September, as well as a series of online meetings that will follow the conference. The Washington conference also includes a Produce Advocacy Bootcamp for those attendees new to communicating with Congress, workshops detailing the most critical public policy issues facing the produce industry, general sessions with the nation’s top leaders, and networking opportunities throughout the industry.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 16, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US, EU Again Pause Aircraft Dispute The U.S. and European Union (EU) agreed to what was initially reported as a deal on the civilian aircraft dispute between the two over subsidies paid to Airbus in the EU and Boeing in the U.S. But as more details began to come out about the action, it appears a little more nuanced that just an outright trade deal. Recall that the two sides had already agreed to in March a four-month suspension of the tariffs totaling some $11 billion in total on products traded between the two countries. There had been little said leading up to the announcement early Tuesday morning other than the two sides were still "hopeful" that an agreement could be reached before the four-month tariff hiatus ended July 11. But the intensity picked up as President Joe Biden was poised to hold a summit with his EU counterpart, European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen, leading to the initial reports a deal was reached. Of course, many reports simply characterized the situation as one that was started by President Donald Trump and the tariffs the U.S. hit the EU with after winning their case against Airbus subsidies at the WTO. The two sides tried to negotiate a deal, but the U.S. forged ahead with retaliatory tariffs. But the dispute was not one that started under Trump. Rather it goes back some 17 years -- to 2004 under the Presidency of George W. Bush. And administration's since then have maintained the U.S. stance that the subsidies provided Airbus did not pass muster relative to EU commitments under WTO. That, of course, spawned a challenge by the EU of what they said were subsidies for the U.S. airplane maker Boeing. Both countries pursued the matters at the WTO and the trade body ruled both were in violation of their trade commitments. Under WTO rules after appeals are exhausted, if the trade situation is not remedied, then a country can take action against the other with the approval of the WTO. And that is where the Trump administration took the dispute. "Today's announcement resolves a long-standing trade irritant in the U.S.-Europe relationship," said U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. "Instead of fighting with one of our closest allies, we are finally coming together against a common threat." That common threat? China. This has been the underlying focus for the Biden administration and the five-year suspension of tariffs agreed to with the EU sets the stage for more cooperation between the two on China. But on the aircraft dispute, the two agreed to an "understanding on a cooperative framework" that covers two pages and commits the two sides to approach funding and development of large civilian aircraft "on market terms." The also agreed that government research funds for new aircraft programs would be via an "open and transparent process." Any disputes between the two are to handled "though quiet bargaining in a new working group," according to the Washington Post. Tai called the deal "revolutionary" as it would allow them to focus on China's growth in the commercial aircraft market. But she also admitted that some of the details are yet to be worked out and will be sorted out over those next five years in the new working group. But before thinking that all is well between the U.S. and EU on the trade front, think again. There are still other disputes that remain, including ones on steel and metals tariffs imposed by the U.S. And that is a topic where countries have been negotiating for some five years without much progress to show. And there is the matter of digital taxes and border carbon taxes. On the latter, even Tai who declared the two sides would put away their "litigation briefcases" in the aircraft dispute, admitted that the U.S. would reserve its right to retaliate with tariffs if the EU imposed tariffs linked to carbon that the U.S. feels are discriminatory. So we will see. There is a five-year hiatus on tariffs between the two sides and a general document on the dispute that still has to be finished in the aircraft dispute. Given that there are other still unresolved issues like beef and GMOs with the EU, this aircraft dispute and coming negotiations on metals and digital taxes that need to be monitored very closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 16, 2021 |


Senate Sets Vote On Biden's EPA Water Nominee Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., filed for cloture Tuesday to advance the nomination of Radhika Fox to be the EPA assistant administrator for water. The procedural move clears the way for a full Senate vote on Fox yet this week. If confirmed, Fox will take the helm of one of EPA's biggest departments. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved Fox on May 26 by a 14-6 margin. Meanwhile, the Senate Monday by voice vote confirmed Michal Ilana Freedhoff to be EPA assistant administrator for toxic substances.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 16, 2021 |


Livestock Issues Key in Senate Hearing on USDA Budget Livestock market and pricing issues were among the top topics raised by members of the Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee Tuesday as USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack appeared to testify on the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget request for the agency. The ranking Republican on the panel, Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., called for more pricing transparency and more competition in cattle markets in particular. Vilsack agreed on those issues, pointing to the recently released regulatory agenda where USDA said it would pursue rulemaking on the Packers & Stockyards Act. Vilsack said USDA efforts to bolster meat processing capacity should have positive knock-on effects. He signaled USDA would be coming forward with plans to boost processing capacity, saying, "I think you will see over the course of the summer that we have a pretty unique approach to this that I think will result in significant expansion of processing." Vilsack also said he supported the Meat Packing Special Investigator Act, that would create an "Office of the Special Investigator for Competition Matters" within the USDA's Packers and Stockyards Division. "I think it is a good proposal, I think it is part of what needs to be done," Vilsack said.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 16, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts continue to get top attention from grain traders with increased rain chances expected next week. A report on May U.S. housing starts is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Wednesday, followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of energy inventories, including ethanol production at 9:30 a.m. The Federal Reserve concludes a two-day meeting Wednesday and offers its announcement at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather A frontal boundary moving through the Northern Plains will spark some isolated showers and thunderstorms there and into Minnesota Wednesday. A few isolated showers will be possible in the Plains, but heat and dryness should benefit winter wheat harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 15, 2021 |


Biden Considering Relief for U.S. Refiners The White House is under pressure from labor unions and senators, including those from President Biden’s home state of Delaware, to consider relief for refiners from the biofuel blending mandates. Three sources close to the matter told Reuters that the issue is pitting two of the administration’s most important political constituencies against each other: blue-collar refinery workers and farmers who depend on biofuel mandates to give stability to corn markets. It may prompt a sharp turn in policy for the administration, which had been pulling back the Trump Administration’s expansion of waivers for U.S. refiners from the Renewable Fuel Standard. The credits, called RINs, are currently at their highest price in the 13-year history of the program. Refiners are saying the policy threatens to bankrupt fuel makers who are already hurt by plummeting fuel demand during COVID-19. Biofuel advocates say that fuel makers should have invested in biofuel blending facilities years ago and can pass on the added costs for buying credits. Democratic Senators from Delaware have met with Micheal Regan, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, in recent weeks to talk about providing relief to refiners. ********************************************************************************************** Bill Would Combat Anti-Competitive Practices in Meat Processing Industry Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley joined fellow Republican Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, in introducing legislation on meatpacking. The bill would address the anti-competitive practices in the meat and poultry industries that threaten the nation’s food supply and national security. The legislation comes on the heels of a recent ransomware attack on JBS, one of the country’s largest meat suppliers. “Increased consolidation is driving concerns about competitive market access for livestock producers,” Grassley says. “The recent cyberattack added to existing vulnerabilities in our food supply chain, underscoring the importance of protecting the livelihoods of our family farmers.” He also says food security is national security. The Senators’ bill, called the “Meat Packing Special Investigator Act,” would create the “Office of the Special Investigator for Competitive Matters” within the USDA’s Packers and Stockyards Division. The new investigator would oversee a team of investigators with subpoena power, dedicated to preventing and addressing anti-competitive practices in the meat and poultry industries and enforcing the nation’s antitrust laws. *********************************************************************************************** China Soybean Imports Boom as Hog Population Recovers Chinese soybean imports grew significantly during the first five months of 2021, which follows along with a recovery in the country’s domestic hog numbers. However, MSN says domestic demand for the crop looks more modest in the coming months because of rising soybean prices around the globe. China purchased 38.23 million tons of soybeans between January and May. The world’s biggest importer of soybeans spent $19.35 billion on the crop; 44 percent higher than the same period in 2020. As expected, the U.S. and Brazil were once again the top suppliers, with imports up from both countries during the same five months by almost 13 percent year-on-year. While the Phase One Trade Agreement with the U.S. has been one reason for the surge in imports, the recovery of China’s hog herd, devastated by African Swine Fever, is a key driver of the demand for soybeans. A senior animal protein analyst at Rabobank says the expectation of rapid hog restocking has been the key reason for strong imports but the food-service industry’s recovery from COVID-19 also supports Chinese imports. China’s spending on food imports, including grains and meat, is 33 percent higher than it was during the first five months of last year. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Begins Issuing Payments for 2018-2019 Disasters The USDA is set to begin issuing more than $1 billion in payments over the next several weeks, beginning on Tuesday, June 15. The funds are for agriculture producers with approved applications for the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Program and producers who have already received payments through the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). Producers weathered significant natural disasters during 2018 and 2019, and the programs provide disaster assistance to those producers who suffered losses. For each crop year, the maximum amount that a person or legal entity may receive under the QLA program, directly or indirectly, is $125,000. Payments made to joint operations will not exceed $125,000, multiplied by the number of persons or legal entities that comprise the ownership of the joint operation. Producers who applied for and received their first WHIP+ payment can expect to receive the second payment beginning in mid-June for eligible crop losses. Any producers with questions can contact their local USDA Service Center. *********************************************************************************************** Colorado Lawmakers Approve Expanded Rights for Ag Workers Colorado lawmakers have approved a major expansion of rights for the state’s 40,000 agriculture workers. The Colorado Sun says the state’s governor, Jared Polis, is eager to sign off on the legislation. Colorado’s Senate Bill 87 gives farm workers the right to join labor unions, earn state minimum wage and overtime pay. Colorado’s Labor Peace Act currently exempts agriculture workers from job protections, such as the collective bargaining that’s available to workers in other industries. The bill eliminates that exemption and opens the door for agriculture workers to organize and join labor unions, engage in collective bargaining, and hold strikes. Mandated working conditions include periodic bathroom breaks, meals, and rest breaks. It also requires protections that will be determined by the Department of Labor and Employment regarding outdoor temperatures exceeding 80 degrees. The legislation limits the use of short-handled hoes while workers are stooped, kneeling, or squatting, and it limits when workers can be required to do hand weeding or thinning vegetation. It also requires rest breaks when they perform work like that. With COVID-19 in mind, the bill would also add special requirements for housing during a public health emergency. ********************************************************************************************** CURD Act Would Protect Cheese Quality Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind introduced the CURD Act last week. The “Codifying Useful Regulatory Definitions” (CURD) Act would create a formal definition of “natural cheese” to ensure consumers are fully informed when purchasing cheese. “America’s Dairyland is proud of the international award-winning, high-quality cheese,” he says. “We need to ensure customers have the information necessary to keep buying the quality Wisconsin cheese families have enjoyed for generations.” Kind also says that June Dairy Month is the perfect time to introduce the legislation to address the issue and make sure Wisconsin cheese can continue to be labeled as “natural cheese.” The term “natural cheese” is historically used to identify cheeses made directly from milk and distinguish those products from processed cheeses. It describes cheese that’s made from milk to which salt, enzymes, and flavorings can be added. It’s the result of the fermentation of milk by adding starter culture. Examples of natural cheeses include cheddar, swiss, cream, parmesan, and string. To help secure the future of Wisconsin Dairy, Kind also introduced his Family Farm Action Plan, which would support hardworking family farmers and help the state’s dairy industry work toward a brighter future.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 15, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Trouble at Lordstown Motors The former General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, emerged as a potential star in the electric vehicle show. Lordstown Motors took over the plant with a plan to build electric pickups there, the Endurance. But high hopes that accompanied the effort have not been met. A prototype of the truck burned down in testing in February. Then last week reports surfaced that the company had told investors they had thousands of "pre-orders" for the truck, including from those companies that run big fleets. But the New York Times noted that a report in March from Hindenburg Research had resulted in a push "to bring these companies public well before they were ready and in many cases some of these companies will never be ready." To open this week, Lordstown's founder Steve Burns, and the company's chief financial officer, Julio Rodriguez, resigned. "An investigation by Sullivan & Cromwell, a law firm hired by a special committee of Lordstown's board, the results of which were disclosed on Monday, confirmed 'issues regarding the accuracy of certain statements regarding the company's pre-orders,'" the Times reported. Now the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the situation, including on a merger of the firm with DiamondPeak plus the sales orders. The company is expected to hold an event at its factory to tell investors and others about its pickup truck. But Lordstown is not the only startup in the electric vehicle world that has had problems. By contrast, there is Tesla that has gathered a global following for its electric cars. But the question that comes now is can these startups really survive or will be the electric vehicle market be dominated by automakers already in operation -- Ford recently demonstrated an electric version of its F-150 pickup to President Joe Biden. This still means that electric vehicles have a future in the U.S. automotive fleet. However, those seeking to "cash in" on the trend should take note of what has unfolded with Lordstown and others -- something that has applied to any business and that is you have to have a product to sell and one that buyers trust. That's what the challenge is ahead. And that doesn't even get into issues surrounding the range or battery charging times that still represent some of the biggest hurdles that companies seeking to broaden the electric vehicle market will have to address. Events like those with Lordstown suggest that perhaps the timeline for the electric vehicle to push the internal combustion engine out of favor with consumers is now further down the road. That probably is giving some relief to those in the biofuel sector as those fortunes are at least currently tied to motor fuel consumption. This means the challenge ahead for the biofuel industry will be to convince policy-makers and others that their fuel can be a big contributor to lowering emissions ahead of when electric vehicles reach a point of gaining that market share they need to truly make a difference on emissions. So we will see. Struggles by these startups are not unique to electric vehicles as there are always those who game the system. But the situation is still one that should be closely monitored, especially be a sector where corn and soyoil use in fuels is so important, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 15, 2021 |


WOTUS Replacement Rule Remains Focal Point EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a statement last week that the Trump administration's rollback of various water and wetlands protections is "leading to significant environmental degradation," and that the EPA will work with the Army Corps of Engineers to create new rules protecting ecosystems and providing safe drinking water. The announcement quickly brought accusations from Republicans that the Biden administration wants to reinstate Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule and potentially burden industries such as construction and agriculture in the process. The Wall Street Journal editorial page reacted harshly to the revision coming from the Biden administration. "EPA is preparing a private land grab that will limit farming, fracking, home building and economic activity… President Biden wants Congress to shovel out hundreds of billions of dollars for infrastructure, which the EPA then will tie up in a permitting morass--unless, of course, the projects advance climate or social-justice goals. Republicans shouldn't agree to any infrastructure deal that doesn't include permitting and regulatory efficiencies." But even EPA is not ready to commit to a timeline, their latest regulatory agenda listed the WOTUS replacement timing as "to be determined."

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 15, 2021 |


RFS One Key in EPA Regulatory Agenda The Biden administration on Friday released the unified regulatory agenda, with several issues ahead on biofuels. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to release its proposals for renewable fuel percentages under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in July 2021 and finalize the action in December, according to the unified regulatory agenda released by the Biden administration. As for the RFS levels for 2023 and beyond, the unified agenda noted that under the Clean Air Act, "EPA must set those volumes based on an analysis of factors specified in the statute. This rulemaking will establish volume requirements beginning in 2023." The timeline laid out for the action is for a notice of proposed rulemaking to be released in December 2021, with a final rule in December 2022. EPA noted that the legal deadline is for the action is required 14 months ahead of the first applicable year--2023. EPA also noted they are "required to modify, or reset," the applicable annual volume targets specified in the statute for future years if waivers of those volumes in past years met certain specified thresholds." While indicating those thresholds have been met, the agency said they are "considering proposing a rulemaking that would modify the applicable volumes targets for cellulosic biofuel, advanced biofuel, and total renewable fuel for future years." However, the timeline for that is listed as "to be determined." Regarding E15, EPA noted the notice of proposed rulemaking released in January by the Trump administration which proposed options to labeling of E15 fuel dispensers. "First, EPA proposed to modify the text and color of the E15 label," the agency noted. "Second, EPA proposed to remove the E15 label requirement entirely." The proposed reg also required future underground storage tank (UST) equipment to be compatible with higher blends of ethanol and provides additional options for demonstrating compatibility of existing UST systems with higher blends of ethanol. But as with the RFS reset, EPA indicate the timeline for the final rule is "to be determined."

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 15, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Reports on U.S. retail sales in May and the May producer price index are due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday, followed by a report on May industrial production from the Federal Reserve at 8:15 a.m. Traders are staying close to the latest weather forecasts and USDA has not had a daily export sale announcement since May 27. Any news pertaining to U.S. biofuel policy will also get a lot of market attention. Weather Hot and dry conditions continue for a majority of the country on Tuesday. Some isolated showers will be possible in the Plains and temperatures will be closer to normal across eastern areas. Conditions favor continued winter wheat harvest but the drought continues to worsen for developing row crops across the north.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 14, 2021 |


USTR Tai heads to Brussels this week for European Negotiations U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai is in Europe this week for negotiations with her European counterparts. Tai says she will take part in “intense negotiations” to resolve the 16-year dispute over Boeing and Airbus subsidies and find a path forward on products like steel and aluminum. The talks will also give the U.S. and European Union a chance to champion the rights and interests of workers in those industries while also creating new standards to combat the harmful industrial policies of China and other countries that undermine the ability of other countries to compete. The ambassador says trade is essential to a functioning global economy, but it’s clear that past promises made to workers on trade were not kept. The consequences for workers who lost their jobs to unfairly traded imports created a “trust gap” with the public about free trade. Tai says based on conversations so far, she’s “optimistic that we will be successful.” Tai made her remarks last week during an AFL-CIO Town Hall. ********************************************************************************************** Judge Halts USDA Debt Relief Plan A Wisconsin federal judge ordered the USDA to at least temporarily stop $4 billion in loan debt relief payments intended for minority farmers. DTN says the move is in response to a lawsuit filed by white farmers who are not eligible for the same debt relief funds. That’s just one of five federal lawsuits filed against Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack to block USDA from paying off loans for minority farmers without also doing the same for white farmers. The temporary restraining order late last week keeps USDA from paying out any money to minority farmers while the U.S. District Court in eastern Wisconsin considers a more extensive preliminary injunction request filed by attorneys for 12 white farmers from nine states. An attorney for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty says, “the Court recognized that the federal government’s plan to allocate benefits based on race raises grave constitutional concerns and threatens our clients with irreparable harm.” A spokesman for USDA says the department disagrees with the judge’s decision but did confirm that the debt-relief program is on hold for now. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Working to Strengthen Enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act The USDA will begin work on three proposed rules to support the enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act. The 100-year-old law was originally designed to protect poultry farmers, hog producers, and cattle ranchers from unfair, deceptive, and anti-competitive practices in meat markets. USDA will take three actions related to rulemaking in the months ahead. First, USDA intends to propose a new rule that will provide greater clarity to strengthen enforcement against unfair and deceptive practices, undue preferences, and unjust prejudices. USDA will also propose a new poultry grower tournament system rule, with the current inactive proposal to be withdrawn. The agency will also re-propose a rule to clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition to bring an action under Section 202 of the Act. “The pandemic and other recent events have revealed how concentration can take a painful toll on independent farmers and ranchers while exposing working family consumers to higher prices and uncertain output,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The Packers and Stockyards Act is 100 years old and needs to take into account modern market dynamics.” He says as the agency works to strengthen the resiliency of the country’s supply chains, enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act will be critically important. ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Farm Tractor Sales Drop in May Sales in the under-40 horsepower tractor category pulled total U.S. farm tractor sales negative, while all other segments and Canada continue strong growth. The latest data from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers shows that U.S. total farm tractor sales fell 3.9 percent in May compared to 2020, making it the first overall negative sales result in a year. U.S. self-propelled combine sales climbed a healthy 33.2 percent. Only the sub-40 horsepower segment saw a decline in year-over-year sales, dropping 8.9 percent, but that was enough to bring a negative result to total farm tractor unit sales. All other segments were positive, with the biggest gains in the articulated four-wheel-drive segment, up 62 percent to 253 units sold. The mid-sized 40-100 horsepower units were up 6.7 percent, and the 100-plus horsepower two-wheel-drive tractors were up 28 percent. Year-to-date farm tractor sales remain up 25.8 percent. In Canada, May monthly tractor and combine sales were positive through all segments, with the biggest growth in combine harvesters, up 166 percent to 109 units sold. “While the sub-40 segment fell a bit, they’re still up a strong 26 percent year-over-year to date,” says Curt Blades, Senior Vice President of Ag Services with AEM. *********************************************************************************************** NCBA Petitions to Change “Produced in USA” Label The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association petitioned the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to eliminate using “Product of the USA” labels for beef products. The Hagstrom Report says the NCBA wants to eliminate other broad U.S. origin labeling claims for beef and establish a “Processed in the USA” label instead. “The ‘Product of the USA’ label doesn’t meet the expectations of today’s consumers and disincentivizes the use of voluntary, source-verified claims that allow cattle and beef producers to more effectively distinguish their product in the marketplace,” says NCBA President Jerry Bohn. The headline on the NCBA news release says the move would “increase producer profitability.” Other groups have called for strict country-of-origin labels on meat which Congress passed but later rescinded after a World Trade Organization panel found the labels resulted in discrimination against Canadian and Mexican meat. The voluntary labels that NCBA supports represent investments made by producers to continually improve their products and meet consumer demand. “Marketing through source-verification will provide a more accurate and truthful description of the products,” Bohn adds, ‘which will reduce the potential for consumer confusion while increasing the ability of cattle producers to capture additional premiums for their product.” *********************************************************************************************** Food Import Costs Expected to Hit Record Levels in 2021 The costs of importing food are expected to reach record levels this year. The U.N. Food Agency says that will put intense pressure on the world’s poorest countries, whose economies have already been hit hard by COVID-19. Reuters says the high costs may continue for a long period as nearly all agricultural commodities have become more expensive in recent months, while a rally in energy markets could boost farmers’ production costs. The Food and Agriculture Organization says the problem is not that the world faces higher prices; the issue is vulnerable countries. The FAO’s Food Outlook report says the world’s food import bill will reach $1.71 trillion, up 12 percent from 2020. The FAO says nations classified as Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries are forecast to see their food import costs jump 20 percent this year. International aid organizations are already warning officials of rising numbers of malnourished people in the world as COVID-19 compounded food insecurity linked to conflict and poverty in states like Yemen and Nigeria. The FAO’s monthly food price index recently hit a 10-year high in May, including sharp rises for cereals, vegetable oils, and sugar.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 14, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Food labeling and Non-Dairy Products The issue of food labeling is one of those potential hot-button items when it comes to U.S. lawmakers. And that has not changed as was evidenced in a recent hearing on the Food and Drug Administration's Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget. And it is one that farm-state lawmakers, especially those from dairy states, have continued to focus on in the wake of the rise of plant-based food products that use terms like “milk” on the labels of the products. Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock was confronted by those issues during the hearing, with Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., zeroing in on the topic as she questioned Woodcock. Baldwin has introduced a bill that would seek to require FDA to issue guidance for nationwide enforcement of mislabeled imitation dairy products within 90 days. “I'm sometimes dismayed that I even have to offer a measure like this,” she told Woodcock. “FDA does not enforce the regulations it has on the books. So, dairy farmers follow these rules, day in and day out in order to be able to honestly label their product as milk, or cheese, or yogurt. Yet a range of imitation dairy products have gotten away with using these dairy terms, even though they don't follow the agency's rules.” So her question to Woodcock focused on what the agency is doing to address what she says is a violation of FDA labeling requirements. “We are working on updated guidance that would make sure consumers understood,” Woodcock said. “We're particularly concerned about nutritional value. For example, calcium, vitamin D, protein. Some of these other products are not comparable and safe. They were fed to a young child or infant, they wouldn't be getting what the consumer, the mother or parent thought the child was getting.” But Woodcock was able to offering little other assurance to Baldwin except to say FDA “will try to get that as soon as possible.” Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., delved into the issue of plant-based proteins and labeling on those products. Hoeven put his attention on the fact that USDA is in charge of labeling on animal products. “If there's animal terminology or imagery used, and of course, and on the animal side, we want USDA doing -- driving labeling,” he commented. “We understand you to have it in the Food and Drug side, from the plant and drug side. But, you know, how do you prevent misleading labeling for these products?” “We have to establish clear standards, and we work very closely with USDA on these issues to make sure they have labeling principles and so forth to make sure that that those are out there and people understand them,” Woodcock replied. “So some is education, some is enforcement to make sure that if things are mislabeled that, that we provide feedback to companies.” Noting the confusion that unfolds with a beef product and a similarly named plant-based product, Hoeven noted, including for both the consumer but also livestock producer. “I would say on the plant side, there are many people who want to make sure they're eating a plant product, too,” Woodcock observed. “So these need to be very labeled very clearly which one they are so that people are not misled.” So we will see. The issue of things like common food names being applied to similar plant-based products has long been a focal point for the U.S. dairy and other sectors. And as these alternatives continue to grow, it is an issue that needs to be monitored closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 14, 2021 |


NCBA Petition USDA To Eliminate 'Product of The USA' Labels The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) has filed a petition with USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to eliminate the use of “Product of the USA” and other broad U.S. origin labeling claims for beef products that are potentially misleading to consumers. The group said they view the current “Product of the USA” as not providing a service to consumers as it is not based on any verification program, food safety standard and it does not deliver value back to the cattle producer. NCBA believes that current “Product of the USA” labels are “a disservice to American consumers and cattle producers alike,” the group said. The group pointed out that imported products can be labeled as a “Product of the USA” if they have been minimally processed or repackaged in a USDA-inspected facility. “The Product of the USA label does not meet the expectations of today's consumers and disincentivizes the use of voluntary, source-verified claims that allow cattle and beef producers to more effectively distinguish their product in the marketplace,” said NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “There is a growing desire among consumers to know more about the origin of the food they purchase, and it is critical that producers are empowered with opportunities to market their high-quality beef in a way that allows them to differentiate the source of their product from competitors and potentially increase profitability.” NCBA said they support voluntary efforts that allow cattlemen to get more value of their product via origin labels, marketing initiatives that are voluntary and source-verified. NCBA is advocating for a more appropriate generic label, such as “Processed in the USA." The group said they want to work with USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to educate stakeholders in the industry to develop voluntary, verifiable origin marketing claims that deliver benefits to producers but do not violate U.S. trade commitments.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 14, 2021 |


USDA Requiring Farmers To Resubmit CRP Offers USDA earlier this year announced it had reviewed the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) and put in place higher rental payments, new incentives and more focus on climate change. Given those changes, USDA has now deleted all offers submitted under the continuous CRP signup (Signup 55) and the general CRP signup (Signup 56). USDA said there will be a one-time 10% “inflationary” adjustment for the life of the CRP contract which will be factored into Soil Rental Rates (SRRs). As for the Climate-Smart Practice Incentive effort, USDA said the incentives will be 10% for woody biomass, 5% for grass and legumes and 3% for grass cover types. USDA also said that State Acres for Wildlife Enhancement (SAFE) practices are being moved from the general CRP signup to the continuous signup. CRP offers can be resubmitted starting June 14 with a deadline of July 23 for offers under the general signup and August 6 for the continuous signup. Contracts are to start October 1 for the general signup and for continuous signup offers for re-enrolled or a combination of re-enrolled and new acres. For offers on new acres only under the continuous signup, contracts start the first of the month after the month that the offer has been approved. Those submitting offers under CRP previously will be getting letters advising them of the new signup

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 14, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Back from the weekend, traders will check the latest weather forecasts in search of any change in what has been a generally dry weather pattern for the central U.S. USDA's weekly grain export inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. Crop condition ratings will get the most attention, along with winter wheat harvest progress. Weather Dry conditions that occurred over the weekend mostly follow for Monday. There will be some isolated showers across the Plains, eastern Midwest, and Southeast, but amounts look mostly light. Meanwhile, hot temperatures are expected again across most of the country, continuing stress for developing row crops in the drier areas. Conditions continue to favor the winter wheat harvest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 11, 2021 |


Minor Changes in June WASDE Report The June World Agriculture Supply and Demand Report offers minor changes from last month. This month's corn outlook is for reduced beginning and ending stocks. Beginning stocks are down 150 million bushels reflecting projected increases in corn used for ethanol and exports. Corn used for ethanol increased 75 million bushels, and weekly ethanol production data indicates demand is almost back to levels seen before COVID-19. The season-average farm price received by producers is unchanged at $5.70 per bushel. This month’s U.S. soybean supply and use projections include higher beginning and ending stocks. With higher soybean beginning stocks and no use changes, ending stocks are projected at 155 million bushels, up 15 million from last month. The season-average soybean price is unchanged at $13.85 per bushel. Finally, the outlook for wheat this month is for larger supplies, higher domestic use, unchanged exports, and slightly lower stocks. The projected price is unchanged at $6.50 per bushel, compared to $5.05 for last year. *********************************************************************************** Ag Groups Ready to Defend WOTUS Farm groups are ready to defend the Navigable Waters Protection rule after the Environmental Protection Agency announced intent to repeal and rewrite the rule. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and Public Lands Council, in a joint statement, say, “The NWPR was an immense step forward in rectifying the egregious overreach of the 2015 rule.” NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and PLC Executive Director Kaitlynn Glover says, “Livestock producers, who manage both their private lands and safeguard public lands, have a deep-seated commitment to protecting and improving our waterways — which is why it is so deeply frustrating when EPA opts for government overreach instead of effective, proven public-private partnerships.” NCBA and PLC were instrumental in the repeal of the 2015 WOTUS rule and are currently engaged in litigation to defend the NWPR. American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall states, “We expected extensive outreach, but the announcement fails to recognize the concerns of farmers and ranchers.” *********************************************************************************** JBS Paid Hackers $11 Million JBS paid $11 million to the hackers behind a ransomware attack late last month. In a press release this week, the company confirmed the payment. At the time of payment, most of the company's facilities were operational. However, in consultation with internal IT professionals and third-party cybersecurity experts, the company decided to mitigate any unforeseen issues related to the attack and ensure no data was exfiltrated. JBS USA leadership states, “the payment will “prevent any potential risk for our customers.” The hacker group REvil initiated the cyberattack that shut down JBS packing plants for at least a day. Upon learning of the intrusion, the company contacted federal officials and activated its cybersecurity protocols, including voluntarily shutting down all its systems to isolate the intrusion, limit potential infection and preserve core systems. The company is not aware of any evidence that any customer, supplier or employee data has been compromised or misused as a result of the situation. *********************************************************************************** Major U.S. Ag Groups Call for Bipartisan Infrastructure Package Leading U.S. agriculture groups call for lawmakers to come together on a bipartisan infrastructure package. Led by Farmers for Free Trade, a letter to lawmakers includes support from every step of the U.S. supply chain. The letter comes as negotiations among a bipartisan group of Senators accelerate and Congressional leaders weigh the path forward for infrastructure investments. The letter states, “American agriculture depends on access to new foreign and domestic markets, and that access depends on reliable infrastructure.” Further, the letter states, “We ask all members of the 117th Congress to recognize the importance of infrastructure to the health of the nation’s food and agricultural economy.” The letter focuses on the economic importance of agricultural trade, the importance of infrastructure for ag supply chains and exports, how infrastructure spending will support ag and rural jobs, current deficiencies in ag infrastructure, the benefits of investing in rural broadband and the importance of passing an infrastructure package to compete globally. ************************************************************************************ Canadian Developer Confirms Cancellation of Keystone XL Pipeline TC Energy Corporation, the developer behind the Keystone XL Pipeline in Canada, confirmed the cancellation of the project this week. Construction activities to advance the project were suspended following an executive order by President Joe Biden on his first day in office. The company will continue to coordinate with regulators and stakeholders to meet its environmental and regulatory commitments and ensure a safe exit from the project. TC Energy's CEO states, "We remain grateful to the many organizations that supported the project and would have shared in its benefits.” House Energy and Commerce Committee Energy Subcommittee Republican Leader Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican, states, “Now Keystone XL is officially dead and President Biden’s radical decision is proving to be disastrous for American workers and their families.” However, Environmental Natural Resources Defense Council spokesperson Anthony Swift says, “Keystone XL was a terrible idea from the start,” adding, “It‘s time to accelerate our transition to the clean energy sources that will power a prosperous future.” ************************************************************************************ Organic Valley Hits Record $1.2 Billion in Sales Organic Valley this week announced the company has recorded sales of $1.2 billion for the year ending 2020. With industries in chaos and conventional dairy markets forced to dump milk amid the pandemic, Organic Valley says it “held a stable pay price for its family farms, improved financials, and grew a steady demand for organic milk and dairy.” As more people chose to cook healthy food from home in 2020, Organic Valley experienced consolidated sales growth of 4.5 percent. In addition, an increase in conscious shopping choices by individuals across the country helped the cooperative uphold a stable pay price for its organic family farms. By driving net income, reducing debt, holding pay price, and returning dollars to farmers, Organic Valley made considerable progress in 2020 that will support a long-term future for organic family farms. Compared to 2019, the nation’s largest organic farmer-owned cooperative improved consolidated net income by $48.4 million in 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 11, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Inflation Worries Continue to Build U.S. consumers saw the highest rate of inflation on an annualized basis was up 5% from year-ago levels in May, according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) released by the U.S. Labor Department, the biggest rise in prices in 13 years -- since 2008. Taking food and energy out of the mix as those typically are two of the most volatile price components, the “core” rate was up 3.8% from this point in 2020, the biggest jump since 1992. On a monthly basis, inflation rose 0.6%. One component of the price rise? Used cars and trucks. Those prices were up a whopping 7.3% from April and were one-third of the increase that was registered. A shortage of new vehicles due to a lack of computer chips has consumers turning to the used car market in a big way, prompting car dealers to urge consumers to upgrade their ride. But part of the big increases from year-ago levels is that we're still seeing some of the pressures from the pandemic as bars and restaurants shut down or had very limited operations. The Wall Street Journal notes that situation from May and June last year is called the “base effect.” But the figures immediately rekindled or reawakened the debate over inflation. That has been going on for the past few months and some have declared that this month's data is more evidence that inflationary pressures are building. That is prompting more analysts to think this will result in Fed officials needing to move quicker than they have signaled on monetary policy. The food portion of the component is starting to also manifest itself in higher prices at the grocery store. Indeed, data has been showing prices are rising, but USDA is still not raising its forecasts for overall food prices, grocery store or restaurant prices this year. They still see food price inflation running at or below the 20-year average. But market participants have become more and more convinced that the data on inflation is going to have the Fed start talking about tapering its bond purchases which have been going off at a clip of $120 billion per month. Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has dismissed the concerns, saying the Fed believes inflation pressures are “transitory” and that it is “not time to start talking about talking about tapering” those bond purchases. That is a question he has been asked after every Fed rate setting meeting since early this year. Markets mostly took the inflation data in stride. And that is likely due in part to the fact that there are no Fed officials offering comments this week. Last Saturday (June 5) marked the start of the so-called “blackout” period ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting that concludes June 16. While no Fed officials were scheduled to speak this week, their comments could not go into the current state of the economy or monetary policy. So markets have been left to their own devices this week and will again be on their own when wholesale inflation data comes out next week. As if there were Fed officials commenting or sounding alarm, that might have spooked markets into expecting higher rates coming sooner than expected. But this will still be the focal point when the Fed meeting wraps up on June 16 and Powell again meets with reporters. If he admits that now is the time for the U.S. central bank to start talking about trimming those bond buys, that will be taken as a sign the move could come very quickly. Not everyone is convinced as of yet. Julia Coronado, a former Fed economist and president of MacroPolicy Perspectives LLC, told the Journal she doesn't think recent inflation data call for the Fed to change course. “These price pressures are very narrowly focused on things that seem like they will be obviously transitory,” Coronado said. “Think about this: We are at the most intense moment. It will not get more intense than this. We are reopening. We are blasting stimulus into the economy with a fire hose. We've got monetary policy at maximum stimulation.” She does have a point. And Fed officials have repeatedly signaled they are willing to let inflation run above their 2% target “for some time,” a period of time they have not and will not define. So we will see. If the Fed next week indicates it is time to start talking about tapering those bond purchases, that will start building expectations that interest rates too will be on the rise, and that will be a situation that will need to be watched closely as it means the cost of borrowing money will be on the rise too, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 11, 2021 |


Dairy Donation Program Getting Closer USDA has sent an interim final rule for the Dairy Donation Program (DDP) to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. USDA offered up general guidelines for the program in April based on provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that created the DDP. The program will require that a donation and distribution plan must be submitted to and approved by USDA and 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. The program will also require records related to donating and receiving products must be maintained and available for review and/or audit. Eligibility for the program 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 program will also allow for retroactive reimbursements back to December 27, 2020, when the legislation was signed into law. The rule at OMB will contain more details on that reimbursement rate. The dairy industry has been awaiting the DDP effort, particularly in the wake of the Biden administration ending the popular Food Box program which included dairy products provided to recipients and fostered additional demand for U.S. dairy products.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 11, 2021 |


NPPC Takes Aim At Line Speed Issue At Pork Plants The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is focusing major attention on the March 31 ruling by U.S. District Judge Joan Ericksen vacating portions of USDA's New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) rule that allow qualified pork processing plants to run at line speeds above 1,106 head per hour. NPPC officials told reporters Wednesday if the ruling is not appealed and takes effect at month's end, line speeds at the six affected plants would slow by as much as 25% and reduce overall U.S. pork harvest capacity by 2.5%. The group cited data from Iowa State University Ag Economist Dermott Hayes that found the reduced line speeds will cost hog farmers over $80 million in lost revenue during 2021 alone. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack this week suggested the call for appeal lies with the U.S. Solicitor General and said the case has put the department in an uncomfortable position. NPPC Vice President and Counsel of Global Government Affairs Nick Giordano said the administration's push to bolster supply chains -- including efforts to boost processing capacity at meat plants and support small producers -- is at odds with any decision not to appeal the ruling. “If this thing is unchecked, it is going to disproportionately hurt small producers,” he stressed. “Didn't we just this week have a supply chain initiative announcement? The point: to add capacity.” If allowed to take effect, he said, the ruling will give more market power to meatpackers and hurt producers. Giordano also stressed that the ruling would upend nearly 25 years of operation at higher line speeds for five of the affected plants, which have been enrolled in a pilot program allowing them to operate at current levels since the 1990s. He also pushed back on the assertion by labor unions, who brought the line speed challenge, that removing the limits negatively impacts worker safety. “The data, in fact, don't suggest higher levels of worker injury,” he said. “They suggest lower level of worker injuries at these plants.” The industry is clearly pushing the administration to challenge the court decision, but Vilsack's comments Tuesday gave no indication that would be the case.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 11, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets USDA still has not had a daily export sale announcement in June and the next chance will come at 8 a.m. CDT. The early version of University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index for June is due out at 9 a.m. CDT and is the only official report on Friday's docket. Even so, traders have their hands full keeping up with the latest weather forecasts and digesting Thursday's new estimates from USDA. Weather A line of strong-to-severe storms was moving from the Dakotas and central Nebraska eastward early Friday morning. Models suggest that this line will weaken in the morning as it moves into Minnesota and Iowa, but the southern flank may continue over eastern Nebraska and move south into Kansas later in the day. Scattered thunderstorms are likely to redevelop over the western Midwest later in the day, but not to the strength we saw last night in the Northern Plains, where there were many strong wind reports. A brief cooldown is expected over the northwestern Plains as a front moves through, reducing heat stress for a day or two before temperatures rise next week.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 10, 2021 |


EPA Announces Intent to Revise Definition of WOTUS The Biden administration's Environmental Protection Agency plans to repeal and rewrite the definition of water of the United States, or WOTUS. The EPA announced Wednesday it will repeal the Trump-era Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which replaced the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. rule. EPA Administrator Michael Regan states, “the EPA and Department of the Army have determined that this rule is leading to significant environmental degradation.” A review of the rule requested by President Joe Biden claims stakeholders are seeing destructive impacts to critical water bodies. The Department of Justice Wednesday filled a motion requesting remand of the rule without vacating it. The EPA, along with the Army Corps of Engineers, say they will rework the rule to protect water resources and communities consistent with the Clean Water Act. The agencies say the new rule will reflect input from landowners, agriculture, and state and local governments, along with environmental groups. *********************************************************************************** Ag Coalition Calls for More Ag Research Funding A coalition of agriculture groups and universities calls on Congress and the Biden administration to increase funding for agricultural research. The groups say an increase of $40 billion is needed for agricultural research. In separate letters to President Joe Biden and House and Senate leadership, the groups say, “We strongly support a robust investment of at least $40 billion, for agricultural climate research, agricultural innovation, and agricultural research infrastructure in any comprehensive infrastructure package moving forward.” The coalition says that research makes the food and agriculture sectors a powerhouse of the U.S. economy by providing solutions to short- and long-term challenges. A recent study found U.S. public food and agriculture R&D spending from 1910 to 2007 returned, on average, $17 in benefits for every $1 invested. The federal share of overall R&D spending as a percentage of GDP is now at its lowest point since the 1950s, and food and agriculture lags behind most other federal R&D areas. *********************************************************************************** U.S. Dairy Industry’s Economic Impact Totals $753 Billion The U.S. dairy industry continues to play a strong role in the U.S., supporting 3.3 million total jobs and $41.6 billion in direct wages. The International Dairy Foods Association released the findings in an economic impact report this week. IDFA’s 2021 Economic Impact Study, which measures the combined impact of the dairy products industry, showed the U.S. dairy industry’s economic impact totaled $752.9 billion. IDFA President and CEO Michael Dykes says, "American dairy companies contribute significantly to the U.S. economy, and their impact continues to grow year after year." The newly released figures indicate the U.S. dairy industry now contributes 3.5 percent of U.S. GDP, and $67.1 billion in federal, State and local taxes. For the first time, the total value of exports was included in the study, revealing the U.S. dairy industry is responsible for a total of $6.5 billion in exported goods and reinforces the importance of fair international trade agreements for the industry. *********************************************************************************** World Pork Expo Showcases Top Pork Priorities World Pork Expo this week brings a highlight of pork industry priorities. National Pork Producers Council President Jen Sorenson says, “After a two-year absence, we’re thrilled for the return of Work Pork Expo, showcasing the latest developments in the U.S. pork industry.” The event last year was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic and the year prior over African swine fever concerns. NPPC is using the event to focus on the organization’s priorities in 2021. Those include the federal district court ruling striking down faster harvest facility line speeds. Additionally, NPPC is challenging California's Proposition 12. Set to go into effect next year, it will impose arbitrary animal housing standards that reach far outside the State's borders, while driving up costs for pork producers and consumers. Other near-term priorities for pork producers include expanding export markets, addressing agriculture labor reform, and advocating for measures to ensure foreign agriculture diseases remain outside the country. ************************************************************************************ Meat Institute: California Prop 12 Not Beneficial to Consumers The North American Meat Institute says California's Proposition 12 provides no benefit to consumers and increases breeding sow mortality according to the State's own proposed rule. The California Department of Food and Agriculture released the proposed rule, originally due in September 2019, late last month. The Meat Institute has filed a reply brief recently to its petition to the U.S. Supreme Court. Julie Anna Potts, President and CEO of the Meat Institute, states, "Our petition to challenge the law has the support of more than 20 states." The question is whether the U.S. Constitution permits California to extend its power beyond its territorial borders by banning the sale of pork and veal products sold into California unless out-of-state farmers restructure their facilities to meet animal-confinement standards dictated by California. The Meat Institute says allowing the law to stand "insulates in-state farmers from out-of-state competition, while imposing crushing burdens on out-of-state farmers." ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Applauds Nevada’s Move to E15 Nevada’s Governor over the weekend signed a law requiring the Nevada Board of Agriculture to approve E15 as part of any fuel regulation adopted by July 1, 2021. Growth Energy responded to the news Wednesday, as CEO Emily Skor says, “We’re looking forward to working with retailers across the state to add E15 to their fuel offerings, so Nevadans have greater access to a liquid fuel that reduces their carbon emissions.” A study by Air Improvement Resource, Inc. showed that switching from E10 gasoline to E15 across Nevada could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 148,000 metric tons annually – the equivalent of removing more than 32,000 vehicles from Nevada roads. Once the regulation is finalized, Nevada would be the 47th State to approve E15 for consumers. E15, marketed to consumers as Unleaded 88, is offered at over 2,440 retail sites in 30 states and 230 terminals. Consumers have driven over 21 billion miles on E15 to date.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 10, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Another Water Rule Coming EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will once again seek to come up with a definition of waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) that will replace the Navigable Waters Protection Rule put in place by the Trump administration. But the effort also will not bring back the Obama-era WOTUS rule that was put in place in 2015. EPA said it will embark on a new rulemaking to generate the new rule after undertaking a review of the Trump-era rule. That review, EPA said, indicated it was causing “destructive impacts” to “critical water bodies.” The new regulatory effort, EPA said, would be built on protecting water resources consistent with the Clean Water Act, use the latest science and consider effects of climate change, create a rule that can be practically implemented, and reflects the “experience of and input received from landowners, the agricultural community that fuels and feeds the world, states, Tribes, local governments, community organizations, environmental groups, and disadvantaged communities with environmental justice concerns.” EPA has pledged there will be “meaningful stakeholder engagements” to develop the new rule, which would mean listening sessions or public hearings to generate information for the agency to draft the new regulation. The fact that we are seeing yet again another regulatory process coming on this topic is from an executive order signed by President Joe Bident his first day in office which directed the EPA and Army “to immediately review and, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, take action to address the promulgation of Federal regulations [including the Navigable Waters Protection Rule or “NWPR”] and other actions during the last four years that conflict with these important national objectives.” While touting the review of the NWPR, EPA did not offer much as to that review. They did note that the NWPR did result in several bodies of water in New Mexico and Arizona no longer being subject to the Clean Water Act provisions and that some 300 projects that were conducted after the Trump rule went into effect were ones that would have required some type of permitting or plan under the 2015 WOTUS rule. “After reviewing the Navigable Waters Protection Rule as directed by President Biden, the EPA and Department of the Army have determined that this rule is leading to significant environmental degradation,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “We are committed to establishing a durable definition of 'waters of the United States' based on Supreme Court precedent and drawing from the lessons learned from the current and previous regulations, as well as input from a wide array of stakeholders, so we can better protect our nation's waters, foster economic growth, and support thriving communities.” But therein lies perhaps EPA's most difficult task -- a durable rule. Presumably, the are likely intending that the rule they finalize after a rulemaking process will not be challenged in court as both the WOTUS and NWPR were. That will prove to be a tall order for EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But the replacement for the Trump-era rule will not come immediately. EPA has indicated they will initiate a new rulemaking process. That means we will first see public information gathering done either via public meetings or a request for information via a notice in the Federal Register. Then will come the process of developing a notice of proposed rulemaking that will also have a public comment period. It will have to first be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) as well. Then will be the process of developing a final rule based on the input and feedback to the proposed version. Then another OMB review will be done before a final rule will be promulgated. In all, that process could take several years. And even then, expectations are already that whatever that final rule is, there will be court challenges that will come forth. So we will see. EPA clearly has their work cut out for them to develop a rule that is in their words “durable.” But it will also have to pass muster with the ag community, a constituency that fought the Obama-era plan and so this whole process will need to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 10, 2021 |


Agriculture Bucked Overall Trade Trend In April While U.S. exports in general gained against imports during April, trimming the overall U.S. trade deficit compared with March, U.S. agricultural exports declined in April to $14.5 billion from $15.3 billion in March. Imports, however, held nearly steady at $14.4 billion after being at $14.6 billion in March. That left agriculture with a surplus of $189 million, down from $774 million in March. That brings cumulative U.S. agricultural exports so far in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to $107 billion against imports of $91 billion for a surplus of $15.7 billion. For FY 2021, USDA forecasts U.S. agricultural exports to total $164 billion against imports of $141.8 and result in a surplus of $22.2 billion. If USDA's forecast is on the mark, U.S. agricultural exports would have to average just $11.4 billion for the five remaining months of FY 2021 and imports $10.1 billion. A decline of that degree imports would be somewhat surprising since the value of imports has not been that small since September 2017 while U.S. agricultural exports were under $11 billion for the April-July period in 2020.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 10, 2021 |


Vilsack Says No Decision Yet On Appealing Pork Line Speed Decision USDA has been warning the six hog slaughter plants affected by a U.S. District Court ruling that they should prepare to revert to their old speeds of 1,106 animals per hour at the end of this month. But USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters Tuesday that no decision has been made yet by the Department of Justice (DOJ) on whether to appeal a federal district court ruling that struck down a Trump-era rule allowing unlimited line speeds at certain pork processing facilities. The ruling is set to take effect June 29, with USDA announcing last month it would enforce the decision. Vilsack explained that the six facilities that had been allowed unlimited line speeds under the New Swine Inspection System (NSIS) rule “will have to decide whether or not they want to go back to the 1,106 [head per hour] line speed, or whether they want to make adjustments in terms of adding additional hours, or additional workdays to be able to process the same number of animals that they [currently] process during the course of a day.” He lamented that the case put the department “in a very difficult position,” forced to balance worker safety, food safety and farmer income interests. “Frankly, I don't think USDA should be put in that position,” he remarked, saying his hope is that parties in the case “will figure out a way to move forward with this.” As for an appeal, Vilsack stressed that the decision rests with the Solicitor General at DOJ, not USDA, adding that the ruling itself does not become final until months' end.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 10, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims and update of the U.S. Drought Monitor are due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The U.S. Labor Department will also have the May consumer price index ready at 7:30 a.m. CDT, a number that will be closely watched by outside markets. The U.S. Energy Department releases natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. The latest weather forecasts remain at the top of grain traders' attention Thursday and will probably still dominate prices after USDA's WASDE and Crop Production reports are released at 11 a.m. CDT. At 1 p.m., the U.S. Treasury presents the federal budget for May. Weather Strong thunderstorms are forecast to develop late Thursday afternoon and evening across the Northern Plains. Organized clusters and lines of storms will threaten the area with wind, hail, and tornado threats, but will likely produce widespread moderate rainfall amounts in the severe drought areas. This will be highly beneficial for developing row crops where damage does not occur. Elsewhere, scattered showers will continue from the Great Lakes down to the Gulf of Mexico with some heavy rains yet in the central Delta region.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 9, 2021 |


White House Task Force to Examine Supply Chain Disruptions The White House Tuesday announced a task force focused on short-term supply chain disruptions. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was named co-chair of the task force, along with the Secretaries of Commerce and Transportation. The Department of Agriculture says the task force will convene stakeholders to diagnose problems and find solutions that could help alleviate bottlenecks and supply constraints related to the economy’s reopening. Specifically, it will focus on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been evident, including homebuilding and construction, semiconductors, transportation, and agriculture and food. The White House also released key findings from a review stemming from a supply chain focused executive order. The 100-day study focuses on semiconductors, batteries for electric vehicles, critical minerals and materials and pharmaceuticals. The Interior Department and USDA, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, will also establish a working group. The group will identify sites where critical minerals could be produced and processed in the United States. *********************************************************************************** USDA to Invest $4 Billion to Strengthen Food Systems The Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced plans to invest more than $4 billion to strengthen critical supply chains through the Build Back Better initiative. USDA says the funding stems from lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent supply chain disruptions. The new effort will strengthen the food system, create new market opportunities, tackle climate change, and support jobs throughout the supply chain, according to USDA. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack states, "I am confident USDA's investments will spur billions more in leveraged funding from the private sector and others as this initiative gains traction across the country." Funding is provided by the American Rescue Plan Act and earlier pandemic assistance, such as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. USDA says recent events have exposed the immediate need for action. With attention to competition and investments in additional small- and medium-sized meat processing capacity, the effort will spur economic opportunity while increasing resilience and certainty for producers and consumers. *********************************************************************************** Additional Cattle Markets Legislation Introduced in U.S. House The Optimizing the Cattle Market Act of 2021 introduced in the House of Representatives Tuesday seeks to change cattle market dynamics. Introduced by Missouri Republican Representative Vicky Hartzler, the legislation would direct the Agriculture Department to create a cattle formula contracts library, and increase the reporting window for "cattle committed" from seven to 14 days. The measures, according to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, would increase transparency in the industry and improve the opportunity for robust price discovery. The legislation also reiterates the need for expedited reauthorization of USDA's Livestock Mandatory Reporting program. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane states, “Something needs to give,” referencing market volatility and a shifting regulatory landscape. The use of formulas and grids help producers manage risk and capture more value for their product, but depend upon price discovery that occurs in negotiated transactions. Current research has shown that more negotiated trade is needed to achieve “robust” price discovery within the industry. ************************************************************************************ Prairie-Chicken Listing Threatens Wind Farms A proposal to list the lesser prairie chicken as endangered in parts of Texas and New Mexico is drawing concerns beyond agriculture. The listing could create problems to oil and gas development in the largest U.S. petroleum basin and be problematic for wind power. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the proposal last month for areas in Texas, New Mexico and Southwest Kansas. Bloomberg Law reports the Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a possible mile-wide zone around each wind turbine the agency would assume the bird could no longer live. The Texas Panhandle is one of the country’s most productive regions for wind energy. The wind power industry believes wind turbines don’t severely harm the lesser prairie-chicken. The bird previously was listed as threatened under the ESA. However, a federal judge tossed out the listing in 2015 after finding the Fish and Wildlife Service didn’t account for the oil industry’s voluntary efforts to protect the bird’s habitat. ************************************************************************************ Upper Midwest Farm Credit Associations Exploring Merger The Board of Directors from two Farm Credit associations in the upper Midwest have signed a memorandum of understanding for a proposed merger. AgCountry Farm Credit Services, based in Fargo, North Dakota, and Farm Credit Services of North Dakota, based in Minot, North Dakota, are currently assessing the benefits of a merger for stockholders and finalizing the terms of the merger agreement. The two organizations say the merging of two Farm Credit organizations does not reduce competition as each association serves a specific territory in which they do not presently compete. The objectives of the proposed merger include expanded service offerings, ongoing strong commitment to local communities, increased innovation, improved long-term operating efficiencies, and ultimately, increased value and customer experience for the combined customers/member-owners. In pursuing these objectives, the associations do not anticipate any changes in branch locations or branch staffing due to the proposed merger. The earliest effective merger date would be January 1, 2022. ************************************************************************************ SNAP, P-EBT Accounted for More Than 1/9 of Total Food-At-Home Spending Shutdowns, stay-at-home orders, and the need for social distancing led households to buy more food for consumption at home during the Coronavirus pandemic. In response to the economic downturn and pandemic conditions, emergency allotments were issued to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program households. Additionally, Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer benefits were distributed to households with children missing free and reduced-price school meals. The Economic Research Service says the expansion led to a rapid increase in the dollar amount of these benefits issued to households and redeemed for food at home. In March 2020, food at home spending spiked. In June 2020, redemptions of the benefits peaked at $9.5 billion-making up 13.3 percent of food at home spending that month. The share fell the following three months. Overall, the share of spending attributable to SNAP and P-EBT from April through September 2020 was 11.7 percent, more than one in nine dollars and nearly five percentage points higher than the same months in 2019.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 9, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Another China Flare Up After recent contacts between U.S. officials and Chinese officials appeared to go relatively smooth, the U.S. has now raised the ire of China over Taiwan. Recall that China considers Taiwan to be a part of China, not an individual country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a House committee on Monday the U.S. plans to open trade talks with Taiwan. "We are engaged in conversations with Taiwan, or soon will be -- on some kind of framework agreement," Blinken said in response to a question from Rep. Andy Barr, R., Ky., during the hearing. Blinken declined to provide more information on the topic and referred questions about details to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. A spokesman for Tai's office said that strengthening relations with Taiwan is important, though "we have no meetings to announce at this time." But the response from China was anything but sanguine. Asked about the trade talks with Taiwan, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington said the U.S. should "stop all forms of official exchanges and contacts with Taiwan, stop elevating its relationship with the Taiwan region in any substantive way." The spokesman urged Washington to adhere to decades-old agreements with Beijing, which commit the U.S. to maintaining only formal ties as a condition for formal relations with China. Taiwan is a major source of semiconductors for the U.S., which imported $7 billion last year in chips and $20 billion in other computer and telecommunications equipment out of $60 billion in total imports. That is double U.S. exports to the island, according to Census Bureau data. The Biden administration Tuesday also announced it has wrapped an initial 100-day review of supply chains in some key areas outside of agriculture. The upshot of that review? The United States will target China with a new "strike force" to combat unfair trade practices that the administration says are damaging U.S. supply chains, according to Reuters. The group will be led by the USTR, which has the power to enforce tariffs against China and other countries. News reports also said the Department of Commerce is considering initiating a Section 232 investigation into the national security impact of neodymium magnet imports used in motors and other industrial applications, which the United States largely obtains from China. This comes as imports of U.S. ag goods by China have continued to be strong, with weekly export figures putting up lofty numbers for U.S. corn in particular as China seeks to build up supplies of the grain. The U.S.'s situation with Taiwan and China has always been a dicey. This latest action sets the stage for another friction point between the two sides that should be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 9, 2021 |


DOJ Says Zen-Noh Must Sell Nine Elevators to Complete Purchase of Facilities From Bunge The Department of Justice (DOJ) Antitrust Division determined that purchase by Zen-Noh Grain Corporation (ZGC) of 35 operating and 13 idled grain origination elevators from Bunge North America would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act. Those elevators are primarily along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. In its proposed final judgment, ZGC would be required to divest nine grain elevators in five states along the Mississippi River and its tributaries. DOJ said the action is based in part on ZGC operating in some areas along the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers along with its affiliate CGB Enterprises in competition against Bunge. "The acquisition will eliminate competition between ZGC and Bunge in those locations; as a result, many U.S. farmers are likely to receive lower prices and poorer quality service when seeking to sell their grain," DOJ said in the proposed Final Judgment. ZGC sought to acquire the Bunge facilities for approximately $300 million under an agreement in April 2020. In the proposed Final Judgment, DOJ said there were overlapping draw areas where ZGC would be required to divest included McGregor, Iowa; Albany/Fulton and Shawneetown, Illinois; Caruthersville, Missouri; Huffman, Osceola and Helena, Arkansas; and Lake Providence and Lettsworth, Louisiana. Comments on the proposed Final Judgment are due 60 days from today.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 9, 2021 |


USDA Prerule On Labeling Cell-Based Meat, Poultry Products Under Review At OMB USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has sent a prerule on labeling of meat and poultry products made using animal cell culture technology to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review. The Trump administration targeted April of this year to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on the topic but had no final timeline identified when they included it in their regulatory agenda released in the fall of 2020. A prerule is defined as a rule in the earliest stage of rulemaking, and may include actions agencies are considering that may or may not ever become actual rules, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). Contacts say this is similar to what FDA did on similar issues relative to cell-based products. It is not clear what timeline the Biden administration has in mind relative to this topic, one that will be very closely watched by the U.S. food and agriculture industry.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 9, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts continue to get top attention from grain traders, while there hasn't been much export news to talk about. The U.S. Energy Department will release its weekly energy inventory report at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, possibly showing a fourth consecutive week of ethanol production above 1 million barrels per day. Weather Scattered showers will continue to develop over the eastern half of the country Wednesday with more isolated showers expected in the Plains. Heat continues to be an issue across northern locales, especially where showers have not occurred, stressing developing row crops.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 8, 2021 |


USTR Tai Participates in Meeting with Asia Pacific Trade Partners U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, over the weekend, met with Asia-Pacific trade ministers while also commenting on the U.S.-China trade relationship. Before the meeting, Tai said regarding trade with China, “It’s a relationship in trade that has been marked by significant imbalance -- that is in terms of performance, but also in terms of opportunity and openness of our markets to each other.” The number of talks between the U.S. and China appear to be increasing, with no public signs of progress, according to Bloomberg News. Tai met with members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, largely focusing on trade issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Of note, the members state, “While the agriculture sector has been resilient and international markets have remained relatively stable during the pandemic, it remains one of the most protected sectors in global trade.” The members say they share a view towards achieving substantial progressive reductions in support and protection for agricultural products. *********************************************************************************** May a Busy month for Ag Options Trading CME Group reports the Grain and Oilseed option complex averaged 3.9 million contracts of open interest, the highest mark ever in the month of May. The complex also had an average daily volume of 351,000 contracts, the second-highest mark in May. July Corn ended May with a 41 percent implied volatility, the highest level going back to 2007. July added more than 90,000 contacts of open interest reaching 636,000 contracts, with the $7 calls having the most volume and open interest change. On May 11, Soybean Oil, Soybean Meal, Lean Hog, Live Cattle, Class III Milk, and an Ag broad-based index were added to the suite of CME Group Volatility Indexes. CME Group says the tool is specifically useful in the current Grain and Oilseed markets to understand the change in implied volatility over time and in relation to other Ag products. The indexes are seen as a key indicator of forward risk expectations, noted as implied volatility. *********************************************************************************** NPPC CEO to Retire This Year After 31 years of service with the National Pork Producers Council, including the last 20 as CEO, Neil Dierks has announced his plan to retire by the end of the year. However, Dierks will remain in his role as CEO until the search process for a new CEO is completed and will serve as a strategic counselor during a transition period. NPPC president Jen Sorenson says, “Over the last 40 years, Neil has made countless, lasting contributions to the U.S. pork industry and established NPPC as a leading national advocacy organization.” Dierks started his career in the pork industry when he joined the Iowa Pork Producers Association in 1981 to manage the Iowa Pork Congress. The NPPC Board of Directors has assembled a search committee made up of producer leaders and retained Korn Ferry to lead the search for a new CEO. The NPPC board expects to complete the search by the end of the year. ************************************************************************************ PLC Renews Call for Wild Horse Management The Public Lands Council late last week renewed its call for responsible, proactive management of horses and burros managed by the Bureau of Land Management. PLC says recent activist efforts seek to exploit political transitions and undermine progress toward improved management of wild horse and burro populations on federal lands. PLC adds the recent flurry of misinformation, and inflammatory rhetoric is simply an attempt to hide the truth, being, "there are too many horses and burros on the land, and ecosystems, wildlife, and multiple uses pay the price." Based on environmental analysis that examines forage conditions, water availability and other factors on the landscape, BLM set a nationwide “Appropriate Management Level” of approximately 26,690 horses. Conservative estimates place the number of horses actually on the range at 95,114, which is more than three times the environmentally driven stocking rate set by the federal agency. Estimates from on-the-ground monitoring suggests the population far exceeds 100,000 horses. ************************************************************************************ Food Service Sector Needs Workers to Meet Demand The foodservice industry is opening nationwide with relaxed restrictions following the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, worker shortages are a growing problem, as restaurants must compete with better-paying jobs and unemployment benefits. Operators are raising wages, offering first-day bonuses and some McDonald's locations are even giving new employees iPhones. The foodservice sector provides significant demand for food and agriculture products, which shifted to home dining options or take out during the pandemic. Now, pent-up consumers are looking to dining out, but the sector is behind demand. Federal data shows the foodservice industry added 186,000 jobs last month. Restaurant Business Online reports restaurants now employ 10.8 million workers, recovering 4.5 million workers from the depths of the pandemic. However, the sector remains 1.5 million workers short of pre-pandemic highs. The labor force participation rate was 61.6 percent in May, 1.7 percent lower than last February, suggesting several people have left the workforce and are not yet returning. ************************************************************************************ Teachers Across the Country Share FFA and Agriculture Opportunities Agriculture educators this summer are sharing the story of FFA and agriculture education in their states and communities. More than 82 agricultural education teachers will continue to share the story as part of the National Teachers Ambassadors for FFA program. The program, which began in 2016, provides teachers with the tools to share information about FFA and agricultural education with their communities. Teachers selected for the program receive intensive training in June and July to learn and collaborate on educational resources. Similar to last year, this year’s training will be virtual. National FFA Organization chief program officer Christine White says, “Through this program, we equip teachers with the tools they need to be successful in not only developing future leaders but also in telling their stories.” The ambassadors will present workshops and work with teachers from across the country to brainstorm and share ideas. The ambassadors will also serve as a voice of the organization to teachers across the country.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 8, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Consumer Debt Increasing Consumer credit use expanded again in April, marking the third monthly increase in consumer debt, according to data from the Federal Reserve. The $18.6 billion rise in April was driven mostly by increased use of auto and student loans by consumers, basically matching the March increase of $18.6 billion. Loans for cars and student loans are considered to be non-revolving credit by the Fed, and those increased by $20.6 billion, according to the update for April. And it was a notable increase as it was the biggest since June 2020 when it increased $22.7 billion. But the area that could be a concern is in the area called revolving credit. That's where things like credit cards and store cards are categorized. Consumers have again kept their plastic in their pockets as revolving credit levels decreased by $2 billion in April. This is a continuing trend that has been seen since the pandemic hit last year. In fact, revolving credit is down some 12.2% since the peak in February 2020. Since February 2020, consumers have only increased their revolving credit three months. That has translated into much higher savings by consumers as they appear to be "spooked" by the pandemic and likely job losses, etc. This is sort of a double-edged sword. On the positive side, it signals that consumers have paid down their debt levels relative to high-interest-rate credit cards since the pandemic started. That is a plus. And with more money in the bank they are in a more-sustainable position. But the downside to less credit card use is that consumers are not using their plastic to make large purchases. Often times, consumers have opted to use credit cards to make those bigger purchases and then pay them off over time. The Associated Press quoted Nancy Vanden Houten, senior economist at Oxford Economics, that consumers remain reluctant to use their credit cards as they have instead used stimulus dollars it appears to boost their spending. But she expects that will change. "We expect growth in consumer credit will accelerate in the second half of 2021 as consumers dust off their credit cards, and reopenings and better health conditions incentivize stronger outlays," Vanden Houten said. The big rise in student loans and auto loans helped to bring total borrowing by consumers to $4.24 trillion in April, 0.4% above the mark of $4.22 trillion set in February 2020. Another factor at play could be the housing situation. Consumers are finding that the housing market is white hot with it firmly a sellers' market. Multiple bids for houses are being made when a property comes on the market. And it typically doesn't last long. Plus, those homes are selling at higher and higher prices, another factor which may be tempering the willingness of consumers to pull out their credit cards for run-of-the mill purchases. And the lack of travel is another contributing factor. Without airfare, hotels and rental cars being booked, that is a key way that credit cards get used by most consumers. So we will see. Consumers are in better shape relative to their credit cards even though total consumer debt is back to pre-pandemic levels. At some point, they will start using those credit cards again and that will bring a further boost in consumer demand, helping to keep the economy moving forward, a situation that needs to watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 8, 2021 |


Lawmakers Press USDA On Aid To Contract Growers More than 60 lawmakers are calling on USDA to expedite payments to contract chicken farmers that have been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic, urging USDA in a June 4 letter to dole out the $1 billion in aid approved in December for contract growers of poultry. "We are concerned by the fact that these chicken growers still have not received federal assistance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic," lawmakers said in the letter referencing the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) aid. "We recognize that it is challenging to determine how losses and payments should be calculated fairly, given variations in the timing of when growers receive and finish raising their flocks. Still, we encourage you to proceed swiftly with making fair payments." USDA has previously indicated the aid was coming, but has said that it has to undertake a rulemaking effort in order to send out the funds. Sens. Chris Coons, D-Del., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Reps. Steve Womack, R-Ark., and John Rose, R-Tenn., were key signers of the letter.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 8, 2021 |


USDA Formally Announces Nutrition Program Shifts USDA has outlined its plan for boosting food banks and food purchases, using up to $1 billion from recent congressional spending packages. The information comes in the wake of USDA ending the Farmers to Families Food Box program. However, USDA has insisted that it will use the "best of" from the Food Box effort to make changes to other food/nutrition programs. USDA said it will use nearly $500 million from recent spending packages to expand the network of providers through The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to aid food banks and local organizations in meeting ongoing needs in their communities. Another $400 million will be used by the Agricultural Marketing Service to expand the pool of local and regional farmers and ranchers, including minority farmers, servicing food bank networks. One of the keys in the USDA effort was providing $100 million for storage and refrigeration capacity. The agency will use cooperative agreements with state and tribal governments and local groups that encourage purchases from local, regional and socially disadvantaged producers. The Food and Nutrition Service will use $100 million for a new grant program to help food aid groups meet TEFAP requirements and expand their service to rural, remote and high poverty communities. Meanwhile, USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service issued a thank-you letter to participants in the Food Box effort. "We now have an opportunity to address long-standing issues in the U.S. food system by building it back better," the agency said.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 8, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts will continue to get quick attention from traders early Tuesday. The U.S. Census Bureau reports on the U.S. trade deficit for April at 7:30 a.m. CDT and specific export data from the report will be released by USDA later Tuesday. USDA has not announced a daily export sale since May 27, but traders will pause at 8 a.m. to see if there are any new sales to report. Weather Heat combined with a small disturbance will produce scattered thunderstorms across portions of the Northern Plains on Tuesday afternoon and evening, some of which may be severe. Other showers will develop across the eastern Midwest down to the Gulf of Mexico. Heat continues to be a main weather factor across the north, especially where showers do not occur.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 7, 2021 |


USDA Predicting Record Farm Exports in 2021 The U.S. Department of Agriculture says the fiscal year 2021 will be a good year for American farm exports. In the latest quarterly agricultural trade forecast, the agency says farm exports will total $164 billion, which would be the highest total in history. “U.S. agricultural trade has proven extraordinarily resilient in the face of a global pandemic and economic contraction,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “It’s clear that trade remains a critical engine powering the agricultural economy and the U.S. economy as a whole.” The report projects an increase of $7 billion in trade since the February forecast. USDA notes key factors include record export volumes for several commodities, including corn, soybeans, livestock, poultry, and dairy products. Another major influence is the continued rising demand from China for American ag products. USDA predicts exports to China will be a historic $35 billion. Foreign demand for U.S. corn should remain strong amid unfavorable crop prospects in Brazil and other South American countries, driving projected export totals up another $3.2 billion since February’s forecast to $17.2 billion. Livestock, poultry, and dairy exports are also predicted to rise, while the only two commodities predicted to see a decline are horticultural exports and processed tree nuts. ********************************************************************************************** Legislation Introduced to Repeal Cuban Trade Embargo Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) recently introduced legislation that would relax the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. The Neighbor says the legislation’s goal is to open another avenue for profit for American farmers and ranchers. Moran says the current regulations are limiting revenue streams for farmers, ranchers, and even manufacturers. Moran tells the Kansas City Star that the unilateral trade embargo on Cuba blocks American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers from selling into a market just 90 miles from U.S. shores. “At the same time, foreign competitors like China are benefiting at our expense,” Moran says. “This legislation will expand market opportunities for U.S. producers by allowing them to compete on a level playing field with other countries.” If the legislation gets passed, it will repeal all regulations that restrict doing business with Cuba. “Having the opportunity to export crops like wheat, corn, and soybeans to our neighbors down in Cuba would be a win for farming communities across Kansas and around the country,” says Kansas Farm Bureau President Rich Felts. Studies by the U.S. Trade Commission show that lifting the embargo could potentially increase exports by 166 percent and bring an additional $800 million to the U.S. economy over five years. *********************************************************************************************** Lawmakers Urge Administration to Appeal Damaging Court Ruling Congressional lawmakers are spearheading a couple of letters to the administration asking the USDA and Department of Justice to appeal a recent federal court ruling. If left unchallenged, they say the ruling will cause tremendous financial harm to American hog farmers starting at the end of this month. The federal court’s decision that takes effect on June 29 struck down a provision of the USDA’s New Swine Inspection System allowing for faster harvest facility line speeds. The system got approved for industry adoption in 2019. At a time when the U.S. faces a much-needed increase in pork harvest capacity, the court order will reduce plant capacity at six plants that are currently running at a quicker harvest pace by as much as 25 percent. “While the economic impact to the packers will be significant, it’s the nation’s small-and-medium-sized farmers who will suffer the greatest harm from upstream impacts,” the lawmakers say in the letters. NPPC President Jen Sorenson thanked the lawmakers who spearheaded the letter and urged other lawmakers to join the growing calls for USDA and the DOJ to quickly intervene and “prevent this carnage to hog farmers.” Producers looking for more information about the impact of the court’s decision can go to www.nppc.org. ********************************************************************************************** Global Food Prices Hit Highest Mark in Ten Years Emerging markets across the globe that are struggling to get COVID-19 vaccines may be in for yet another serious challenge: food inflation. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization said last week that its global food price index hit its highest mark since September of 2011. As groceries make up a bigger share of their inflation baskets, developing nations will be hit the hardest. For example, in the United Kingdom, food and non-alcoholic drinks make up nine percent of the averages family’s expenditures. However, in Kenya, it’s one-third of the total. A Reuters article says May’s increase was the biggest month-on-month jump since 2010, which might mean social unrest. The rapid tripling of rice prices in 2008 from Thailand, one of the biggest exporters in the world, sparked rioting in West Africa. The cereals part of the FAO index is just below 2008 levels. Experts say after the hardships caused by COVID-19, consumers in emerging markets likely will have lower tolerance levels for rapidly rising prices. ********************************************************************************************** Indiana’s FFA Leadership Center Hit by Lightning Lighting struck a building last week at the FFA’s Indiana Leadership Center. The Indy Star says while none of the injuries were considered serious, more than a dozen children were evaluated and two of them got taken to the hospital “out of an abundance of caution.” Emergency dispatchers received a call after lightning struck a wood cabin located at the Center. The caller told officials that no one appeared to be seriously hurt, but several children and adults reported minor pain from being shocked by the strike. The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said, “The children involved were not even sure that they’d actually felt something or if it was simply a combination of the extremely loud noise and lights.” Fire crews from several departments reported no damage to the cabin, which is apart from the main FFA Indiana Leadership Center buildings made from metal. Investigators said there didn’t appear to be any fire danger for the structure. *********************************************************************************************** USDA Investing $1 Billion in Emergency Food Assistance Program The USDA says it will be investing up to $1 billion into the Emergency Food Assistance Program to help support and expand the emergency food network. The goal is to help food banks and local organizations serve their communities more reliably when the need arises. USDA will enter into cooperative agreements with state, tribal, and local entities to be more efficient in purchasing food from local producers and investing in infrastructure that enables partner organizations to reach underserved communities more effectively. National Farmers Union is pleased with the USDA announcement. NFU President Rob Larew says no one should have to worry about where their next meal might come from. “It doesn’t need to be that way,” he says. “Family farmers and ranchers work hard to feed their communities, and there is more than enough food to go around.” The organization says by strengthening the nutrition safety net, the administration’s initiative would help mitigate any hunger crisis in America. “It would also give our farmers more options for distributing the food they grow,” Larew says.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 7, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US-China Trade Relations The U.S.-China trade relationship is one that has "significant imbalance," according to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. "There are parts of this trade relationship that are unhealthy and have over time been damaging in some very important ways to the U.S. economy," Tai told reporters over the weekend ahead of a virtual meeting between trade ministers from the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Tai was asked if the U.S. was going to continue the Phase One agreement reached between China and the U.S. by the Trump administration, prompting her comments about the imbalance. "It's a relationship in trade that has been marked by significant imbalance - that is in terms of performance, but also in terms of opportunity and openness of our markets to each other," Tai stated. "The United States is committed to doing everything we can to bring balance back to the U.S.-China trade relationship." Bloomberg pointed to recent contacts between the U.S. and China which included meeting with Tai and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. "While China said that those talks showed the two sides have restarted normal communications, there's been no public sign of any progress on the bilateral tariffs or of discussions over other economic flashpoints between the nations," Bloomberg reported. That is in part as the Biden administration and Tai in particular have indicated there is a review underway of U.S.-China trade relations, including the Phase One agreement. As that review is ongoing, there has been little change in the U.S.-China trade relationship. The U.S. has maintained tariffs on China over intellectual property, steel and aluminum. Those U.S. tariffs prompted a response from China in the form of retaliatory tariffs against a host of U.S. goods. But there has been little else coming from the administration on their plans for the U.S.-China trade relationship. Tai has indicated she plans to build on the trade deal reached in January 2020 and that she respects the continuity of the U.S. policy. But Bloomberg points out there are some signals being sent on the administration's plans for Sino-U.S. relations. The White House's top official for Asia said last month that the U.S. is entering a period of intense competition with China, and the administration last week maintained its Trump-era ban on investment in the U.S. by some Chinese companies. Also, China has continued to make purchases of several U.S. products, including agricultural products like corn. China bought millions of tons of U.S. corn last month but their purchases have fallen off after the surge in purchases. We will get another batch of China trade data this week and that will show their continued step up in imports of U.S. ag goods. But attention will also be on manufactured goods and on energy products, places where they continue to run well behind the commitments they made in the Phase One agreement. But as those in ag are aware, there were many changes undertaken by China as part of that Phase One agreement. So the imbalances that Tai is referring to would appear to be mostly outside of agriculture. That is not to say that all the U.S.-China trade issues in agriculture have been addressed -- they have not. Matters like biotech and the study of ractopamine as a feed additive are two issues where China has not fully implemented terms of the Phase One agreement. From the Chinese side, they have continued to note the U.S. needs to take some actions like removing the tariffs in place in order to further advance the relationship. And they also take exception to Tai's claims that China's market is not as open as it should be. Bloomberg reported that China's Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao argued that China is continuing to open up its economy despite the challenges of the pandemic, listing a number of areas in which it had reduced controls on foreign investment and trade. Further, he also noted that China was "favorably considering" joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the updated Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that Trump pulled out of days into his presidency. The U.S. also wants to rejoin that pact, but has not yet indicated what kind of changes they would like to see for that to take place. That is yet another area in U.S. trade policy that has yet to be fleshed out. U.S. agriculture export forecasts from USDA have China as the top importer of U.S. ag goods, so agriculture has clearly seen a positive, or mostly positive result out of the Phase One agreement. So we will see. As the Biden administration's trade policy toward China and other countries becomes clearer in the weeks ahead, that will be an important matter to watch ahead, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 7, 2021 |


Lawmakers Seize on JBS Situation for Potential Actions Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the JBS cyberattack should be met with an effort to make structural changes to the U.S. livestock industry. Grassley said the cyberattack's fallout showed the risks of industry consolidation that has led to a handful of big companies processing the bulk of America's meat. "If you had 10 companies instead of four, or 20 companies instead of four, we'd be less vulnerable if one of them was hacked," said Grassley, who has proposed legislation that he said would require meatpackers to compete more directly on livestock purchases. "It ought to teach us something, that there have been too many mergers," he said. Grassley and some other farm-state senators in March re-introduced legislation that would require beef processors to make at least half of their weekly livestock purchases on the open market, versus through pre-negotiated contracts. Proponents say the requirement would make cattle markets more competitive and improve prices for ranchers. Other senators proposed a separate bill in March that would set regional minimum cash prices for cattle and increase reporting requirements for processors. House Agriculture Risk Management Subcommittee Chair Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said she is looking closely at the cybersecurity threat to the food supply chain. "This was huge," she told Bloomberg. "The plants are mostly back up now, but even temporary closures can have a big impact, and we saw that with JBS." Expect congressional hearings ahead on the JBS cyberattacks.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 7, 2021 |


USDA Looking to Address Lack of Competition in Livestock Markets USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack told Politico the agency is planning several moves in the coming months to improve cattle market transparency and boost meat processing capacity after complaints of extreme consolidation, Vilsack said. The USDA chief recently said that there needs to be more transparency in livestock markets and he would take "aggressive" action on that front. "Obviously the Department of Justice is going to make its decisions, as it should, but what we can do at USDA is figure out ways in which we can provide support for processing capacity," Vilsack told Politico. "We can provide potentially greater price discovery by having more processing capacity--we may have a cash market that is more transparent, more open and therefore more reliable." Vilsack said USDA can also "take a look" at the Packers and Stockyards Act to "make sure that we are able to take action against unfair, deceptive practices." Meanwhile, a Department of Justice (DOJ) official Thursday said that the agency's antitrust division will focus on the ag industry. Richard Powers, the acting assistant attorney general for antitrust, told a virtual discussion organized by Canada's Competition Bureau, "Agriculture is a priority for us moving forward." He pointed to the DOJ investigation into price-fixing among chicken companies, which has so far netted a guilty plea and $107 million fine for JBS's Pilgrim's Pride, and indictments against Georgia's Claxton Poultry Farms and 10 executives.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday June 7, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Sunday evening and early Monday, traders will be checking the latest forecasts, mainly for rain chances in the U.S. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CDT, followed by the Crop Progress report at 3 p.m. This week's crop condition ratings will include soybeans for the first time in 2021. Weather An upper-level low will produce widespread showers across eastern growing areas Monday. Additional showers and thunderstorms are forecast across Texas, the High Plains, and across the Northern Plains, where showers are sorely needed. Storms across the Northern Plains could be strong to severe, but will be isolated where they occur. Hot temperatures will continue to bake northern areas of the country, especially where showers do not occur. Heat and drought stress continue to be major concerns in these areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 4, 2021 |


Farm Bureau Urging Administration to Address Southern Border Crisis The American Farm Bureau Federation joined all 50 state Farm Bureaus and Puerto Rico Farm Bureau sent a letter to the Biden Administration regarding the country’s southern border. They’re asking the White House to address the surge of undocumented immigrants entering the United States. The increase in illegal immigration is severely impacting farm and ranch families, putting property and personal safety at risk. The letter was sent to the Secretaries of Homeland Security, USDA, and the Interior Department. “We’ve been listening to the concerns of our members and hearing how their livelihoods are being affected by the surge at the border,” the letter says. “Farmers are sharing how their crops and property are being damaged, which is causing financial hardship.” Farm Bureau says landowners are seeing their fences cut, crops destroyed, water sources compromised, vandalism, and litter on their property. The letter points out that local and state border security resources are exhausted and ask the federal government to provide additional resources to secure the border. *********************************************************************************************** House Ag Chair Opposes Biden Tax Proposals House Ag Committee Chair David Scott (D-GA) sent a letter to President Biden regarding his American Jobs Plan and American Family Plan. While he supports the historic nature of the plans, he’s unhappy with some of Biden’s tax proposals to help pay for the plans. Scott says the tax plan will likely hurt farmers even though the tax liability would be put off as long as a farm stays within the same family. “In particular, the stepped-up basis is a critical tool enabling family farming operations to continue from generation to generation,” Scott says in the letter. “The potential for capital gains to be imposed on heirs at death of the landowner would impose a significant financial burden on these operations.” As he understands the exemptions, they would delay the tax liability for those continuing the farming operation until the time of sale, which could result in further consolidation in farmland ownership. That would make it more difficult for young or socially disadvantaged farmers to get into the business. “While I appreciate that the proposal provides for some exemptions, the provisions could still result in significant tax burdens on many family farming operations,” Scott adds in the letter to Biden. ********************************************************************************************** Farmers Paying Higher Rental Rates in Iowa Most farmers in Iowa are seeing a significant increase in what they’re paying for land rents in 2021. That’s according to a new survey from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. The “Cash Rental Rates for Iowa 2021 Survey” shows that rental rates increased by an average of 4.5 percent, which equates to an increase of about $10 per acre. That’s pushed the total per-acre average rental price to $232. Land considered to be high quality saw an average increase of 3.9 percent from $257 to $267 per acre this year. Medium quality land saw a 4.5 percent increase, going from $223 an acre last year to $233 this year. An ISU Economist says this is the first substantial increase in cash rents since 2013, when rents peaked, and four years of declining rents and three years of relatively stable rents followed. The 2021 cash rent survey is based on more than 1,300 responses from Iowans about typical cash rental rates in their counties for land producing corn, soybean, hay, oats, and other land set aside as pasture. ISU Extension reminds producers and landowners it’s not intended to be a price-setter, but to provide something to share between landowners and tenants as they discuss rental rates in future negotiations. *********************************************************************************************** Registration Open for 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show Registration is now open for the annual Cattle Industry Convention and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Trade Show. The event is In Nashville, Tennessee, August 10-12, and filled with activities for the entire family. Cattlemen and women from around the country gather for education, entertainment, and excitement. The importance of gathering face-to-face this year is even more important after the uncertainty of 2020. Convention participants have an opportunity to gain insights on market trends during the CattleFax Outlook Seminar, hear a state of the industry update from NCBA leadership, learn about the cattle industry’s role in sustainability, and wander through the NCBA Trade Show. The trade show is the industry’s largest, featuring more than 350 exhibitors on more than seven acres of space. “The convention always brings producers together, but I think this year’s event will mean even more because we get to see people face to face,” says NCBA President Jerry Bohn. It’s recommended that attendees get registered early as housing fills quickly. For more information, go to convention.ncba.org. ********************************************************************************************** 28 Congressional Members Join Letter to U.S. Attorney General Earlier this week 28 members of Congress joined a letter authored by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Tina Smith (D-MN) calling for reform of policies impacting U.S. cattle and beef markets. R-CALF-USA says 16 Senators and 12 Representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties, along with an independent, co-signed the letter, calling on U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to take action to protect the nation’s cattle farmers and ranchers from going broke due to inexplicably low cattle prices. The congressional signers represent 23 states are also asking Garland to protect American consumers from paying over-inflated prices for beef at their local grocery store. R-CALF USA President Gerald Schreiber says, “We are grateful to the 28 congressional signers on the Rounds/Smith letter who have identified the key factors hindering cattle farmers and ranchers’ ability to continue providing American consumers with an abundant, safe, and affordable supply of beef.” The letter raises concerns that U.S. antitrust laws are either not being properly enforced or they are “not capable of addressing the apparent oligopoly that so plainly exists in cattle and beef markets.”

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 4, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Still in Search of Infrastructure Deal President Joe Biden will meet again Friday with Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R., W.Va., as the two try to hammer out a deal on an infrastructure package. But Bloomberg reports that the clock is ticking and at least one key lawmaker, Rep. Jim Clyburn, D., S.C., is thinking the effort needs to wrap up even if there is not a deal. Biden has insisted on meeting with Capito on the infrastructure plan, with Republicans having upped their offer to just over $900 billion from an initial offer of around $568 billion. Biden, for his part, has trimmed the hoped-for package to $1.7 trillion versus the initial $2.25 trillion he was seeking. The latest developments saw Biden offer another concession to Republicans on a key issue -- the corporate tax rate. Biden initially proposed raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from the current 21%. The lower level was a result of Republicans' 2017 tax package, and they are totally against digging into that package for savings or revenue to be able to pay for the infrastructure effort. Biden offered a minimum tax rate of 15%. But that concession may have been too much for some Democrats. "We are still negotiating," House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D., S.C., told Bloomberg TV. But, he added, "I don't think we should run the risk of not getting something done because the other side is not cooperating." The minimum 15% tax on U.S. corporations, along with strengthened IRS enforcement efforts, was offered by Biden as a way to pay for the infrastructure package without digging into the 2017 tax law. Even as he offered that to Capito and Republicans, White House press secretary Jen Psaki has insisted that Biden still hasn't given up on raising the corporate tax rate. Under that offer, Bloomberg said, is the concept that companies that have lots of tax credits and deductions would be required to pay at least 15%. The proposal would also increase tax revenues by conducting more audits of rich taxpayers. But a key Democrat is also against that rise in the corporate tax rate to 28% -- Sen. Joe Manchin, D., W.Va. He has emerged as a "king maker" of sorts, being a moderate Democratic lawmaker in the 50 Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Manchin made clear that he favored a corporate tax rate more like 25%. Biden indicated at that point that he was open the negotiations. Manchin's vote is key as without his support, any infrastructure package is unlikely to clear the Senate even if budget reconciliation is used. Meanwhile, Clyburn wasn't ready to say Biden should abandon the efforts with Republicans even as he said they seem to be "shall we say, reticent" to reach a deal. However, he told Bloomberg that he thinks the situation is one where Democrats are thinking they are "running out of time" relative to finding a bipartisan agreement. Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., said he has talked to Capito and indicated Republicans are "still hoping to reach a bipartisan agreement with the administration." His hope is that an agreement can be found on infrastructure -- and "fully paid for" -- noting it could be up to $1 trillion in size. But another issue has continued to be raised by farm-state lawmakers relative to other tax provisions suggested by Biden as ways to pay for the package. House Agriculture Committee Chairman David Scott, D., Ga., is the latest to express what he called "serious concerns" on how some of the proposed tax changes could affect farmers, ranchers and other small businesses. "While I appreciate that the proposal provides for some exemptions, the provisions could still result in significant tax burdens on many family farming operations," Scott said in a letter to Biden sent this week. The chairman noted that changes to how taxes are levied on inheritances could make it more difficult for farmers to take over family businesses. The loss of stepped-up basis is of particular concern, as he argued while provisions would not mean those inheriting farmland would have to pay immediately, they still could face a large delayed tax bill. Scott's concerns come despite assurances issued by USDA the evening the tax plan was unveiled that farmers would not be affected by the proposed changes. Already, even before the release, opposition from ag interests over proposals relative to increasing the estate tax helped jettison that from the final proposal. And there is also opposition to the proposed ending of using Section 1031 provisions of U.S. tax law for farmers to sell farm ground and buy other farm ground with the proceeds to defer taxes on the sale. But there is another wrinkle in the situation. The rising expectation had been for Democrats to eventually push President Biden to abandon talks with Republicans on infrastructure and use budget reconciliation to move the package through without GOP support. But Politico is reporting that "The Senate's chief procedural referee has effectively killed a workaround Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., eyed as a bonus opportunity to pass President Joe Biden's agenda without Republican support." So we will see. Clearly the Biden administration appears to have underestimated the concerns that those in the ag community would have over the proposed tax provisions. And the possibility that the Senate may not be able to bypass Republicans in the Senate adds another layer to the situation. The bipartisan opposition to the tax proposals are creating a debate that needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 4, 2021 |


ITA Delays Preliminary Determination on Imports of Organic Soymeal From India The International Trade Administration (ITA) will delay the deadline for a preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation on imports of organic soymeal from India. The investigation was started April 20, and the preliminary determination was originally due June 25. Petitioners in the case made a request to delay that preliminary determination and ITA has now set that as August 30. The request was made to "provide Commerce with sufficient time to analyze adequately all alleged subsidies received by the mandatory respondents during the period of investigation," according to a notice published in the Federal Register. The final determination is still due 75 days after conclusion of the preliminary determination.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 4, 2021 |


JBS Says Cyberattack Situation Resolved JBS USA, the victim of a cyberattack that prompted the company to suspend activity at most of its U.S. slaughter facilities, said Thursday the situation has now been resolved. JBS USA and Pilgrim's announced that all of its global facilities are fully operational after resolution of the criminal cyberattack on Sunday, May 30. As a result, JBS USA and Pilgrim's were able to limit the loss of food produced during the attack to less than one days' worth of production. Any lost production across the company's global business will be fully recovered by the end of next week, the company said, limiting any potential negative impact on producers, consumers and the company's workforce. "Thanks to the dedication of our IT professionals, our operational teams, cybersecurity consultants and the investments we have made in our systems, JBS USA and Pilgrim's were able to quickly recover from this attack against our business, our team members and the food supply chain," said Andre Nogueira, JBS USA CEO. "The criminals were never able to access our core systems, which greatly reduced potential impact. Today, we are fortunate that all of our facilities around the globe are operating at normal capacity, and we are focused on fulfilling our responsibility to produce safe, high-quality food." The company said it activated cybersecurity protocols, including voluntarily shutting down all of its systems to isolate the intrusion, limit potential infection and preserve core systems. In addition, the company's encrypted backup servers, which were not infected during the attack, allowed for a return to operations sooner than expected. "We would like to thank the White House, the USDA and the FBI for their support in quickly resolving this situation," Nogueira stated.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday June 4, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Grain markets have been jumpy this week and the latest weather forecasts will continue to be closely watched. USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, along with the Labor Department's nonfarm payrolls and U.S. unemployment reports. It has been over a week since USDA had an export sales announcement and traders will pause at 8 a.m. to see if USDA can break the silent streak. Weather Temperatures will continue to build well above normal across the northern tier of the U.S. with triple-digit readings indicated for the Dakotas on Friday. Scattered showers will be mostly confined to the East and Gulf Coasts today but there will be a risk of severe storms over the far Northern Plains and into the Canadian Prairies late in the day and overnight. These showers will only be isolated and the heat that exists in the region will worsen drought stress.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 3, 2021 |


Farmer Share of Food Dollar May Grow The latest federal data shows that the farmers’ share of the average U.S. food dollar increased slightly. The USDA’s Economic Research Service tracks yearly spending by American consumers on food, as well as how much of that dollar is captured by each part of the food supply chain. The agency recently released data for 2019 showing that the foodservice industry continues to claim a growing part of the average food dollar, increasing three percent to 38.5 cents in 2019. Farm production was the only other part of the food chain that saw its share of the food dollar increase, but that increase wasn’t a large one. Wisconsin Farmer Dot Com says the farmers’ share of the food dollar rose from a 25-year low of 7.4 cents in 2018 to 7.6 cents the following year. Paul Mitchell, director of the Renk Agribusiness Institute at the University of Wisconsin, says he was surprised by the slight increase after years of decline. “I think part of it was the foodservice side got saturated,” he says. “It couldn’t get any bigger and the farmer share got so low it had to go upward. Once you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.” ********************************************************************************************** POET Ethanol Expands Business by 40 Percent POET announced it has acquired Flint Hills Resources’ entire ethanol business. Reuters says that highlights the largest American biofuel producer’s bet that conventional renewable fuels like corn-based ethanol will play a big role in the push to reduce U.S. carbon emissions. The company says the deal will boost POET’s ethanol production capacity by 40 percent to three billion gallons annually. “Biofuels are one of the best near-term solutions to climate change,” says POET founder and Chief Executive Jeff Broin (Broyne). “We don’t have decades to wait, and biofuels are already here today.” The acquisition includes six biofuel processing facilities that are in Iowa and Nebraska, as well as two terminals in Texas and Georgia. POET, based in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, will now operate 33 biofuel processing operations in eight states. Flint Hills is a refining, biofuels, and petrochemical company based in Wichita, Kansas. It was the fifth-largest ethanol producer in America before the acquisition. The deal will also boost POET’s dried distiller’s grain production to seven million tons a year and its corn oil production to 975 million pounds annually. *********************************************************************************************** Barchart Forecasts a Cut to USDA Corn Yield and Production Numbers Barchart announced its initial 2021 Yield and Production forecasts for U.S. corn and soybeans, which both show a downside risk to the USDA’s projected numbers from its May WASDE Report. The company now says the end-of-season U.S. corn production is forecast at 14.5 billion bushels, with a yield of 173.5 bushels per acre. That’s compared to the USDA production forecast at 15 billion bushels and a 179.5 bushel per acre yield. Barchart’s end-of-season soybean production forecast is 4.3 billion bushels with a yield of 49.5 bushels per acre. That’s compared to the USDA production forecast of 4.4 billion bushels and a yield of 50.8 bushels per acre. A statement from the company says, “Our initial 2021 forecasts suggest potential downside for both corn and soybean production relative to the USDA numbers, and we’re happy to help provide insights like this to the public.” The company releases yield and production forecasts on the first Tuesday of each month during the growing season. ********************************************************************************************** New Soybean Seed Trait Delivers on Consumer Preference, Farmer Bottom Line The U.S. soy industry is continuing to drive demand through innovation for soybean farmers and end-users. With funding and support from the soy checkoff, the Missouri Soybean Merchandising Council is leading the effort to build momentum for SOYLEIC (Soy-LAY-ick), a non-GMO soybean variety containing high oleic trait technology. This variety will give farmers a chance to meet end-user high oleic oil needs for specific markets. “SOYLEIC is the latest example of the value the checkoff brings to soybean farmers by providing research funding investments that result in innovations farmers can put to work right now to maximize profit opportunities,” says Meagan Kaiser, USB Treasurer. “The reliability that U.S. soybean farmers provide can meet end-user demand, expand and strengthen market share in the food industry, and diversify their acres, furthering profitability on the farm.” SOYLEIC seeds are going into about 40,000 acres across 14 states from Georgia to Minnesota during the 2021 growing season. A new website, www.soyleic.com, is now available for more information for farmers, researchers, chefs, and health-conscious consumers. High oleic soybean oil provides increased functionality and contains zero trans-fat. It creates nutritional food for humans and feeds for animal diets while offering a diversified and value-added planting option for farmers. ********************************************************************************************** World Pork Expo Returns Next Week The World Pork Expo makes an official return to the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, June 9-11. The National Pork Producers Council presents the Expo, and this year will mark the 33rd annual event. Thousands of producers and industry professionals will gather to learn about the latest technologies, innovations, enjoy some free pork, and much more. “We’re so excited to gather for the first time since 2018,” says NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “This year’s Expo has an outstanding lineup of seminars, networking opportunities, and more that aren’t to be missed.” The trade show will feature over 700 vendor booths and span more than 30,000 square feet. Companies from North America and around the world will be presenting products and services during the event. The Expo will feature 19 educational sessions, including 13 business seminars to inform attendees about ecosystems, new production systems, climate neutrality, and more. Six Pork Academy seminars will give producers a chance to learn more about nutrition, sustainability, data collection, and more. Attendees who missed the chance to register online can register there at the event by going to the Animal Learning Center. *********************************************************************************************** Competitive Bidding Pushes Land Prices Higher Interest in buying agricultural land continues to grow after a COVID-19 slowdown blanketed the land market in 2020. A Farmers National Company release says farmers are feeling more financially secure because of rising commodity prices and large government payments last year. That is causing farmers to be more aggressive in bidding for additional land than has been the case during the last six years. “Farmland sales prices are up 5 to 15 percent in the past six months, with most of the increase coming since the first of the year,” says Randy Dickhut (DICK-hoot), senior vice president of real estate operations with Farmers National. “Competitive bidding among interested buyers is really pushing land prices right now.” The biggest increases are happening in the Grain Belt and with most types of land. “We’re seeing competitive bidding push prices for good cropland to levels approaching 2014 values,” Dickhut says. “Average to lower-quality farms are seeing stronger selling prices too, while pastureland increases are more modest.” He also says the demand for good farmland is outstripping the supply of available farms for sale.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 3, 2021 |


Washington Insider: USTR Talks DST But Holds Off Tariffs The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Wednesday announced results of Section 301 investigations of digital services taxes (DSTs) with several countries, reaching the conclusion that the countries' actions were enough to warrant the U.S. to impose sanctions. But, USTR also announced that it would hold off on imposing tariffs on around $2 billion in goods from the countries in question for six months in order to have the issue get worked out in an international forum. USTR found in January that DST actions by Austria, India, Italy, Spain, Turkey, and the UK discriminate against U.S. digital companies, are inconsistent with principles of international taxation, and burden U.S. companies. The list of duties that would have gone into effect was sizable for several countries as they would have targeted goods totaling $887 million worth of UK goods, $386 million of Italian goods, $323 million in Spanish goods, $310 million in Turkish goods, $118 million in Indian goods, and $65 million in Austrian goods. USTR based the levels on what they deemed to be the amount of tax that U.S. companies would have had to pay those countries. So instead of putting the tariffs in place, USTR announced the 180-day suspension is aimed at letting international efforts underway at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Group of 20 (G20) countries to come to an agreement over DSTs. "The United States is focused on finding a multilateral solution to a range of key issues related to international taxation, including our concerns with digital services taxes," USTR Katherine Tai said in a statement announcing the decisions. "The United States remains committed to reaching a consensus on international tax issues through the OECD and G20 processes." However, Tai indicated that the U.S. could still come back an impose tariffs under Section 301 of U.S. trade law "if warranted in the future." A pattern is starting to emerge relative to the Biden trade policy. In areas where they are seeking a deal, they are willing to hold off on imposing new tariffs like the DST issue. They also appear to be willing to suspend tariffs in order to get a deal worked out in other disputes, like the civilian aircraft dispute where the U.S., EU and UK all imposed tariffs that were sanctioned by the WTO. In March, the U.S. and EU and separately the U.S. and UK announced four-month suspensions of the retaliatory actions in the civilian aircraft disputes in order to try and reach a deal. The aircraft dispute has its origins going back some 16 years. Some trade experts question whether suspending the tariffs in hopes of getting a deal will merely provide a period of tariff relief as opposed to getting the issue settled given the length of time and differing officials that have dealt with the issue have come and gone. But their willingness to suspend tariffs is not yet a broad-based U.S. trade policy stance. Take the Section 232 duties on imports of aluminum and steel. Those remain in place and rising numbers of companies and others are calling on the Biden administration to remove those. Their arguments that they are costing U.S. businesses apparently have not reached the point of the administration thinking they could further resolve the steel overcapacity issue if the tariffs were at least suspended for a period of time. That is likely due to the fact they are focusing on China and the overcapacity in steel production that China has built up. It's almost surprising that the tariffs have not been lifted against some U.S. allies in exchange for getting some kind of pledge from those countries that they will get on board and help the U.S. take on China. And then there are the tariffs imposed on China under Section 301 relative to intellectual property. Those tariffs remain in place as do the retaliatory actions that China responded with. And there has been little talk of those tariffs being removed. The Biden administration has made clear those tariffs are not going away soon even as China has called for them to be taken away. So while tariff suspensions are clearly a tool in the U.S. trade policy toolbox, it hasn't been cemented in place as a consistent policy. That makes these trade issues all that more important to follow for agriculture as the sector has been the one hit with tariffs even though their products are not at the heart of the disputes in question. Still, the disputes where these tariff suspensions have taken place will be important to watch, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 3, 2021 |


China's Liu, US Treasury's Yellen Hold Discussion Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen held a virtual discussion Wednesday morning via video as part of the China-U.S. comprehensive economic dialogue. The discussions took place after Liu last week held discussions with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. Liu and Yellen "conducted extensive exchanges on the macroeconomic situation and bilateral and multilateral cooperation, candidly exchanged views on issues of mutual concern, and expressed willingness to maintain communication," according to a report from Xinhua. Both sides agreed China-U.S. economic relations were "very important." The Treasury Department said in a brief statement that Yellen had discussed U.S. plans to "support a continued strong economic recovery and the importance of cooperation on areas that are in U.S. interest," while at the same time "frankly" talking about issues of concern. Yellen noted that she looked forward to further discussions with Liu, the statement said

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 3, 2021 |


USDA Announces New Cover Crop Component for Crop Insurance USDA this week announced producers who planted cover crops and have coverage under most crop insurance policies are eligible for premium support for the 2021 crop year, part of USDA's broader Pandemic Assistance for Producers (PAP) initiative. The Pandemic Cover Crop Program (PCCP) offers producers crop insurance premium support of $5 per acre, but not more than the full premium owed. Producers who insured a spring crop and planted a qualifying cover crop are eligible for the support. To qualify, producers must file an acreage report with FSA by June 15, a month earlier than the normal crop reporting date of July 15. And, farmers in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa have existing premium benefits for producers who plant cover crops. But USDA said that those producers will receive an additional benefit under PCCP.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday June 3, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets ADP reports on U.S. private sector job growth at 7:15 a.m. CDT Thursday, an early hint of how the May jobs report will go on Friday morning. U.S. weekly jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor will be out at 7:30 a.m. CDT. The U.S. Energy Department has its natural gas inventory report at 9:30 a.m., followed by the weekly energy inventory report at 10 a.m. CDT, including ethanol production. The latest weather forecasts will be closely watched while USDA's weekly export sales report is pushed to Friday morning. Weather A system will continue to move through the Ohio Valley Thursday with showers from the eastern Midwest down to the Gulf Coast. Scattered showers will continue across Texas as well, but other areas will remain dry. Heat is building across the northern tier of the country with heat advisories currently over Montana and more to come across the Dakotas and Minnesota. The heat will exacerbate dry conditions across the Northern Plains and northern Midwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 2, 2021 |


May Ag Economy Barometer Tumbles The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer tumbled significantly in May, dropping 20 points to an index reading of 158. It marks the lowest point for the survey since September of 2020. Producers were less optimistic about both the current conditions and the future of the agricultural economy. The potential for changing tax rules and rising input costs appeared to be top of mind for producers this month and were the primary causes for the barometer’s decline. Of the total number of respondents, 78 percent said they are very concerned that the changes in tax policy being considered will make passing their farm on to the next generation more difficult. Also, 83 percent of producers expect capital gains tax rates to rise over the next five years, and 71 percent are very concerned about the potential loss of the step-up in costs basis for inherited estates. Producers expressed less optimism about their farm’s financial performance this month. The Farm Financial Performance Index declined to 126 from a record high of 138 in April. During May, more producers said they expected to reduce their machinery purchases and construction plans for the upcoming year. One place that farmers remain bullish is farmland values. *********************************************************************************************** NCBA Pushing Congress to Address Areas of Concern The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association led a letter supported by 37 affiliate state cattle associations, urging Congress to address critical areas of concern in the cattle and beef industries. They’re asking leaders of both the Senate and House Agriculture Committees to consider swift Congressional action in several areas, such as expanding beef processing capacity. They also want to broaden labor policies to strengthen the beef processing workforce, increase transparency in cattle markets by reauthorizing Livestock Mandatory Reporting, and they want Congress to support industry efforts to reform “Product of the USA” generic labeling. They also want Congress to ensure proper oversight of cattle market players by concluding the ongoing U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into the meatpacking sector. “Cattle producers across the country are frustrated, and with good reason,” says NCBA President Jerry Bohn. “In sale barns and state meetings across the country, we’re hearing the same story of sky-high input costs and intense market volatility.” As much of the country comes out of COVID-19 restrictions, consumer demand for U.S. beef remains strong, and producers have enough cattle to meet the demand. The profits from high boxed beef prices are not being passed on to the producers who supply the live cattle. ********************************************************************************************** USCA Responds to “Beef Market Myths” Report on Capitol Hill A report titled “Common Beef Marketing Myths and Facts” from the North American Meat Institute is being circulated on Capitol Hill. U.S. Cattlemen’s Association President Brooke Miller says the organization appreciates the commitment of U.S. livestock groups to expanding the capacity of the nation’s meat processing facilities. “However, it would be helpful if the meatpacking lobby, too, focused their attention on that goal,” Miller says. “We need proactive solutions at this time, such as research and development of markets for offal and hides, working with trade schools and colleges to recruit skilled labor into the industry, and to address the underlying challenges driving the critical labor shortage across the U.S.,” Miller says the report is neither “proactive nor solutions-oriented.” USCA also says it will continue to champion true price discovery and competition in the cattle marketplace. “We’ll continue to support the Department of Justice in its investigation of the U.S. meatpacking sector,” Miller adds. “In the meantime, we would greatly appreciate the opportunity to work with NAMI on solutions that support a sustainable future for U.S. cattle producers.” *********************************************************************************************** Vilsack Highlights Ag in President’s Budget Proposal Late last week, the White House released President Biden’s proposed budget for the fiscal year 2022, calling for $6 trillion in spending as well as controversial tax provisions. The Hagstrom Report says the president’s budget calls for USDA discretionary spending at $27.9 billion, a 16 percent increase over the previous year. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says the proposal calls for $700 million requested for the Reconnect Program to provide access to quality broadband for rural residents. The proposal would invest in critical research and development capacity for farmers. Vilsack says American farmers must be able to compete in world markets to thrive, all while protecting the health of America’s soil and water. The budget request would provide $4 billion for USDA’s research, education, and outreach programs focused on making investments in agricultural research to put science and data-driven tools and American technologies in the hands of farmers. The budget also increases funding for climate-smart agriculture, climate resilience, and clean energy by almost $1.5 billion. House Ag Committee Chair David Scott says he applauds the focus in the budget on important investments in rural America and food systems, particularly in rural broadband. ********************************************************************************************** Crop Insurance Pays Out Premium Benefit for Cover Crops Agricultural producers who have coverage under most crop insurance policies are eligible for a premium benefit from the USDA if they planted cover crops during this crop year. The Pandemic Cover Crop Program, offered by USDA’s Risk Management Agency, helps farmers maintain their cover crop systems despite the financial challenges caused by COVID-19. “Cultivating cover crops requires a sustained, long-term investment, and the economic challenges caused by COVID-19 made it financially challenging for many producers to maintain cover crop systems,” says RMA Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy. “Producers use cover crops to improve soil health and gain other agronomic benefits, and this program will reduce producers’ overall premium bill to help ensure producers can continue this climate-smart agricultural practice.” The program provides premium support to producers who insured their spring crop with most insurance policies and planted a qualifying cover crop during the 2021 crop year. The premium support is $5 per acre, but no more than the full premium owed. All cover crops reportable to FSA are eligible and include cereals and other grasses, legumes, non-legume broadleaves, as well as mixtures of two or more cover crop species planted at the same time. ********************************************************************************************** New Market for U.S. Soybeans Emerging in Africa The U.S. Soybean Export Council is continuing its work to develop new markets for U.S. soy. One of those new regions is Sub-Saharan Africa, the area south of the Sahara Desert consisting of more than 50 countries. USSEC says the region demonstrates a lot of factors that make it a valuable potential soy market. There’s a growing population that exceeds one billion, and it’s expected to double in size by 2050. That makes Sub-Saharan Africa one of the most substantial “frontier markets” in the world. The economic conditions in the region are getting stronger, with the annual GDP growth rates between 2 and 6.5 percent. Projections for the recovery and growth in the region are positive coming out of COVID-19 during 2020. People in the region are also taking steps to address protein deficiency as awareness, knowledge, and investment to combat the shortage continue to grow. USSEC says the African Development Bank Group is working to increase livestock ownership to help fill in dietary gaps and make an impact on nutrition in the region. Soybeans will play a key role in helping produce protein sources like milk, eggs, and fish.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 2, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Cyberattack Impacts Major US Meatpacker The ransomware attack that hit global meatpacker JBS affected its Australian and U.S. IT systems, and Politico is reporting that the company has told the White House they think it was a "criminal organization likely based in Russia." And the White House responded to the situation by prodding Russia on the situation, the second such major cyberattack on a U.S. company. "The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbor ransomware criminals," White House principal deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday. USDA has reached out to other U.S. meatpackers to alert them of the situation and Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration is seeking to "determine what we can do to mitigate any impacts as they may become necessary." JBS has reduced shifts or shut plants in the U.S. in Greeley, Colorado, Cactus, Texas and Ottumwa, Iowa, as a result of the cyberattack. A statement released by the company indicated it could "take time" to resolve the situation and there could be sales delays as a result. Plants in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Nebraska were also affected. "The company took immediate action, suspending all affected systems, notifying authorities and activating the company's global network of IT professionals and third-party experts to resolve the situation," the statement said. "The company's backup servers were not affected, and it is actively working with an Incident Response firm to restore its systems as soon as possible." Given the supply disruptions that emerged along the U.S. East Coast after the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack, there are rising concerns that meat supplies could be interrupted due to the situation. And, if slaughter plants are dark for any extended period, it will back live animals up in the system and reignite supply disruptions that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. Already, meatpacking plants have been dealing with labor shortages as worker absenteeism has been running higher than normal. So, the longer any cyberattack-linked shutdowns last, the potential for supply interruptions rises. It potentially has already impacted some daily USDA livestock reports, including the midday updates on wholesale boxed beef and pork reports. USDA said the reports were delayed due to "packer submission issues." This also raises another potential issue as more and more automation has been deployed in meatpacking facilities. Those systems are computer driven, and if computer systems are down, that could also play a role. And that raises yet another issue for things in the future if the industry continues to shift toward more automation and less human involvement in the processing of pork, beef and poultry. But this situation has revealed once again that computer networks remain a vulnerable point across several areas of the U.S. economy. These attacks will continue to keep the issue in focus, but it is not clear how fast government can respond to be able to do much more than retroactively get involved in the situation. As lawmakers continue their focus on consolidation in the U.S. meatpacking industry, this adds one more area of focus to the calls by lawmakers like Sen. Chuck Grassley, R., Iowa, and others for congressional hearings on the matter. JBS is the world's largest meatpacker and it controls around 25% of all U.S. beef capacity and roughly 20% of its hog slaughter capacity. Plus, they are also a major poultry market player with the Pilgrim's Pride business. And some retail deliveries of product there have already been reported. So, we will see. These two cyberattacks have continued to signal that bad players in the world are still at it and by tapping into two key areas of the U.S. economy -- food and energy -- it creates a situation that needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 2, 2021 |


Dairy Margin Coverage Payments Triggered Again in April Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) payments were triggered again in April as the difference between the national all milk price and the national average feed cost (margin) was below several of the producer-selected margin triggers. The national margin for April was $6.94 per hundredweight (cwt), triggering DMC payments for those that elected Tier 1 margin coverage levels from $7 per cwt to $9.50 per cwt, and for those with Tier 2 margin coverage levels from $7 per cwt to $8 per cwt. The payments range from $0.06 per cwt for those with $7 margin coverage to $2.56 for those with $9.50 per cwt margin coverage. As of May 17, USDA said that an estimated $344 million had been paid out to dairy producers opting for the DMC program. Payments have been triggered for January-April this year.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 2, 2021 |


Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Closes to New Applications The federal government's Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) closed to new applications Friday as funding was on track to be exhausted. That marked the end of a $961 billion emergency effort that helped millions of small businesses survive the pandemic but included fraud claims and criticism that it did not reach the neediest businesses. The program had been scheduled to end on May 31, but the Small Business Administration on Friday said in a notice to lenders that "due to the high volume of originations today, the portal will be closing for new originations that evening." U.S. ag interests also fought details of the program in order to be considered eligible for the aid, and there were ag-specific enrollment opportunities during 2020 that afforded farm businesses to tap the aid.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday June 2, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders will keep close watch over the latest weather forecasts and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has an export sale announcement. The only official report on Wednesday's docket is the Federal Reserve's Beige Book, due out at 1 p.m. The Energy Department's weekly inventory report is moved to Thursday, due to this week's holiday. Weather A system moving through the Ohio River Valley will bring showers to the southern and eastern Midwest down to the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday. More isolated to scattered showers will continue across the Southern Plains as well. But heat will continue to build across the Pacific Northwest and into the Northern Plains over the next few days. The heat will continue to exacerbate the ongoing droughts and lead to further damage to wheat.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 1, 2021 |


Regional Farm Credit Conditions Improving Further strengthening of the U.S. ag economy bolstered farm credit conditions in the first quarter of 2021. A Federal Reserve survey of agriculture credit conditions shows farm loan repayment rates continue to improve rapidly. After many years of growing financial stress and weakness in the ag economy, bankers reported that farm income was higher than a year ago for the second consecutive quarter, and demand for farm loans weakened. Interest rates on farm loans remained at historic lows during the quarter. Along with the better financial conditions, the lower interest rates helped to support widespread increases in farmland values. Stronger markets for most of the major commodities have led to higher prices and expanding profit opportunities across the sector in recent months. With the help of robust government support due to COVID-19, ag sector conditions have led to a rapid improvement in farm finances. While prospects aren’t as strong in the cattle industry, and drought continues to stress producers in many areas of rural America, the overall outlook for farm income and credit conditions remained significantly improved from recent years. ********************************************************************************************** Brazil Drought Worst in 91 years Brazil faces its worst drought in 91 years, causing the government to issue a drought alert. Late last week, an agency that’s a part of the Brazil Mines and Energy Ministry recommended the country’s water regulator to recognize a state of “water scarcity” after a prolonged drought-hit central and southern parts of the Parana (Pah-RAHN-yah) River basin. Financial Post Dot Com says a weather monitoring agency that’s part of the Agriculture Ministry issued its first “emergency drought alert” for June through September, saying that rains are likely to remain scarce in five Brazilian states during that period. The lack of rain across Brazil is hurting their agricultural commodities, livestock, and electricity generation as Brazil relies heavily on hydro dams for power. Drier-than-normal weather is especially hard on the second-corn crop, sugar, and coffee. Coffee futures recently hit a four-year high as traders are concerned that drought could even affect the 2022 crop. As they try to deal with the trouble, the Mines and Energy Ministry announced measures aimed at adjusting water levels that supply the country’s hydro dams to try and prevent power shortages. *********************************************************************************************** Corn Exports Sales Jump While Bean and Wheat Sales Fall Corn sales to overseas buyers rose while beans and wheat sales dropped during the seven days ending on May 20. The USDA says corn sales totaled 555,900 metric tons, up from almost 278,000 metric tons a week prior. Mexico was the big buyer at just over 378,000 metric tons, while China bought 168,000. The USDA report says unnamed countries canceled shipments worth 70,500 metric tons. Sales for the 2021-2022 marketing year that begins on September 1 were reported at 5.69 million metric tons. China bought 5.64 million tons, followed by Panama at just shy of 132,000 tons. But the agency says large cancellations expected during the week ending on May 20 didn’t materialize. Exports for the week hit 529,000 tons, down seven percent from the prior week. Soybean sales dropped 34 percent from the previous week, coming in at 55,900 metric tons. That number was 65 percent lower than the previous four-week average. Indonesia was the top buyer at 74,900 metric tons. For the 2021-22 marketing year, sales totaled 248,300 tons as Mexico bought 162,500. Exports totaled 294,600 tons, down 12 percent from the previous week. Wheat sales for delivery in the 2020-2021 marketing year that ended on May 31 fell 76 percent to 29,500 metric tons. ********************************************************************************************** Argentina Cattle Producers Ban on Sales Continues Argentina ranchers are protesting the government’s decision to suspend beef exports by halting their sales of cattle. One of the country’s beef producer associations announced the halt will continue through Wednesday, June 2. The sales strike began several days ago when the country said it will ban beef exports for 30 days because high food inflation has caught the attention of officials ahead of the mid-term elections in Argentina. Groups protesting the decision issued a statement saying, “The policy path chosen by the government will not achieve the stated goal of lowering domestic meat prices.” Reuters says the export ban pushed agriculture groups to halt the trading of livestock as tensions continue between the country’s farm sector and government, which is dealing with a forecast of consumer price inflation at 50 percent this year. Farm groups in Argentina are asking the government to address inflation by printing fewer pesos. A source from the Argentina Meat Exporters Consortium tells Reuters that, “There is a permanent dialogue with the government. The problem is we can’t find a solution.” Argentina exported over 897,000 tons of beef in 2020, which was worth 2.7 billion dollars. ********************************************************************************************** EPA Opens Application Period for Grants Dedicated to Sustainable Pest Control The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting applications for a 1-million-dollar grant initiative through the Pesticide Environmental Stewardship Program. The program, according to the EPA, encourages smart, sensible, and sustainable pest control in agriculture. Through the grants, EPA will support projects that explore innovative practices, technologies, education, and non-regulatory solutions that adopt integrated pest management strategies. While traditional pest control involves the routine application of pesticides, IPM focuses on pest prevention and only using pesticides as needed. EPA’s Michal Freedhoff says, “The work done under these grants supports the agency’s goal of providing a cleaner and healthier environment for all Americans.” EPA anticipates awarding approximately $1 million in total federal funding to support ten projects – one from each EPA region. Applications must be submitted by July 9, 2021, to get considered. The partnership program has previously invested nearly $4 million annually. Awarded projects will start in the fourth quarter of 2021. Grant applications can be sent online at www.grants.gov. *********************************************************************************************** NCBA/PLC Disappointed with Prairie Chicken Ruling The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the Public Lands Council expressed their disappointment in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency decided to move forward with the Endangered Species Act Designation for the Lesser Prairie Chicken. The decision designates two Distinct Population Segments of the species. The Northern DPS is southeastern Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and the northeast Texas Panhandle, where the birds will be listed as “threatened.” The Southern DPS that covers New Mexico and the southwest Texas Panhandle will now list the species as “endangered.” NCBA and the PLC say the decision to implement restrictive ESA protections for the species after decades-long conservation partnerships directly cuts the incentive to continue effective public-private partnerships. “The scientific data supports our belief that voluntary conservation work led by producers is the most effective way to provide stability for the birds and their habitat,” says Kaitlynn Glover, NCBA Executive Director of Natural Resources and Executive Director of the Public Lands Council. “After years of successful voluntary conservation efforts and the development of meaningful partnerships, the ESA designation of the Lesser Prairie Chicken is severely disappointing.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 1, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Overtures From Europe Bloomberg is reporting that the European Union (EU) is now seeking to mend the fences with the U.S. and seeking to rekindle what is typically a strong relationship. The EU has sent President Joe Biden "a proposed joint statement to smooth over recent conflicts and give a boost to the trans-Atlantic alliance to confront China and Russia," the report noted. The new offering from the EU seeks to move the U.S.-EU relationship beyond trade disputes and address tariffs imposed during the Trump administration that have applied to more than $18 billion in goods. The effort is with an eye on an EU-U.S. summit in Brussels on June 15. The draft argues that shared values and interests will help both sides meet "unprecedented global challenges." The EU, according to Bloomberg, said in the document that they will "closely consult and cooperate on the full range of shared challenges and opportunities in the framework of our respective similar multi-faceted approaches to China." That, no doubt, is music to the ears of the Biden administration as they have publicly been seeking to enlist other countries and trading partners in addressing issues with China. But the EU did not stop at China, as Bloomberg said the document also addressed Russia. "We stand united in our principled approach towards Russia and we will respond decisively to its repeating pattern of negative behavior and malign activities," the document said. That has become another thorny situation for the Biden administration to deal with in the initial stages of Biden's presidency. Expectations for Biden's first foreign visit as president are that the two sides will seek to establish closer cooperation on China, Russia and no doubt the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 situation. And timing is key -- Biden meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva the next day after his session with the EU. But this is hardly a surprise. The EU has been making conciliatory gestures for the last several months, including their agreeing to a four-month hiatus of the tariffs each have imposed over the large civilian aircraft disputes involving Airbus and Boeing. And contained in that announcement was a clear mention of the two wanting to address China's actions. The two partners need to address "the trade distortive practices of and challenges posed by new entrants to the sector from nonmarket economies, such as China." And the EU and China have seen a rise in their tensions. In March, Bloomberg noted, China retaliated against Western sanctions over human rights in the Xinjiang region by announcing measures against 10 individuals and four entities from Europe. And EU lawmakers have committed that as long as China has sanctions on those officials, the bloc will not ratify an investment agreement between the two. Of course, the document is still subject to change, Bloomberg pointed out, but currently said the two want to "join forces to prevent and peacefully resolve conflicts, uphold the rule of law and international law, and promote human rights for all." But there are also challenges in this desire by the EU to have a closer relationship with the U.S. For example, global tax issues remain a sensitive subject from both sides and a reading on that issue will come when G7 finance ministers meet at the end of the week ahead of the G7 summit next week. Plus, look for climate change to be another area where both will seek to broaden their relationship. But there is a hot political potato for President Joe Biden in that document, as Bloomberg pointed out it includes statements on "discouraging investment in fossil fuels, including coal, and calling for a phase out of unabated coal in energy production." That one will be a major test for Biden as oil-state lawmakers already view themselves as being somewhat under attack by the administration in early decisions. So, we will see. This effort by the EU to again become more closely aligned with the U.S. is a strategic move on their part as they seek to end trade tensions between the two sides. But agriculture will still need to watch this relationship closely as even if some of the most-recent tensions are addressed, there are still a laundry list of ag trade and other topics that remain unresolved, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 1, 2021 |


Lawmakers Probe USDA General Counsel Nominee on Several Issues The key topic at a hearing last week for USDA General Counsel-nominee Janie Simms Hipp was concerns that meatpackers are using their market power to drive down prices paid to producers. Several GOP senators led by the panel's ranking member John Boozman, R., Ark., were joined by Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow, D., Mich., in calling for a hearing on the matter to "look for solutions," Stabenow stated. Hipp said that she needs an economist and a scientist "at my elbow" to inform her about the technical issues in agriculture. Regarding biofuels, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D., Minn., asked Hipp if she would defend the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) to the Environmental Protection Agency. Hipp promised she will be "a big voice at the interdepartmental table."

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 1, 2021 |


Stabenow Calls for USDA to Implement COVID-19 Relief Provisions Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D., Mich., is urging USDA to swiftly implement provisions included in the two latest coronavirus relief bills to protect food and farm workers and increase the resiliency of the U.S. agricultural supply chain. In a May 25 letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, Stabenow highlighted the supply chain provisions of the American Rescue Plan as well as programs in the consolidated appropriations bill intended to increase food assistance and safeguard workers from COVID-19. Language in the two measures provided a combined $5.5 billion to USDA for those efforts. "As USDA begins to implement these investments, I encourage the Department to take swift action and use creative approaches to help farmers and families recover from the pandemic," Stabenow wrote in the letter. Stabenow also highlighted the capacity of some existing programs at USDA to help make the supply chain more resilient and flexible in the face of large-scale disruptions. "Allocating a portion of the funding toward programs like the Healthy Food Financing Initiative and the Local Agriculture Market Program Regional Partnerships will help ensure we are reaching all facets of the supply chain to improve food access and respond to COVID-19," she wrote.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday June 1, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Trading in U.S. grain futures resumes Monday evening at 7 p.m. CDT and traders will be paying close attention to the latest weather forecasts and any reports of freeze damage over the weekend. On Tuesday, ISM's index of U.S. manufacturing is set for 9 a.m. and USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. USDA's Fats and Oils report will have a soybean crush estimate at 2 p.m., followed by Crop Progress and the first report of U.S. corn crop conditions at 3 p.m. CDT. Weather June begins on a dry and very warm note in northern and central crop areas. Rain will focus in the far southern Plains and portions of the Delta. Excessive heat adds to dryness stress in the western and northwestern crop areas as well. The seven-day outlook features heavy rain south, moderate amounts in the southeastern Midwest, and little to no precipitation for drought areas of the northern Midwest, Northern Plains and the Northwest.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 28, 2021 |


USDA Forecasts Record Farm Exports in FY 2021 The Department of Agriculture projects U.S. farm exports for 2021 at $164 billion, the highest on record. USDA announced its quarterly agricultural trade forecast this week. The results represent an increase of $28 billion, or 21 percent, from last fiscal year’s total, and a $7-billion increase from USDA’s previous 2021 forecast published in February. The annual export record of $152.3 billion was set in 2014. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the estimate "shows that our agricultural trading partners are responding to a return to certainty and reliability from the United States." Key drivers of the surge in exports include a record outlook for China, record export volumes and values for several products, sharply higher commodity prices, and reduced foreign competition. China is poised to be back on top as the United States' number one customer, with U.S. exports forecast at $35 billion, eclipsing the previous record of $29.6 billion set in 2014. *********************************************************************************** Stabenow Urges USDA to Implement Food and Ag Supply Chain Provisions Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow urges the Department of Agriculture to implement American Rescue Plan provisions to protect food and farm workers. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Stabenow states the American Rescue Plan "included resources so that the people who power our food and ag supply chain are protected and have the resources they need to stay safe and keep the shelves stocked." In the letter, Stabenow highlights supply chain provisions of the legislation, as well as programs in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, including measures to increase purchases of food for donation, supply chain infrastructure investments and others. Additionally, Chairwoman Stabenow highlighted the capacity of some existing programs at USDA to help make the supply chain more resilient and flexible in the face of large-scale disruptions. Stabenow writes, "This is also an opportunity to better prepare the food supply chain in the event of a future disruptive event.” *********************************************************************************** USDA Not Appealing Court Decision on Pork Slaughter Line Speeds The Department of Agriculture will not appeal a federal district court ruling on faster line speeds in slaughterhouses. USDA told the Hagstrom Report that only the Justice Department can make a decision about the appeal. The comments came less than a day after the National Pork Producers Council urged USDA to intervene in the matter before the ruling takes effect at the end of next month. NPPC cites an analysis by an Iowa State University economist that shows the ruling will result in a 2.5 percent loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide and more than $80 million in reduced income for small U.S. hog farmers. However, the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union praised the response from USDA. The union represents over 250,000 meatpacking and food processing workers. UFCW International President Marc Perrone says, “UFCW is calling on CEOs across the pork industry to work with the USDA to slow their line speeds.” ************************************************************************************ Perdue Documents Ag Confined Space Injuries Purdue University's Agricultural Safety and Health Program recently released the annual 2020 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities report. The program reported 64 fatal and nonfatal cases involving agricultural confined spaces, including 35 grain entrapments, seven falls into or from grain storage structures, four asphyxiations and 12 equipment entanglements. The total number of cases represents a 4.5 percent decrease from the number documented in 2019, exceeds the five-year average and the number of reported mining-related fatalities in 2020. The report says, “there is a direct correlation between out-of-condition grain and an increased likelihood of worker exposure to entrapment situations.” Further, the report reminds farmers to never enter a grain bin with evidence of crusting on the surface or within the grain mass. If the grain is crusted or the floor outlets are plugged, contact a professional grain salvage service that has the equipment and experience to remove out-of-condition grain. ************************************************************************************ ASA Announced Wool Assurance Website The American Sheep Industry Association launched the American Wool Assurance website last week at AmericanWoolAssurance.org. The website allows American sheep producers to take a crucial step in certifying their wool through a voluntary, American industry-driven certification process. The American Sheep Industry Association worked with Colorado State University the past two years to develop the voluntary program and standards that will allow manufacturers to purchase American wool with confidence that the animals producing that wool have been raised with a high level of care. Industry input from producers, shearers, buyers, extension, animal welfare experts and processors was critical in the development of program standards. ASI Deputy Director Rita Samuelson states, “This is something that consumers and brands are asking for increasingly, and so it has become important to retailers, processors and wool buyers in recent years.” ASA says Sheep producers interested in earning certification should go to AmericanWoolAssurance.org and sign up as soon as possible. ************************************************************************************ NCBA to Honor Cattle Feeder Hall of Fame Inductees in August Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame inductees and award winners will be honored in August. The event, August 9, will precede the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, to be held in Nashville, Tennessee. The Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame was established in 2009 to honor the exceptional visionary men and women who have made lasting contributions to the cattle-feeding industry. Inductees for 2021 are Johnny Trotter, president and CEO of Bar-G Feedyard in Hereford, Texas, and Steve Gabel, founder of Magnum Feedyard in Wiggins, Colorado. Dr. Gary C. Smith, visiting professor in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, will receive the Industry Leadership Award. George Eckert with Green Plains Cattle Company in Garden City, Kansas, and Gaspar Martinez with Harris Feeding Company in Coalinga, California, will receive the Arturo Armendariz Distinguished Service Award. Information on the 2021 Cattle Industry Convention and NCBA Trade Show, including tickets to the 2021 Cattle Feeders Hall of Fame banquet, can be found at convention.ncba.org.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 28, 2021 |


Washington Insider: US, China Talk Trade U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He held discussions Wednesday evening, the first such session between the two since the Biden administration took office. The session was labeled candid on trade issues between the two sides. Tai discussed the Biden administration's guiding principles on trade policy and her continuing review of the U.S.-China trade relationship in a virtual meeting, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) said. And Tai said she expected further discussions with Liu ahead. No doubt future discussions, depending on timing, will center on the review of U.S.-China policies that USTR is conducting. A review that is still underway, so timing of the next Liu/Tai discussion is not yet certain. All Tai has said so far about the Phase One agreement is that her view is “mixed” on the agreement that included purchase commitments made by China for manufactured goods, energy and of course agricultural commodities. From the Chinese side, their Ministry of Commerce described the call as “candid, pragmatic and constructive.” Outstanding issues include tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump and U.S. sanctions against Chinese companies. The latter is one where the U.S. is not alone as several other countries have been targeting Chinese firms as well. What has not been given any mention publicly is the situation where the U.S. and others are putting restrictions on imports of cotton/textiles from Xinjiang over the issue of the Uyghur minority. Many outside of China say the Uyghurs are being subjected to forced labor, something China vehemently denies and there have been numerous articles in Chinese state-run media that seek to counter the allegations being made by the Western World. But even before Tai and Liu spoke, lower-level discussions took place Tuesday night. Chinese trade staffers on that call also called on the U.S. to roll back remaining tariffs on Chinese products. During the call, the Chinese stressed the importance of tariff rollbacks as a necessary component of next steps in the relationship. It is important that Liu was the point person on the call as there had been talk of him being replaced in the role that saw him negotiate the Phase One agreement with Robert Lighthizer, USTR under President Donald Trump. In letting Liu, President Xi Jinping's right hand on the economy, speak with Tai, the Chinese leadership is signaling the continued importance of the economic relationship to Beijing. When it comes to the Phase One agreement, many continue to point out that China is running behind its two-year purchase commitments under the deal. Both Chinese and U.S. data indicated that to be the case. But agriculture has done better than the other sectors relative to the purchase targets. Long-time trade folks have pointed out that the purchase commitments are kind of the “shiny object” in the deal. Several U.S. commodity interests point to other components of the Phase One agreement as being perhaps even more important. Indeed, those other matters are things that deal with sanitary and phytosanitary issues, some of the biggest areas where trade problems arise. Of the more than 55 policy changes that China committed to on agriculture trade, some 50 of those have been implemented. And some have had an immediate impact. Take the agreement between the U.S. and China that was announced in February 2020 where China cannot block all poultry imports from the U.S. in the event we have a bird flu outbreak. China halted its imports of U.S. poultry in 2015 after the bird flu outbreak, and only agreed to reopen its market under the Phase One agreement. Less than two weeks after that agreement was announced on the regionalized approach to poultry trade issues, the U.S. confirmed a case of bird flu in turkeys in South Carolina. The result was China only blocked poultry from South Carolina, not all of the U.S. The other that many point to is China now accepts export certification for meat and poultry plants by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service. That has meant more than 4,000 plants can now ship product to China, up from around 1,500 before the Phase One deal. The changes made by China are important in that they cover not only trade under the Phase One agreement but they put in place changes that will govern future ag trade between the two sides. And that increased trade between the two sides spurred by the Phase One agreement helped push USDA to raise its forecast for U.S. ag exports in Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 to a record $164 billion. The U.S.-China relationship is a key one and it is one that has rising tensions as a component. It does not appear that China wants to walk away from the Phase One agreement, but they are pushing the “new” administration on the issue of tariffs, tariffs that got them to the table to negotiate the deal in the first place. So we will see. U.S. agriculture has clearly benefitted from the Phase One agreement. Perhaps not as much when viewed from the purchase commitments. But when the other critical changes that China has taken governing trade in agricultural products are considered, it is a relationship that so far is a sizable benefit to U.S. agriculture. But the China-U.S. relationship is a delicate one and must be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 28, 2021 |


Biden Budget Arrives Today The Biden administration's Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget arrives today and contains hefty spending for FY 2022 and lots of budget red ink. For agriculture, the key focus will be on what the plan offers for a spending plan at USDA and what kind of spending increases for areas like conservation that might be included. The focus there will be on what kind of signals, if any, the administration opts to send relative to using those programs to address climate change. With the Democrats in control of the House and Senate, it ups the odds the Biden budget plan will be able to get through. But there will be changes as lawmakers often want to put their own stamp on certain areas of any spending plan. Even the budgets proposed by the Trump administration were not adopted lock, stock and barrel when Republicans held both the House and Senate.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 28, 2021 |


USDA To Work With Hog Plants That Will Need To Slow Line Speeds USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said the agency will not challenge a court ruling which vacated a portion of the “New Swine Slaughter Inspection System” (NSIS) relative to line speeds at hog processing plants. “The Court vacated the rule only insofar as it eliminated the maximum line speed cap for NSIS establishments,” FSIS said of the decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. “The other provisions of the final rule were not affected by the Court's decision.” The court issued a 90-day stay to give plants time to adjust, FSIS said. “At this time, establishments operating under NSIS should prepare to revert to a maximum line speed of 1,106 head per hour on June 30, 2021,” the agency said. “We will work with the establishments to comply with the Court's ruling and minimize disruptions to the supply chain.” Those supply chain disruptions were cited by the National Producers Council (NPPC) as they called on USDA to appeal the decision. They pointed to an economic analysis showing the ruling would mean a 2.5% loss in pork packing capacity and an $80 million drop in income for producers. The group also said they will continue to “pursue all avenues” on the matter.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 28, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets Friday is the final trading session ahead of a three-day weekend celebrating Memorial Day. Grain prices could be volatile Friday with several weather factors at play and forecasts closely watched. A report on U.S. personal incomes and consumer spending is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, followed by the University of Michigan's consumer sentiment index at 9 a.m. Grains and livestock close at their normal times Friday. Grains will next trade at 7 p.m. CDT on Monday evening. Weather Friday brings an unseasonal dose of freezing cold to the northern Plains and far northern Midwest, with possible damage to crops. Meanwhile, light to moderate rain is in store for the eastern Midwest, which will offer favorable crop moisture. We'll also see a swath of rain extend into the Delta and southeastern Plains. Other crop areas will be dry. Showers will work into the western and central Plains during the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 27, 2021 |


National FFA Organization Picks New CEO The National FFA Organization and the National FFA Foundation have new leadership after picking Scott Stump as the new CEO of both organizations. Stump lives on a small ranch in Colorado with his wife, Denise, and their three children. He has a background in agricultural education, career and technical education, and the FFA. He received his bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Education from Purdue University. “it’s with great anticipation that I return to National FFA in this leadership role,” Stump says. “I know from personal experience as a student and as a parent the positive difference FFA makes in the lives of students across this nation.” Stump also says he looks forward to working with FFA’s talented national staff, committed board members, state and local leaders, and supporters to advance and expand the organizations’ collective impact. Ronnie Simmons, Chair of the National FFA Foundation Board of Trustees, says they’re excited to welcome Scott Stump to their team. “Scott brings decades of experience to the table, having been a part of FFA and agricultural education at nearly every level, including as a student member, classroom teacher, state staff, and national staff,” Simmons says. Stump replaces Mark Poeschl, who resigned in January after leading the organization for five years. *********************************************************************************************** Groups Ask Court to Vacate Trump Water Rule Environmental groups have asked a federal court to vacate the Navigable Waters Protection Act enacted during the Trump Administration. The motion for a summary judgment comes as the Biden administration continues to review the existing water rule. DTN says the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League filed the motion in a South Carolina U.S. District Court. They asked the court to vacate the rule based on what they call undisputed facts, including what they say has been lost protection for U.S. waters. In its motion, the Coastal Conservation League says the Army Corps of Engineers has been “flooded” with requests to get approved jurisdictional determinations securing the right to “pollute or fill newly excluded streams and wetlands free of the Clean Water Act’s permitting regulations.” They say in the past year that the law has been in effect, the rule’s threat to the nation’s waters has already been profound. However, agriculture groups support the current rule because they say it simplifies questions about the Clean Water Act jurisdiction that farmers face on their land. The groups call the Trump-era rule an “arbitrary policy reversal” that removed the Clean Water Act’s protections for millions of miles of streams and tens of millions of wetland acres. ********************************************************************************************** NBB Happy with Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Proposal The National Biodiesel Board thanked a bipartisan group of senators and representatives for introducing the Biodiesel Tax Credit Extension Act of 2021. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Reps Cindy Axne (D-IA) and Mike Kelley (R-PA) introduced the legislation that would provide the biodiesel and renewable diesel industry certainty for an additional three years. It would support continued growth in the U.S. production of better, cleaner fuels that are reducing carbon emissions now and boosting rural economies. “As Congress looks to jumpstart economic growth, rebuild infrastructure, and reduce carbon emissions, they can count on biodiesel and renewable diesel to help achieve those goals,” says Kurt Kovarik, NBB Vice President of Federal Affairs. “Biodiesel and renewable diesel are on average 74 percent less carbon-intensive than petroleum diesel and have cut more than 140 million tons of carbon emissions since 2010.” The U.S. biodiesel and renewable diesel industries support 65,000 jobs in America and more than $17 billion in economic activity each year. Biodiesel production supports approximately 13 percent of the value of each U.S. bushel of soybeans. “The biodiesel tax credit continues to be extremely successful in expanding consumer access to clean, low-carbon fuels,” Kovarik adds. ********************************************************************************************** Iowa Coalition Reminding Biden of His Biofuels Promise Iowa lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack asking them to support the biofuels industry and seeking information on how proposed tax changes will affect farmers. The senators and representatives sent the letter to remind Biden that he promised to promote renewable fuels, including ethanol, to support rural America. The letter points out that despite the promise, the administration’s proposed infrastructure bill would spend $174 billion to subsidize electric vehicles while hardly mentioning the biofuel industry. A Successful Farming article said when the plan was introduced in March, Ag Secretary Vilsack announced that the president’s proposed $2 trillion infrastructure plan, known as the American Jobs Plan, would include money toward increasing the production of biofuels. The Iowa lawmakers say they want the president to recognize that biofuels can be used as a permanent energy solution to help decarbonize the transportation sector. “Biofuels should not be treated as a transition fuel but prioritized as a fuel of the future,” the letter says. The lawmakers also state in the letter that they want data from the USDA showing how a proposed change in the tax law affecting capital gains taxes would affect farm estates. *********************************************************************************************** Foundation for Agriculture Awards Ag Literacy Grants The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture awarded $9,500 in grants to ten communities that are creating new ways to educate the public about agriculture. The end goal of each grant is to help communities with the funding they need to help people of all ages understand agriculture and the important role it plays in their lives. “The Foundation for Agriculture is pleased to highlight these ten communities that are bringing innovative agriculture literacy ideas into the classroom,” says Daniel Meloy, the foundation’s executive director. “The grant program is an exceptional way for educators, volunteers, and other leaders to get started on or expand an ag literacy project.” The criteria for selecting winners included the effectiveness of demonstrating a strong connection between agriculture and education, how successfully the project enhances learner engagement in today’s food, fiber, and fuel systems, as well as the timeliness and processes for accomplishing project goals. The foundation gave grants to recipients in Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, and South Carolina. ********************************************************************************************** USDA Initiative to Quantify Climate Benefits of CRP The USDA’s Farm Service Agency announced an initiative to quantify the climate benefits of the Conservation Reserve Program contracts. The multi-year effort will enable USDA to better target CRP toward climate outcomes and improve existing models and conservation planning tools while supporting USDA’s goal of putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change. "CRP is a powerful tool for implementing voluntary, measurable conservation outcomes to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” says FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux (DOO-sheh-know). “Nearly 21 million acres are currently enrolled in the program that prevents the equivalent of more than 12 million tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.” He also says further quantifying program benefits will allow the agency to better target CRP to achieve continued climate wins across environmentally sensitive lands while strengthening their modeling and conservation planning resources for all producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 27, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fed Says Taper Talk Coming The U.S. central bank is poised to start at least talking about when it will start to adjust its monetary policy as the U.S. economy continues to climb from the depths of the pandemic. The Federal Reserve has set the target range for the key Fed funds rate, the interest rate that governs costs of borrowing across the economy, at a range of 0% to 0.25%, in a bid to provide low-cost money so that the economy can recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fed is also purchasing some $120 billion in bonds in a bid to keep interest rates low. As the economy recovers, a reduction or tapering of those bond purchases is expected as the Fed's first action to tighten monetary policy as it seeks to not let the economy grow too fast to spur inflation that would cause damages across the economy and curtail economic activity. For months, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has said it is not yet time for the Fed to start “talking about talking about” tapering the bond buys. That comment he made months ago has become a source of questions nearly every time he has met with reporters, and he has maintained that it is not yet time for that to happen. But that time is getting closer. The April 27-28 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the meeting of Fed officials where they set monetary policy, indicated that to be the case. The recap of the meeting issued last week noted that FOMC members thought that if the U.S. economy continues to make strong progress, “it might be appropriate at some point in upcoming meetings to begin discussing a plan for adjusting the pace of asset purchases.” That is “Fed speak” for talking about tapering. This mention is important because coming out of the financial crisis, the Fed also embarked on purchasing securities/bonds in a bid to keep interest rates low. A comment from then-Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke in congressional testimony that the Fed was talking about reducing those bond buys spooked investors and roiled stock and financial markets, a response that was called the “taper tantrum.” Bernanke responded by emphasizing over and over in following appearances that the Fed was not ready to take such a step. In fact, the Fed did not take that action for several months after Bernanke's comment. Powell, it seems, learned from the Bernanke experience. That is why he has taken grate pains to emphasize that the Fed does not think things have reached a point where the bond buys need to be reduced. Powell also pledged that when the Fed does take such a step, it will not be a surprise to markets. He wants to avoid another “taper tantrum” from unfolding in the markets. So, based on the minutes from the April meeting and comments from Fed officials in recent days, we're getting closer to the discussion taking place on tapering those bond purchases. This sets the stage for the U.S. central bank to tighten its easy monetary policy. That will mean borrowing costs will start to increase. That will start a new chapter for the U.S. economy as it will start to increase costs for consumers to do many things, like buying a home, buying a car, and using credit cards and more. So we will see. The process of raising interest rates has begun as the economy recovers. And, it means that agriculture will be seeing a rising cost component in the form of higher interest rates. While any increases are not expected to be large, this is still situation which needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 27, 2021 |


USDA Ups Grocery Store Price Outlook Upward revisions to food at home (grocery store) price forecasts for several food categories prompted USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) to up their forecast rise in grocery store prices to an increase of 1.5% to 2.5% in 2021 versus 2020--the midpoint is right in line with the 20-year average of 2.0%. Overall food price inflation is still forecast at 2% to 3% (2.4% 20-year average) with food away from home (restaurant) prices seen rising 2.5% to 3.5% (2.8% 20-year average) from 2020 levels. So far this year, overall food prices are up 1.7% from the same period in 2020, with grocery store prices up 1.2% and restaurant prices up 2.4%. “Forecast ranges for meat categories, poultry, eggs, dairy products, fats and oils, and fresh fruits were also revised upward,” USDA noted, with only fish and seafood forecasts left steady with the month-ago outlook. “Forecast ranges for cereals and bakery products, nonalcoholic beverages, and other foods were revised downwards” compared with USDA's month-ago forecasts. “The meat and poultry price increases were driven by high feed costs and strong domestic and international demand,” USDA said. “In addition, winter storms and drought disrupted the beef supply, and high prices for sows dampened pork production.”

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 27, 2021 |


Senate Agriculture Committee Republicans Want USDA Analysis On Tax Plan Republican members of the Senate Agriculture Committee are calling on USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to make public a detailed explanation and any supporting economic analyses that clarifies how the Biden administration's proposed tax increases will affect farm estates. The panel's Ranking Member John Boozman, R-Ark., authored a letter to Vilsack that questioned USDA's analysis of President Joe Biden's proposed changes in capital gains tax rates and the modification to stepped-up basis on America's family farms and ranches. The letter specifically asks for an explanation of how USDA arrived at the conclusion 98% of farm estates will not be impacted by the proposed tax changes. “The proposed tax impacts are dependent on a number of factors, including but not limited to appreciation in farmland assets prior to a property owner's death, size of the farm operation and associated assets, income of the heirs, and the farm's ownership structure. Given these factors, we are writing to seek a detailed explanation and supporting economic analysis clarifying how these tax provisions will affect farm estates, including specifically how USDA arrived at the conclusion that fewer than 2% of farm estates will be impacted by the proposed tax changes,” the senators wrote.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 27, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report, U.S. jobless claims, durable goods orders for April and first-quarter U.S. GDP are all set for release at 7:30 a.m. CDT Thursday, along with an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The U.S. Energy Department reports on natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. The International Grains Council's monthly supply and demand estimates are also due out Thursday morning. Even with all of Thursday's reports, the latest weather forecasts get top attention. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store for the northern and western Midwest and portions of the Northern Plains Thursday. This includes areas which were bypassed by recent rainfall. We'll also see some light snow in colder air. The rain moves into the eastern Midwest and southern Plains later Thursday with a broad area of severe storm potential in the southern Plains.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 26, 2021 |


USTR Begins USMCA Dispute Panel on Dairy Trade with Canada U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai Tuesday announced the U.S. has requested and established a dispute settlement panel under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement regarding dairy trade. The request seeks to review measures adopted by Canada that “undermine the ability of American dairy exporters to sell a wide range of products to Canadian consumers.” The U.S. is challenging Canada’s allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas, specifically the set-aside of a percentage of each dairy TRQ exclusively for Canadian processors. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack responded, “This is an important step for American agriculture and one that brings the U.S. dairy sector closer to realizing the full benefits of the USMCA.” Vilsack adds the action “puts our other agricultural trading partners on notice that they must play by the rules.” Praising the announcement, National Milk Producers Federation President and CEO Jim Mulhern states, “Canada has failed to take the necessary action to comply with its obligations under USMCA by inappropriately restricting access to its market.” *********************************************************************************** Senate Finance to Consider Clean Energy for America Act. The Senate Finance Committee Wednesday (today) will consider the Clean Energy for America Act. The legislation introduced last month will overhaul the federal energy tax code. Committee Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon states, “The federal tax code is woefully inadequate to address our energy challenges.” The legislation consolidates current energy tax incentives into emissions-based provisions that incentivize clean electricity, transportation and energy efficiency. The incentives would be available to all energy technologies if they meet emissions reduction goals. The bill provides long-term incentives for battery and fuel cell electric vehicles and electric vehicle charging. It also provides a technology-neutral tax credit for domestic production of clean transportation fuel that are at least 25 percent cleaner than average, with clean fuels required to reach net-zero by 2030 to qualify. Senate Agriculture Committee Chair Debbie Stabenow says the bill “simplifies our tax code and shifts tax incentives away from oil and gas to clean energy,” adding the change is long overdue. *********************************************************************************** NPPC: Federal Judge Ruling Disastrous for Small U.S. Hog Farmers Left unchallenged, a recent federal district court ruling will result in a 2.5 percent loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide, according to the National Pork Producers Council. NPPC says the ruling would reduce income by more than $80 million for small U.S. hog farmers. NPPC is urging the Department of Agriculture to intervene before the ruling takes effect at the end of next month. The federal court’s decision struck down a provision of USDA’s New Swine Inspection System allowing for faster harvest facility line speeds. NPPC says the court's ruling will have the opposite effect sought by those seeking to expand the number of meatpacking plant facilities. Lawmakers have recently called for increasing the number of pork processing facilities nationwide by bringing smaller state plants up to federal inspection standards. NPPC President Jen Sorenson says, “With the stroke of a judge’s pen, the lives of many hog farmers will be upended if this misguided ruling takes effect.” ************************************************************************************ Growth Energy Applauds Senate Push for Transparency on Refinery Exemptions Farm state Senators recently reintroduced the Renewable Fuel standard Integrity Act. Senators Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat, and Deb Fischer, a Nebraska Republican, reintroduced the legislation as a companion to House legislation introduced in February. The bipartisan proposal would require small refineries to petition for Renewable Fuel Standard hardship exemptions by June first of each year. Currently, EPA does not provide any deadline for refiners submitting a request for a small refinery exemption. The change would ensure that EPA properly accounts for exempted gallons in the annual Renewable Volume Obligations it sets each November. Senator Duckworth states the bill would "bring much-needed transparency to the waiver process and prevent it from being misused to benefit billion-dollar oil companies at the expense of hardworking Americans again." Biofuels groups welcomed the bill. Growth Energy CEO Emily Skor says, "This legislation provides long-overdue transparency for requests to avoid blending more low carbon renewable fuels that are key to America's low-carbon future." ************************************************************************************ Organic Sales up During Pandemic U.S. organic sales soared to new highs in 2020, jumping by a record 12.4 percent to $61.9 billion. The increase marked the first time that total sales of organic food and non-food products have surpassed the $60 billion mark, according to the Organic Trade Association. The organization released the data as part of its 2021 Organic Industry Survey. In almost every organic food aisle, demand jumped by near-record levels, propelling U.S. organic food sales in 2020 up a record 12.8 percent to a new high of $56.4 billion. In 2020, almost six percent of the food sold in the United States was certified organic. The COVID-19 pandemic caused consumer dollars to shift almost overnight from restaurants and carry-out to groceries, with traditional staples and pantry and freezer items flying off the shelves. Consumer habits were upended, online grocery shopping and grocery deliveries exploded, and new products were tried as families ate three meals a day at home. ************************************************************************************ JBS, Pilgrims, Announce Free Community College Tuition Program for Rural America JBS USA and Pilgrim's this week announced the launch of Better Futures. The effort is a free-of-charge, two-year college tuition program providing more than 66,000 company team members and their dependent children the opportunity to pursue their higher education dreams. Better Futures removes a major financial barrier to college attendance and stands to become the largest free college tuition program in rural America. JBS USA and Pilgrim's advisors will also help team members, many from first-generation American families, navigate the application process, which can be a deterrence to people applying to college for the first time. To be eligible, JBS USA and Pilgrim's team members need only to have worked with the company for the last six months and remain in good standing with the company through completion of their education. College tuition is paid upfront by the company. If there is a facility where a college is not conveniently located, the companies will provide an online community college option.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 26, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fights Ahead in Carbon Accounting As the focus on carbon emissions rises, there figures to be new battles looming on carbon accounting, according to the Bloomberg Green Insight newsletter. The start examining the issue by looking at the claim Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made in April that the country had cut its emissions by 19% in 2019 compared with 2005 levels. He made the announcement during the climate summit organized by President Joe Biden. Bloomberg labeled his claim on emissions reductions as "an attempt to burnish his country's coal-stained image." But digging deeper, the Green Insight author Ashkat Rathi said that the figures touted by Morrison was merely an accounting trick. Turns out, it was a neat accounting trick. "Australia has made minimal progress towards net zero and its emissions trends are among the worst in the developed world," a new study from the Australia Institute concluded. The study said that the reduction claims made by Morrison was only possible to get to if the land-use sector is included -- forests, agriculture and other related emissions. Taking those items out of the mix, the study said, Australia's emissions from fossil-fuel use and industry increased by 6% in 2018, relative to 2005. The big focus is on fossil fuels as their contribution of emissions, something which Bloomberg said is something that only can happen over the course of decades, according to Pep Canadell, chief research scientist at CSIRO's climate science center. But those emissions from land-use areas are certainly important. The Global Carbon Project said that the land-use sector added some 6.5 billion tons of emissions in 2019. To put that in perspective, that is about 20% of the emissions from fossil fuels for 2019. But therein lies another key issue. Experts agree that measuring emissions from land use are not easy and the measurements used on emissions reductions are largely based on avoiding a hypothetical polluting activity. Those emissions are going to be key in the climate change debate. Those also figure high on the list of things that will be focused on at the COP26 in Glasgow in November, Bloomberg said. That COP26 confab will see countries seek to come up with ways to agree on rules for the Paris Agreement to create a new carbon market to help the public and private sectors trade those offsets. Presumably, that would also provide the basis for pricing those credits, another key factor in the process. "The goal of the market is to reduce emissions, but without clear accounting and strict regulations there's a big risk of greenwashing," Bloomberg said. One of the terms that figures in the mix is "avoided deforestation," that is based on the concept that the world will have to avoid cutting down forests in order to meet climate goals. So to measure avoided deforestation, there will have to be a baseline of deforestation established. If, for example, that would be set at 1%, then if the rate of deforestation falls by 0.5% then those developing the projection can create offsets based on the 0.5% of emissions avoided because some trees weren't cut down. Those offsets could then be purchased by those who need such credits to "reduce" their carbon emissions. But that also leaves the situation rife for the potential for "greenwashing" of figures and manipulating baselines by sellers to create a big batch of credits. That sets up a situation where those that need to buy the credits could obtain them at a cheaper price. Then there is the potential for double counting. Bloomberg said that could arise as a company could delete emissions from their own accounts and a country could conceivably also cancel those same credits for that country. And Bloomberg said that is a real situation. "One of the reasons Article 6 negotiations have failed at previous COP meetings is reportedly because Brazil objected to the phrase 'double counting' appearing in the rulebook governing the new carbon market," Bloomberg said. So we will see. This situation could become a major issue ahead, particularly the matter of double counting and greenwashing and more. And agriculture figures prominently in the mix, particularly on land-use emissions. This creates a series of discussions and debates that agriculture will need to follow closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 26, 2021 |


NPPC Weighs In On Court Decision On Pork Plant Line Speeds A recent ruling by a federal judge would be "disastrous" for small U.S. hog farmers, according to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC). Left unchallenged, a recent federal district court ruling will result in a 2.5% loss in pork packing plant capacity nationwide, and more than $80 million in reduced income for small U.S. hog farmers, according to an analysis by Dr. Dermot Hayes, an economist with Iowa State University. NPPC is urging USDA to intervene before the ruling takes effect at the end of next month. The ruling, NPPC said, "will dramatically reduce hog farmer market power--particularly smaller producers located near impacted plants--and undermine pork industry competition." NPPC said the court's ruling will have the opposite effect sought by those seeking to expand the number of meat packing plant facilities. Lawmakers have recently called for increasing the number of pork processing facilities nationwide by bringing smaller state plants up to federal inspection standards. These facilities represent less than 1% of total harvest capacity.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 26, 2021 |


Mexican Judge Rejects Bid to Freeze Mexico GMO, Glyphosate Plans A request to freeze a government plan to ban imports of GMO corn and glyphosate by 2024 was rejected by Mexican Judge Martin Adolfo Santos Perez, marking the latest of what Mexico's National Council of Science and Technology (CONACYT) said have been 17 legal challenges of the order issued by Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. The latest action was brought by the National Farm Council (CNA). The group argued that it is concerned "radical and unscientific interpretations" of the planned bans will stoke uncertainty. CONACYT has been directed to come up with an alternative to glyphosate. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has said he has continued to discuss the issue with his Mexican counterpart and has indicated that the ban on GMO corn could apply only to corn used for food as opposed to feed, but the issue is not clear at this juncture.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 26, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts continue to get close attention Wednesday and we'll watch for an export sale announcement, but there haven't been any export sales reported since Thursday. The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory report is set for 9:30 a.m. CDT and includes an update of ethanol production after it broke above 1 million barrels per day last week. Weather Showers and thunderstorms are in store for much of the eastern Midwest along with the central and western Plains Wednesday. Storms are capable of producing locally heavy rain in these areas, including flash flooding. Severe storms are also likely with a threat of hail, high winds and tornadoes. Other areas will be dry. Frost potential is also featured in the far northern Plains Wednesday night

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 25, 2021 |


JBS Exits NCBA JBS has left the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association as the group is taking a closer look at market consolidation. NCBA, along with other livestock and general farm organizations, met recently to discuss livestock market concerns. And lawmakers have requested the Department of Justice continue, and provide an update on, its cattle market investigation. Politico reports JBS suspended its membership to NCBA last year as part of an internal review. Now, JBS is no longer a member of NCBA, but company officials say they expect to remain involved with the group. In response to the lawmaker’s effort, NCBA’s Ethan Lane stated last week, “We have a high supply of cattle at one end of this equation and a high demand for U.S. beef at the other, but the middle is being absolutely choked by the lack of processing capacity.” Known as the big four, Tyson, JBS, Cargill and National Beef process more than 80 percent of U.S. beef. *********************************************************************************** Bill Would Give USDA Authority over Rural Broadband House lawmakers last week introduced the Broadband for Rural America Act. The legislation would put the Department of Agriculture in the driver’s seat for rural broadband rather than the Federal Communications Commission. Georgia Republican Representative Austin Scott mentioned last week, "The FCC’s had their chance, and they haven’t gotten it done.” The bill is one of several infrastructure proposals from House Republicans. Scott says the legislation will provide new investments for USDA connectivity programs to bring high-speed internet infrastructure to rural communities. Specially, the bill would authorize $3.7 billion per year for rural broadband programs, including the ReConnect Rural Broadband Program, the Middle Mile Broadband Program, and the Innovative Broadband Advancement Program. The legislation would also target assistance focused on the most rural and least-connected residents, which are often the most expensive to connect. Finally, the bill aims to promote borrower accountability and protect taxpayers with new tools to ensure promised services are delivered to rural communities. ************************************************************************************ Organic Valley Announces Low Carbon Footprint Dairy on Path to Carbon Neutrality Phase one of Organic Valley's dairy life cycle assessment evaluated on-farm greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms using different management practices. The results are in, and farming practices of Organic Valley farmers have a measurable benefit for the planet, reinforcing the cooperative's commitment to bringing ethically made organic food to families. University of Wisconsin-Madison's assessment reveals that, on average, the dairy farms of Organic Valley's members have a smaller carbon footprint than average U.S. conventional and organic dairy overall. The most significant difference in calculations of the carbon footprint of Organic Valley milk is in the inclusion of carbon sequestration from pasture as well as from forage and crop production. Including carbon sequestration in the LCA reduced the net farm emissions of the cooperative's dairy farms by an average of 15 percent. In addition, on average, Organic Valley farmers report engaging in 50 percent more pasture grazing than that required by the National Organic Program. ************************************************************************************ Real Organic Project Meets with Secretary Vilsack Farmers of the Real Organic Project met with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week, discussing what the group calls the “organic problem.” The meeting followed a letter sent to Vilsack last month signed by 43 former members of the National Organic Standards board. The farmers told Vilsack, “the National Organic Program is in serious trouble because of the failure of the USDA to uphold the integrity of the Organic Standards.” The standards board is intended to represent a broad spectrum of interest groups. However, the group alleges, “The choices by the USDA are often skewed, with mid-level Agribiz managers oftentimes taking a farmer position.” In the last eleven years, the program has failed to successfully bring a number of key recommendations to rulemaking. The group’s April letter states, “This failure has led to real damage to trust in and the integrity of the organic program, as the NOP has failed to respond to serious challenges to the meaning of organic from industry.” ************************************************************************************ AEM Offers Insights on High Machinery Sales The Association of Equipment Manufacturers says there are several factors driving the current machinery sales trends. 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. AEM’s Curt Blades says, “We're operating in a very interesting market right now.” Over the last 12 months, there’s been a rise in under 40 horsepower, or small tractor sales. Blades says, “This is due largely to a lot of the industries that have done very well during the pandemic." Small tractors fall into that category as well as sales are spiking largely in suburbs with larger lots to help homeowners with improving the property. However, starting later in 2020, larger row-crop and articulated 4WD tractors have also enjoyed increasing sales success. Blades adds, “Tractor sales are strong, commodity sales are particularly good, and optimism is at an all-time high in the farming community." ************************************************************************************ USA Rice: USDA Acreage Forecast Higher than Actual Acres Planted USA Rice says the Department of Agriculture’s acreage forecast for rice is higher than the actual acres planted. The USA Rice World Market Price Subcommittee met last week, to discuss supply and demand, rice stocks, and projected plantings. Subcommittee members from all six rice states reported expectations that actual plantings for 2021 will be significantly lower than those estimated by USDA in the March projected plantings, with a total projected difference of 15 percent less acreage, due to a range of weather issues. Following the Subcommittee meeting, Chair Keith Glover and USA Rice staff met with teams from the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Economic Research Service, and World Agricultural Outlook Board departments. Glover provided feedback from Subcommittee members regarding NASS statistics, and reviewed the areas where members thought changes could be made. Glover states, “As always we were happy to meet with USDA to pass on input from our World Market Price Subcommittee.”

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 25, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Infrastructure Negotiations Continue The White House has lowered its price tag on an infrastructure package to $1.7 trillion, down from an initial package of $2.25 trillion, as efforts to find bipartisan agreement on infrastructure spending continues. Republicans had offered up a $568 billion package which some Democrats dismissed immediately as woefully short of what is needed. Indications are Republicans may be willing to bump their offer up by some $250 billion, but even that may not be enough to win much support among Democrats. The offer to Republicans, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, was made “in the spirit of finding common ground.” The offer, she noted, “exhibits a willingness to come down in size.” While the size of the package is one objection from Republicans, the other is how the administration wants to pay for the plan. One of the key ways to pay for the administration's package is an increase in the corporate tax rate to 28% from the 21% that Republicans put in place via their 2017 tax package. But touching the GOP tax package is a non-starter for many Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who said as much last week. “If they're willing to settle for a targeted infrastructure bill without revisiting the 2017 tax bill, we'll work with them,” McConnell said, but he noted a package of $2 trillion or more “is not going to have any Republican support.” Republicans, on the other hand, have suggested paying for their package in part by tapping unspent funds from the massive COVID-19 aid package. Other money could come from uncollected tax revenue or public-private partnerships. But Biden has continued to meet with Republicans even as those in his own party are warning him not to let Republicans just negotiate for an extended period of time. But that does not appear to be the case – that Biden will let the negotiations drag on for weeks or months. Biden will “change course” on the infrastructure plan if he can't get bipartisan support, White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told CNN's State of the Union. "He wants a deal. He wants it soon, but if there's meaningful negotiations taking place in a bipartisan manner,” Richmond said. “He will not let inaction be the answer. And when he gets to the point where it looks like that is inevitable, you'll see him change course.” That change in course is going the reconciliation route which would allow Democrats to move the infrastructure deal forward without needing to have 60 votes in the U.S. Senate. Another factor which is chafing some on the Hill are items included in what is labeled infrastructure. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., has been involved in the negotiations with the White House, and said the price tag is one thing but that reflects the amount of various issues that are included. But this situation is unfolding as other countries around the globe are investing in their infrastructure. Brazil, for example, has focused their attention on improving the infrastructure for their soybean industry. Brazil's infrastructure minister has predicted a boom in development of the nation's highways, railways and airports on the back of $50 billion in investment in concession projects by the end of next year. “Brazil will become an immense construction site,” Tarcisio Gomes de Freitas told the Financial Times. “With the planned concessions, by the end of 2022, $50 billion will have been contracted in investments for the modernization of airports, ports, highways and railways. In other words, the equivalent of more than 30 years of the public budget for infrastructure,” he said. Indeed, Brazil has put $10 billion into an array of projects that include airports, seaports, rail lines to reach into the interior of Brazil and more. But Brazil is also looking at the infrastructure effort with an eye on climate change. The country current sees some 65% of their distribution system in trucking and only 15% by rail. Freitas said that connecting the interior of the country with Amazon River arteries would reduce up to 1 million tons of carbon dioxide. Brazil has production costs for their soybean that are very favorable compared with the U.S. But it's getting their crops to export channels that is their biggest cost factor. And they look at infrastructure as not only addressing that situation but also making their country more eco-friendly. Here in the U.S., infrastructure was hoped to be one of the topics that could find Republicans and Democrats working together. But so far, that hope is not being materialized, at least not to the point where the two sides are ready to put a package together that can get votes from both sides of the aisle. And that is part of the irony. Both Democrats and Republicans agree that infrastructure is something that benefits all Americans and it is not a partisan matter. Few can disagree that the nation's roads, bridges and rail system along with the lock and dams on the Mississippi River that move ag products to export locations are sorely in need of updates. Yet getting to that point where all can agree is moving at a slow pace. And that slow pace is coming while our foreign competitors continue to invest in what it takes to move their ag products in particular to export to the rest of the world. We shall see. If budget reconciliation ends up being the route for infrastructure spending, it will keep the fractured Washington in place. And that is something agriculture needs to monitor closely as they produce the crops, livestock and other ag products that would benefit considerably from improving the farm-to-market system, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 25, 2021 |


Steel and Aluminum Import Tariffs Remain in Focus The Section 232 tariffs imposed on imports of steel and aluminum by the Trump administration are still in place and the Biden administration has not yet signaled they are ready to lift or alter those duties. A union and various steel industry groups are calling for President Joe Biden to keep steel tariffs in place. Leaders of seven groups wrote a letter last week addressed directly to the president on behalf of U.S. steel producers, fabricators, and workers emphasizing the impact that Trump's 2018 steel tariffs had on their industry. They said that the move was necessary because surges in steel imports threatened nearly 2 million domestic jobs. “Since the tariffs took effect, American steel producers have announced plans to invest more than $15.7 billion in new or upgraded facilities -- investments that are now beginning to bear fruit in the form of permanent, family-sustaining steel jobs and economic activity that supports communities across the United States,” the letter said. Meanwhile, the UK government has indicated it will put new tariffs on imports of U.S. wine, chocolate and lobsters as it rebalances the list of goods it will target for import duties the U.S. imposed on imports of steel and aluminum. The British trade ministry said the new tariffs would be aimed at "the needs of the UK economy and shaped to defend industries across the UK." No specific tariff rates were mentioned and the list published reflected a six-week consultation with businesses and other stakeholders.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 25, 2021 |


State Lawmakers Urge USDA to Conduct Another Beef Checkoff Vote A new producer referendum on the Beef Checkoff is being called for by 131 state lawmakers from 11 states. In a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the lawmakers said the $1-per-head assessment needs to be voted on again by producers. “This tax was voted on in 1985 under the auspices that the money raised would go to promote exclusively USA beef,” said in their letter. “Unfortunately, that money is being funneled away from its original intent and is being used by private associations and entities that do not exclusively represent USA beef.” It is not clear whether USDA will act on the request and whether there would be enough producer support for altering the checkoff if it were put to another vote by producers.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 25, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets Tuesday starts with attention on the latest forecasts and any export sales news that might arise. At 9 a.m. CDT, there are reports on April new home sales and a consumer confidence index in May. Weather Tuesday will bring scattered shower and thunderstorm activity to the central and southeastern Plains, central Midwest, far Northern Plains, Northwest, and Canadian Prairies. Rainfall will be mainly light; however, some locally heavy amounts are possible in the Plains storms. Other areas will be dry. Strong winds are also in store for the northern Plains during the afternoon.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


USDA Announces Plan for Black farmer payments The USDA says it plans to make debt relief available to Black farmers. The announcement came one day before Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack participated in a roundtable discussion with Black farmers in Georgia. A spokesman says Vilsack will be traveling to other states to discuss the plan in the weeks ahead. Late last week, the Farm Service Agency published the first notice of funding availability for loan payments for eligible borrowers who have qualifying direct farm loans under the American Rescue Plan. “The Plan has made it possible for USDA to deliver historic debt relief to socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers beginning in June,” Vilsack says. “USDA is recommitting itself to gaining the trust and confidence of America’s farmers and ranchers using a new set of tools provided in the American Rescue Plan.” The Plan authorizes funding and authorization for the FSA to pay up to 120 percent of direct and guaranteed loan with outstanding balances as of January first of 2021. He says the tools are designed to increase opportunity, advance equity, and address systemic discrimination in USDA programs. To learn more about the loan payments to socially disadvantaged farmers, go to www.farmers.gov/americanrescueplan. *********************************************************************************************** SD/MN Senators Ask Colleagues to Sign onto Meatpacking Letter Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Tina Smith (D-MN) wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding the state of the U.S. meatpacking industry. They asked him to enforce or examine America’s antitrust laws to restore fairness in the marketplace for cattle producers and are asking their colleagues in both the House and Senate to sign the letter. The Hagstrom Report says the letter was released last week by R-CALF USA, which is launching an effort to get 200 members from both chambers of Congress to sign the letter. Producers want to know why boxed beef prices are rising while the prices they get for their cattle are stagnant. During an R-CALF USA Facebook Live event held last week, Rounds said it’s vital for producers to let consumers know about the industry’s issues. He’s also asking R-CALF members to put the letter out in front of consumers outside of their home states. South Dakota is one of nine states where livestock outnumber people. Rounds says those states support more market transparency, but those same states make up just five percent of the country’s population. Rounds says meatpackers currently sit in the middle of the situation, noting that the industry is controlled by only four companies. ********************************************************************************************** Reps Ask Biden Administration to Utilize USMCA Enforcement Measures A bipartisan group of representatives sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding dairy and the U.S-Mexico-Canada Agreement. They’re asking the administration to move ahead with enforcement measures negotiated in the USMCA to support U.S. dairy farmers. A key part of the USMCA agreement was the promise of new export opportunities for America’s dairy industry, including the introduction of fairer trade rules to ensure American-made dairy exports can compete on a level playing field. The coalition says it’s crucial that the Administration hold U.S. trading partners accountable to their tariff commitments. So far, Canada hasn’t taken actions to alter its dairy tariff-rate quotas to bring them into compliance with the USMCA. That undermines the ability of American dairy farmers and producers to sell a wide range of products to Canadian consumers. The representatives say the immediate use of enforcement measures is necessary to ensure Canada delivers on their obligations in a way that’s fully consistent with the agreement. “USMCA made key advancements for our dairy farmers,” says Representative Ron Kind (D-WI). “However, I’ve long said trade agreements are only as strong as their enforcement, and we need to make sure our trading partners live up to their end of the deal.” ********************************************************************************************** Coalition Defends Gray Wolf Delisting A coalition of agriculture and forestry groups filed court motions in defense of delisting the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act. Three cases filed by environmental and animal welfare groups in California challenge the final delisting ruling issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last November. The coalition is defending the delisting because it recognizes the successful recovery of the wolf and enables responsible wildlife management and protection of private property by farmers, ranchers, and forest resource users. The coalition provided the court with personal stories that illustrate the harm inflicted by unchecked wolf populations on livestock ranchers and farmers, natural ecosystems, and other wildlife. A Minnesota farmer stated in the filing that he lost 26 calves in a single year to gray wolves. Groups in the coalition include the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Forest Resources Council, the American Sheep Industry Association, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Public Lands Council. Since being listed under the ESA in 1974, the gray wolf has exceeded recovery goals by more than 300 percent. This has been a runaway success story, with uncontrolled populations now threatening livestock and rural communities across the country. *********************************************************************************************** Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour Finishes Last Week The Wheat Quality Council’s 2021 Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour finished up last week. The total weighted average yield estimate was 58.1 bushels per acre, a likely tour record that DTN says far surpasses USDA’s national yield projection of 52.1 bushels per acre. It’s the highest tour yield estimate in 19 years and the best in the event’s history, which stretches back over 40 years. The tour made 250 stops in multiple fields, most of which were in Kansas. They did visit several fields in southern Nebraska and northern counties in Oklahoma. Kansas is the nation’s largest winter wheat producing state, and Kansas farmers planted 7.3 million acres last fall. Harvest will get underway in June. Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin says recent rainfall greatly helped to improve crop conditions after a dry early spring. He also says good prices prompted many farmers to closely monitor their crops for disease pressure and spray fungicides to keep the crop healthy. He was also quick to credit improved wheat genetics in helping plants better endure stress, such as drought. “Mother Nature has been good to the crop over the past two weeks with rain,” Gilpin tells DTN. “The yield estimate is a testament to wheat breeders and better genetics.” ********************************************************************************************** NCGA Soil Health Institute Will Close The Soil Health Partnership, a project of the National Corn Growers Association, is scheduled to close the doors for good on May 28. John Mesko, the groups senior director, says SHP has accomplished its original mission of determining the economic and environmental impact of conservation practices and communicating the importance of soil health to farmers and the agriculture community. “Despite our good work, the empirical on-farm research that SHP conducted is expensive,” Mesko says. “Add to that our high level of farmer-facing support, with field staff covering 16 states and a bona fide research and data analysis staff, and the current cost of SHP exceeds the existing levels of support.” In carrying out the mission, Mesko says they developed the best-in-class farm research protocols, farmer engagement strategies, and an elite suite of communication channels to tell the story. They also released key findings that included 2019 and 2020 cover crop planting reports, two published research papers, held several important webinars, and a study on the economic impact of conservation practices on farms.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Escalation in US-Canada Lumber Dispute The U.S.-Canada dispute over softwood lumber appears to be heading to an escalation. Bloomberg reported that the U.S. Department of Commerce issued new preliminary rulings on antidumping tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber imports that would double the current duties if implemented. The International Trade Administration calculated a preliminary duty of 18.32%, but the current amount of 8.99% is in effect as there has not been a final determination, a Commerce official said Friday. The final determinations will not be in place until later in the year. But the report will no doubt catch the attention of many in trade circles, particularly in Canada. But this is only the latest chapter in what has been a seemingly decades-long battle between the two sides. Both sides have traded trade actions over softwood lumber. Canada took a complaint to the WTO and in 2019, the world trade body said the U.S. had violated international trade rules in the way it calculated tariffs on Canadian imports of softwood lumber. That resulted in the current duty level of 8.99% which went into place in November, a trim from the level of 20.23% that had been in place. British Columbia has been the most vocal in the situation. "We find the significant increase in today's preliminary rates troubling," Susan Yurkovich, president of the British Columbia Lumber Trade Council, said in in a statement. "It is particularly egregious given lumber prices are at a record high and demand is skyrocketing in the U.S. as families across the country look to repair, remodel and build new homes." A big portion of U.S. lumber imports comes from British Columbia. As for the preliminary increase, the U.S. Lumber Coalition welcomed the development. "A level playing field is a critical element for continued investment and growth for U.S. lumber manufacturing to meet strong building demand to build more American homes," Jason Brochu, co-chair of the coalition, said in a statement. The National Association of Home Builders has urged the Biden administration to negotiate a new trade deal with Canada to secure supplies and halt further hikes, Bloomberg said. But the situation is not only a concern in Canada but also in the U.S. as the current duties have pushed up lumber prices at a time when residential construction has been on the rise. Low U.S. interest rates have translated into low mortgage rates. And with a low supply of homes on the market, new construction efforts have been rising. Permits to build new homes have been posting strong increases at an annualized rate each month even as the level of starts is not coming close to the potential level that would be signaled by permits. That is in no small part as lumber prices have risen dramatically. There has been a roughly 300% increase in lumber prices the past year. In fact, some builders and construction firms are bidding construction or addition jobs on a labor-only basis, saying that the materials cost will be what it costs. If the higher duties go into effect, that will cause another rise in building costs for renovations, remodelings, additions and new construction. Already, the higher lumber prices are prompting some to hold off on such projects, but the potential increase in tariffs on Canadian lumber could cause some to "bite the bullet" and go ahead with on-hold projects in a bid to get them rolling before even higher costs are seen. The situation has been interesting on the policy front. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told lawmakers she was eager to reach a softwood lumber agreement with Canada, being well aware of increased costs seen on the U.S. side of the border. But she also told lawmakers recently that Canada was not interested in any such agreement. But then after the Free Trade Commission meeting last week between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng told reporters she wanted to reach an agreement with the U.S. on softwood lumber. It is not clear why there appears to be a disconnect from the top trade officials in the two countries. But it is a disconnect that so far has not reached the point of the two sides setting time to sit down and discuss the matter in detail. So we will see. The current tariffs have boosted lumber prices at an inopportune time on this side of the border. It would be an accomplishment by Tai and the Biden administration if they were to put this dispute behind them with some kind of a resolution. But the length of time this dispute has run, positions may not be as easy to change. But it is a trade matter that agriculture needs to watch closely as it feeds throughout the U.S. economy and an escalation could prove damaging to the U.S.-Canada relationship on several fronts, Washington Insider believes, as history has shown that other sectors outside of those at the heart of a dispute can get snared as collateral damage.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


Appropriations Timing Set In House House Appropriations Committee action on the one dozen Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 spending bills is planned for a three-week period around the July Fourth recess, according to a report from CQ RollCall. Subcommittee markups would start June 24 and run through June 28--before the chamber exits July 1 for its break. A final subcommittee markup would be held July 12. In the full committee, markups would be held from June 29-July 1, with work resuming July 13-16. Given the timeline that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., has laid out of wanting to get all the spending measures through the House by the August recess, it may mean several of the bills could be packaged together. Several hearings on FY 2022 budgets for various agencies are on tap this week and more will be coming after the Memorial Day break. So far, the FY 2022 USDA budget hearing has not yet been scheduled in either chamber.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


USDA Sets Payouts to Socially Disadvantaged Farmers in Motion USDA's Farm Service Agency (FSA) has released the initial notice of funding availability (NOFA) for eligible borrowers with direct loans under the Farm Loan Programs (FLP) or Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) programs authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). "FSA will pay 120% of direct loan balances outstanding as of January 1, 2021, for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers," the agency said. A subsequent notice addressing guaranteed loans and remaining loan balances will be published within 120 days of the initial NOFA that is expected to be published this week. All eligible direct loan borrowers are included in the initial NOPA "except those who no longer have collateral or an active farming operation," FSA said. "These borrowers often have more complicated cases and may not have the same opportunities to invest in their farming operation to manage tax liabilities. FSA expects these cases to account for approximately 5% of eligible direct loan borrowers. Procedures for payments to these borrowers will be addressed in a subsequent NOFA, which also will include eligible guaranteed loan borrowers." "Eligible Direct Loan borrowers will begin receiving debt relief letters from FSA in the mail on a rolling basis, beginning the week of May 24," FSA announced, with the agency indicating that effort will run through June. Those receiving the letters have to sign and return it to FSA. In June, FSA said it would begin to process signed letters for payment. "About three weeks after a signed letter is received, socially disadvantaged borrowers who qualify will receive 20% of their total qualified debt by direct deposit which may be used for tax liabilities or other fees associated with payment of the debt." Those payments will be issued on a "rolling basis," FSA noted.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


Markets Traders will catch up on the latest forecasts by Sunday evening and be attentive to any export sales news that arises. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT. USDA's monthly cold storage report will be out at 2 p.m., followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. with new crop ratings for winter and spring wheat. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store Monday in the far Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies, offering more needed moisture. We'll also see light showers in portions of the central and southeastern Plains. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal, with notable heat in the Southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 24, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will catch up on the latest forecasts by Sunday evening and be attentive to any export sales news that arises. USDA's weekly grain inspections report is due out at 10 a.m. CDT. USDA's monthly cold storage report will be out at 2 p.m., followed by Crop Progress at 3 p.m. with new crop ratings for winter and spring wheat. Weather Light to moderate rain is in store Monday in the far Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies, offering more needed moisture. We'll also see light showers in portions of the central and southeastern Plains. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures will be seasonal to above normal, with notable heat in the Southeast.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 21, 2021 |


Court Vacates Midnight Refinery Exemptions Biofuel groups hailed an order from the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacating three small refinery exemptions granted to Sinclair the day before President Biden’s inauguration. The decision came promptly after the Environmental Protection Agency filed a petition asking the court to overturn the waivers on April 30. Sinclair responded on May 18 that it didn’t oppose the EPA request. “We’re pleased the court has vacated these improperly granted waivers and is sending them back to EPA for reconsideration,” says Renewable Fuels Association President and CEO Geoff Cooper. “If these exemptions had been allowed to stand, they would have erased RFS blending requirements for 260 million gallons of low-carbon renewable fuels.” He says it would also have destabilized rural communities and been a big step backward in the fight against climate change. National Corn Growers Association President John Linder says, “We look forward to working with EPA Administrator Michael Regan to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard and appreciate his early action to change the EPA course when it comes to waivers.” *********************************************************************************************** EPA Will Keep Biofuel Mandates Steady in 2021-2022 Three sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the Environmental Protection Agency’s biofuel blending mandates for this year and next will be in line with those from 2020. The agency is said to be accounting for weaker fuel demand since the onset of COVID-19. That would mean the U.S. refining industry would avoid added costs normally associated with the usual expansion in renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard. That will come at the expense of biofuel producers and the corn industry, which depend on regular increases to expand their businesses. The required amounts of biofuels that refiners must blend into the nation’s fuel supply usually increase annually in hopes of reducing foreign petroleum imports and helping the nation’s farmers. Former President Trump delayed the 2021 proposal because of COVID-19 and the 2020 election. The EPA says it intends to issue both the 2021 and 2022 volumes proposals later this summer. In the last ruling back in 2019, the EPA mandated that American refiners blend 20.09 billion gallons of renewable fuel into the nation’s fuel mix for the 2020 compliance year. That mandate included 15 billion gallons of conventional biofuels like ethanol. The upcoming volume proposals are expected to largely be the same amounts. ********************************************************************************************** Ethanol Production Tops One Million Barrels The Energy Information Administration says U.S. ethanol output topped the one-million-barrel mark for the first time in 14 months, while stockpiles also rose last week. Ethanol production jumped to an average of 1.032 million barrels a day in the week ending on May 14. The latest EIA report says that’s up from 979,000 barrels a day, on average, during the prior week and the highest level since March 13, 2020. The Midwest, by far the largest ethanol-producing region, saw its output come in at an average of 985,000 barrels a day, up from 940,000 the previous week. That’s the highest level since the week ending on February 28, 2020. Gulf Coast production jumped to an average of 20,000 barrels a day, up from 16,000 the previous week. Rocky Mountain output rose to 10,000 barrels a day from 8,000, and East Coast production rose to 7,000 barrels a day from 6,000 a week before. The West Coast was the only region where output didn’t improve, holding fast at an average of 9,000 barrels a day. Inventories rose, but only slightly, coming in at 19.4 million barrels last week, up from 19.39 million the prior week. *********************************************************************************************** USDA Releases 90-Day Climate-Smart Progress Report The USDA published its 90-Day Progress Report on Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry this week. The agency says it represents an important step toward President Biden’s Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad and the shift towards a whole-of-department approach to solutions. “With the right tools and partnerships, American agriculture and forestry can lead the world in solutions that will increase climate resistance, sequester carbon, enhance agricultural productivity, and maintain critical environmental benefits,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “At this pivotal time, the president has called upon USDA to develop a strategy for climate-smart agriculture and forestry as part of a whole-of-government effort to addressing the climate crisis.” He also says central to USDA’s approach is the concept that whatever the agency does must work for farmers, ranchers, and landowners. The goal is to combat the climate crisis and conserve and protect the nation’s lands, biodiversity, and natural resources like soil, air, and water. Through research, conservation practices, and partnerships, USDA is looking to find solutions to agricultural challenges, enhancing economic growth, and create new streams of income for farmers, ranchers, producers, and private foresters. More information on the progress report is available at www.usda.gov. ********************************************************************************************** First Long Flight Powered by Biofuels is Successful A coalition of companies came together to carry out the first long-haul flight powered by a renewable fuel called Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Air France Flight 342 took off from Paris and headed to Montreal with its tanks full of the renewable aviation fuel produced in French manufacturing plants. Renewable Energy Magazine says the flight is a tangible result of four groups that came together to decarbonize transportation and to develop a new supply chain for the fuel. The biofuel used for this flight was made from waste and residue sourced from the French economy. A company called Total produced the biofuel from used cooking oil at a biorefinery and a factory in France without using any virgin plant-based oil. The 16 percent blend of biofuels on this flight lessened the CO2 emissions by 20 tons. Air France-KLM is known as a pioneer for testing sustainable aviation fuels. In addition to this flight, French company Airbus is conducting several series of tests to certify that airliners can fly with 100 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel. Benjamin Smith, CEO of Air France-KLM, says, “For many years, the Air France-KLM Group has been committed to reducing our environmental footprint. Supporting the emergence of an economically viable French aviation biofuel sector is a priority for our group and the country.” ********************************************************************************************** U.S. Chicken Producer Charged with Price-Fixing Claxton Poultry Farms Incorporated has been indicted in Colorado on charges of price-fixing broiler chickens produced for sale to restaurants and grocery stores. A Successful Farming Dot Com article says the U.S. Justice Department announced the charges on Thursday. The company’s president and vice president were previously indicted for their roles in a nationwide conspiracy to fix chicken prices from 2012 to 2019. If the company is found guilty, Claxton could be fined up to 100 million dollars or twice what it gained in the price-fixing. Claxton is based in Georgia and sells 300 million pounds of chicken every year to 750 customers, including some of the country’s biggest restaurant and grocery store chains. In February, Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation, one of the largest American poultry producers, pled guilty and was sentenced to pay $107.9 million to settle the federal charges that it conspired to fix chicken prices and passed on the costs to consumers and other purchasers. Pilgrim’s Pride is primarily owned by Brazilian meatpacker JBS SA.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 21, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Fed Sticking With Inflation View Fed officials met at the end of April and continued to hold to their view that the rise that was being seen at that point was "transitory" and would not be "more persistent than expected," according to minutes from the April 27-28 session. But that view may not be as universal as it seems or at least as universal as some Fed officials continue to insist. When the Fed issues the minutes from their meetings, they do not attach any names to comments and generally do not use any more than rather generic terms to describe the numbers that express a certain opinion. Terms like "some" or "few" or "many" are often used, leaving something to the imagination the actual number of Fed officials that think the way the comments indicate. And meeting recap dealing with inflation is case and point. The recap noted "some participants mentioned upside risks around the inflation outlook that could arise if temporary factors influencing inflation turned out to be more persistent than expected." When it came to their $120 billion per month purchase of bonds that aims to keep lending rates low and spur economic activity, their decision on when to begin tapering those purchases was notable. The decision to trim or "taper" those buys, would be one of the first actions by the Fed to tighten monetary policy -- make it more expensive to borrow money. The meeting recap noted that "some" emphasized their decision on the bond purchases would be determined by actual results, not on "uncertain economic forecasts." But there were "a couple of participants" who said the "risks of inflation pressures building up to unwelcome levels before they become sufficiently evident to induce a policy reaction." The Fed officials also noted the strong spending by consumers who were in part working off of stimulus dollars doled out by the government via the March COVID aid package. But that consumer spending is another potential inflation worry, according to the meeting recap. Rising consumer spending as the economy continues to reopen was another factor Fed officials said would likely "boost inflation temporarily, particularly if supply bottlenecks limited how quickly production could respond to demand in the near term." But even so, officials also "viewed these increases in prices as likely to have only transitory effects on inflation." As for when that discussion on tapering the bond purchases will start, "various participants" pointing out it would "likely be some time" before the Fed shifts from its stance that asset purchases will continue at least at the current pace until there is "substantial further progress" toward the Fed's goals. But the minutes also said that "a number" of Fed officials thought if the U.S. economy keeps posting rapid progress, that discussion on tapering the bond purchases would come at "upcoming meetings." That still leaves the Fed plenty of wiggle room on when that discussion will take place. But the rise in inflation may bring on that discussion faster than "some" Fed officials apparently think. There are five meetings of the Fed remaining this year -- June 15-16, July 27-28, September 21-22, November 2-3 and December 14-15. So we will see. The current monetary policy in place has kept interest and financing costs low for farmers, so the coming debate on those bond purchases is one that needs to be watched closely given the prospect that it will increase those borrowing costs and make them a rising, rather than falling, production expense, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 21, 2021 |


Biden Budget Release Pushed Back By One Day The Biden administration's Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget proposals will not be released until May 28, according to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), one day later than had been previously signaled. The budget release will be looked to for more details on the Biden tax and spending plans for FY 2022, including the $4 trillion the administration has proposed for infrastructure and social spending. And it will allow lawmakers on the Hill to really dig into the government funding issues ahead via the annual appropriations measures. And the situation will also factor into the efforts by Democrats to push through a budget resolution that will allow the use of budget reconciliation to bypass Senate rules that normally require 60 votes to get things like the $4 trillion in spending envisioned in the infrastructure and social plans.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 21, 2021 |


Court Invalidates Three SREs Granted Late By Trump Administration The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday invalidated three small refinery exemptions (SREs) granted by the Trump administration to Sinclair Wyoming Refining Company, returning the matter to EPA for review. EPA sought the court action, arguing the SREs--one for the 2018 compliance year and two for the 2019 compliance year--had been fully examined. Sinclair declined to oppose the EPA request. Biofuel backers welcomed the action, with Renewable Fuels Association CEO Geoff Cooper hailing the court action as they agreed the waivers had been "improperly granted." While a victory for biofuel supporters, the biofuel waiver issue is currently before the U.S. Supreme Court following an earlier Tenth Circuit decision that invalidated three SREs for the 2016 compliance year. And EPA has said they will not act on any pending SREs until after the nation's top court issues its ruling. And the number of pending SREs continues to rise as EPA now shows there are 32 pending for the 2019 compliance year and 18 for the 2020 compliance year, an increase of two for both years.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 21, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets The latest weather forecasts have gotten a lot of attention in this week's markets and will again Friday. China's appetite for U.S. new-crop corn has also gotten a lot of press and traders will be watching for the possibility of a seventh consecutive purchase on Friday. A report on U.S. existing home sales for April is due out at 9 a.m. CDT. USDA's cattle on-feed report for May 1 is set for 2 p.m. CDT with analysts expecting roughly 11.58 million head, a modest drop from last month's 11.90 million head. Weather A stream of moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will produce a band of scattered showers arcing north-northeast from Louisiana and eastern Texas through Lake Superior on Friday. Additional showers and thunderstorms are expected across the Northern Plains with some late afternoon and evening thunderstorms in the High Plains, the latter of which could be strong to severe. Showers should continue to improve soil moisture and ease drought across northern areas that have been in desperate need over the last several weeks. Snow in western Montana will continue through the day and there will be some occasional showers in the West as well.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 20, 2021 |


FFA Announces Hybrid Annual Convention The National FFA Organization announced Wednesday the organization will hold its annual in-person convention this fall in Indianapolis. The event, which traditionally brings more than 65,000 attendees, will take place October 27-30. Expected in-person events during the convention include the American FFA Degree Ceremony, Career Success Tours, competitive events, delegate business sessions, entertainment, the National FFA Expo and shopping mall, general sessions, student and teacher workshops, and the National Days of Service. In addition to the in-person event, the organization will also offer a virtual program, including student and teacher workshops, the virtual FFA Blue Room, National Days of Service and the streaming of general sessions. Dr. James Woodard, national FFA advisor, says, “We are excited to bring an in-person event back to our members and the city of Indianapolis.” In 2020, the organization canceled the in-person event due to the COVID-19 pandemic and instead offered a virtual experience. For more information, visit convention.FFA.org. ************************************************************************************ Produce Industry Sounds Alarm Over Pallet Shortage The United Fresh Produce Association says pallet shortages are disrupting the produce supply chain. The organization says the lack of pallets is adding stress to a supply chain that is already facing significant challenges. Other supply chain issues include a lack of available trucks and shipping containers, labor challenges and a pending shortage of resin used to make reusable containers and pallets. Expectations are that the pallet shortage will continue for months, perhaps for the balance of 2021. The shortage of lumber and wood products has increased the cost of raw lumber 200 percent to 350 percent and makes the cost of wood pallets increase incrementally. Some report over the past few weeks, pallet costs have increased more than 400 percent, if the pallets are even available. The organization warns that without ensuring pallet availability for produce shipments, "there is little doubt that it will be very difficult, if not impossible,” to meet consumer produce demand. ************************************************************************************ USDA Announce Cosby as NRCS Chief The Department of Agriculture Wednesday announced the appointment of Terry Cosby to serve as chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Cosby began his career with USDA in 1979 as a student trainee in Iowa. Over Cosby's 42 years with the agency, he has served in numerous capacities, most recently, Acting Chief of NRCS and State Conservationist for Ohio. Cosby also served in leadership positions at the agency in Iowa, Missouri and Idaho, before his time in Ohio. The National Association of Conservation Districts welcomed the announcement. NACD President Michael Crowder says of Cosby, “His extensive experience in conservation as a farmer, a sportsman and state conservationist will further strengthen NRCS’s impact on the nation’s land.” USDA also announced Meryl Harrell as deputy undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment. Harrell most recently served as the Executive Director of the Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards. Both will assume their positions Monday, May 24. ************************************************************************************ Meat Institute Responds to DOJ Investigation Calls The North American Meat Institute this week defended its members against allegations of wrongdoing in the cattle market. The response follows a closed-door meeting between livestock and farm groups focusing on ways to improve cattle market transparency and a letter from Republican lawmakers to the Department of Justice. The lawmakers requested DOJ continue its investigation regarding cattle market manipulation. In reaction, Meat Institute spokesperson Sarah Little told the Hagstrom Report, “In July 2020, USDA analyzed the effects of the 2019 Holcomb facility fire and the pandemic, finding no wrong-doing and confirming the disruption in the beef markets was due to devastating and unprecedented events.” She pointed to several announcements to build new packing facilities or expand capacity that will increase cattle slaughter capacity roughly four percent. In the letter to DOJ, the group or republican lawmakers state, “while black swan events do not always prove wrongdoing, additional attention can reinforce confidence in the system.” ************************************************************************************ NIFA Invests Over $2.3M for Small Business Innovation Research The Department of Agriculture this week announced a $2.3 million investment as part of the USDA Small Business Innovation Research Program. USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture recently awarded eight grants totaling $812,900 to small businesses to improve plant production and protection. Additionally, NIFA awarded eight grants totaling $797,600 for animal production and protection, and seven awards totaling $706,100 for conserving natural resources. NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille says the program, "stimulates technological innovations in the private sector and strengthens the role of federal research and development in support of small businesses." Funded plant production projects include research into domestic vanilla production, blueberry pollinators and plant-based proteins. Animal production projects include vaccine research, testing animal feed for quality and herd reproductivity data. Finally, conservation projects include fertilizer and irrigation research. The next Phase 1 request for Small Business Innovation Research applications is scheduled to open in July 2021, with a deadline in October 2021. Learn more at nifa.usda.gov. ************************************************************************************ Application Period Open for Conservation Innovation Grants Program The Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is investing up to $15 million to support the development of new conservation tools and practices. Specifically, NRCS is seeking new tools, approaches, practices and technologies to further natural resource conservation on private lands through the Conservation Innovation Grants program. USDA says CIG partners use creative problem solving and innovation to address our nation’s water quality, air quality, soil health and wildlife habitat challenges, all while improving agricultural operations. This year, funded grant partners will focus on climate-smart strategies for water resources, soil health, nutrient management, grazing lands conservation and strategies to increase conservation adoption. NRCS intends to expend at least ten percent of the total funding for CIG Classic on projects that are focused on providing conservation benefits to historically underserved producers. All U.S.-based non-Federal entities and individuals are eligible to apply. Proposals must be submitted through Grants.gov before July 20, 2021.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 20, 2021 |


Washington Insider: USMCA Sessions End With No Major Breakthroughs The first meeting of the Free Trade Commission (FTC), a panel established under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is now history, taking place the first two days of this week. The first day saw U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai meet one-on-one with Canadian Trade Minister Mary Ng and separately with Mexican Economy Minister Tatiana Clouthier. Those discussions saw Tai raise several issues, but the readouts from the parties involved did not signal any new or major breakthroughs were scored. Tuesday saw the three trade chiefs meet together and get presentations from various working group committees that were established under USMCA. Those panels provided various updates on issues and developments they were responsible for. One of the concrete developments that emerged came from the panel that met on small and medium-sized enterprises. That resulted in the setting up a session October 13-14 in San Antonio, Texas, for a "dialogue" on issues for those businesses. So that is at least a positive. The joint statement released by the three countries was long on the usual phrases that mark these kinds of meetings -- the talks were labeled "robust" and the three held discussions in which they said they would "recommit to fully implementing, enforcing, and fulfilling the Agreement's terms and high standards throughout the life of the USMCA." On issues of labor and environment, ones where Tai was expected to push her counterparts to think about putting a climate change component into the deal, those talks were termed "robust, forward-looking discussions." But again, that offers little in terms of substance regarding how the Canadians or Mexicans received what Tai was expected to bring up. Reports also indicate Mexico raised matters on automotive content rules under USMCA and Mexico called on the U.S. to review its ground transportation rules that provide Mexican truckers access to the U.S. market. The U.S. raised labor issues during sessions, noting that recent matters raised by both the U.S. and Mexico show "how well this can be used by both countries." On key ag trade topics, there was also little signs there was progress made. The U.S. filed a case late in the Trump administration which charged Canada was not fulfilling its commitments on implementing import quotas for dairy. Tai acknowledged that case in testimony last week before the U.S. Congress, but it's not clear any headway was made -- Ng related she signaled Canada believes it is implementing the provisions in USMCA when it comes to dairy. As for issues such as Mexico's policies on glyphosate and GMO corn, reports indicate that Mexico's economy ministry the country "reiterated its commitment to ensure compliance with the obligations assumed in the chapter on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, as well as to promptly address any problems or concerns that may arise." There also appears to be a difference of opinion between the U.S. and Canada on the issue of softwood lumber, another long-running dispute between the two that has seen the U.S. impose duties on imports of softwood lumber from Canada. Reports said that Ng she pressed the U.S. on its "unwarranted and unfair" tariffs on imports from Canada and the country would defend the sector and also sought to reach some kind of agreement. Interestingly, Tai told U.S. lawmakers last week that she, too, wanted to find some kind of agreement with Canada, but our neighbors to the north were not interested in negotiating. To be fair, the first meetings involving all three trade chiefs from the three countries should not have been expected to have all of the issues raised by each country resolved. That would have been a major development. But a session like this was more than likely used by each official as a way to "test the waters" and get a read on the official that will be on the other side of the table when it comes to really negotiating on these issues. That's when the statements of "robust" or "productive" talks could take on additional meaning. For example, an agreement suddenly on something like softwood lumber would have been shock since that dispute has been around for a long, long time. Keep in mind, this was also the first FTC meeting ever. So all three officials were probably feeling their way a bit relative to what they could -- or perhaps more importantly, couldn't do. So we will see. The trade issues that existed before the meeting are still there. And it appears there was little ground given by any of the officials. That means these will remain issues to be dealt with along with others that could also come to light in coming weeks and months. So these are clearly matters that farmers need to monitor closely, especially ones that deal with dairy, GMOs and glyphosate, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 20, 2021 |


Lawmakers Introduce Plans To Block Administration's 30x30 Plan Sens. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., and Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., have introduced the 30x30 Termination Act, a measure aimed at blocking the Biden administration's 30x30 plan that would seek to conserve 30% of land and water by 2030. Under the Biden administration's 30x30 plan, America the Beautiful, the program stresses voluntary conservation and expansion of USDA's conservation programs. Republicans, however, have portrayed the plan as an attempt to force conservation measures onto private landowners. The legislation prevents a number of actions on public and private land in the name of conservation, according to Marshall's office. "Land ownership is a core right protected by the Constitution and we cannot allow radical environmentalists who are in the driver's seat on 30x30 dictate what happens on our land. This initiative is further proof of the clear disconnect between the left and those who feed, fuel, and clothe the world," said Marshall. The measure would nullify the executive order being used to put the 30x30 initiative in place and blocks any funds from being spent to carry out the initiative among other provisions. Freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., has introduced companion legislation in the House.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 20, 2021 |


House Ag Chair Working On Disaster Aid Fund at USDA The U.S. government needs to be able to respond more quickly to natural disasters that affect agriculture that accompany climate change, House Agriculture chairman David Scott, D-Ga., remarked during a "member day" hearing the panel held Tuesday. "Many of our farms are done away with because we move too slow" in drafting and passing relief bills, he said. "We are working on a bill to set up a permanent disaster aid that is already there, that we can get help down to our farmers." Scott noted the possibility of such a fund at USDA after another lawmaker on the panel said he wanted to get losses for 2020 included in the Wildfires and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP-Plus). "Just let me tell you, this is an issue we are grappling with on the committee … disaster aid is so critical," said Scott. "I'm trying to put together an effort to create a separate immediate disaster aid fund, so it doesn't have to go the regular appropriations process (which) takes too long." He added that "this climate is really causing us to come up to our challenges." However, it is not clear yet how any permanent disaster fund would impact the crop insurance program.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 20, 2021 |


Thursday Watch List Markets USDA's weekly export sales report is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT, along with U.S. weekly jobless claims and an update of the U.S. Drought Monitor. Traders will pause at 8 a.m. to see if China signs up for more new-crop corn. An index of leading U.S. indicators will be out at 9 a.m., followed by the Energy Department's weekly report of natural gas inventory at 9:30 a.m. CDT. Weather Drought-easing precipitation is in store Thursday in the northern Midwest, northern Plains and Canadian Prairies. The moisture will occur mostly as rain with some snow. We'll also see a wide swath of light rain from the western Midwest south to the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast. Other primary crop areas will be dry.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 19, 2021 |


Lawmakers Urge DOJ to Continue Cattle Industry Investigation Lawmakers from South Dakota this week led an effort urging the Department of Justice to continue its investigation into the nation’s four biggest meatpackers. Republican Senator John Thune and Republican Representative Dusty Johnson also requested that DOJ provide Congress with updates on its investigation and encouraged ongoing vigilance. The lawmakers write, “It is critically important that producers have fair and transparent markets for the commodities they produce.” The letter comes as last week a group of six livestock and farm groups held a rare meeting unifying the diverse backgrounds of the organizations focusing on cattle market transparency. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association welcomed the letter. NCBA Vice President of Government Affairs Ethan Lane says, “We have a high supply of cattle at one end of this equation and a high demand for U.S. beef at the other, but the middle is being absolutely choked by the lack of processing capacity.” ************************************************************************************ USTR Raises Ag Concerns with Mexico, Canada U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai raised agriculture concerns with Mexico and Canada on the sidelines of the Free Trade Commission of the United States, Mexico and Canada meeting Monday. A readout document posted to the USTR website noted Tai engaged with counterparts from Canada and Mexico. Regarding Canada, Tai stressed, "the importance of Canada fully meeting its USMCA commitments, including its allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas and home-shopping.” They also discussed softwood lumber and WTO reform and agreed to continue collaborating on addressing these issues and others. As for Mexico, Tai emphasized the importance of several issues, including science- and risk-based regulatory approaches in agriculture, access for U.S. fresh potatoes to all of Mexico, and an immediate resumption of authorizations of agricultural biotechnology products in Mexico. The U.S., Canada and Mexico, this week took part in the inaugural meeting of the trade commission. The meeting helps all three countries discuss cooperation and trade issues regarding USMCA. ************************************************************************************ Drought Forces California Farmers to Leave Fields Empty For some farmers in California, there's not enough water to grow a crop this year. Bloomberg News reports farmers north of San Francisco are not participating in farmers' markets or produce box programs and are leaving fields empty. California grows one-third of U.S. vegetables and two-thirds of U.S. fruits and nuts. Normally, California receives the bulk of its water needs from the winter season. However, the current drought has diminished the supply, leaving growers of specialty crops without enough water, as the La Nina weather pattern pulled winter storms away from the state. Nearly all of the 11 states in the U.S. Drought Monitor western region are suffering from some form of drought. Much of the southwest is in an extreme or exceptional drought classification. In the Four Corners states, the last 12- and 24-month periods were both the driest on record for the region. And, the western fire season, typically starting in the summer months, is already underway. ************************************************************************************ West Texas Cattle Ranch to hit International Marketplace The massive Turkey Track Ranch hits the international market later this year. After 120 years, the family owners have decided to sell the near 80,000 acres of ranchland, known as the Prize of the Panhandle. Land brokers representing the ranch state, “It is simply revered and respected for being good, diverse, stout, and solid. It is both beautiful and productive and has been well managed at every level.” Located in the Texas panhandle, the ranch is one of the largest in the state. The Whittenburg and Coble families, current owners of the ranch, state, “Due to our family's increasing numbers and geographical distances, we recognize that it is time to find a new steward for this historic holding.” The Turkey Track Ranch was first established around 1878, making it one of the first five ranches in the Texas Panhandle. The property is also the site of the two famed battles of the Adobe Walls of 1864 and 1874. ************************************************************************************ Piglets Pay the Price of Mom’s Heat Stress Piglets born to heat-stressed sows may carry the burden of their mother’s discomfort later in life in the form of health complications and diminished performance. Now, this so-called "in utero heat stress" may also hypersensitize the piglet’s immune system, potentially doing more harm than good to the young animals, according to the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. Pigs are more susceptible to heat stress due to an inability to sweat. This places them at greater risk of health and production problems that can add up to millions of dollars annually in revenue losses to swine producers. Research has shown that pigs experiencing heat stress during pregnancy can predispose their offspring to complications later in life that can lead to diminished performance, including efficient feed use, growth rate and ultimately, pork production. However, less is known about how heat stress affects their offspring’s innate immunity. The USDA research is helping the industry learn more. ************************************************************************************ Bayer COO Begemann Retires Bayer this week announced that Brett Begemann, Chief Operating Officer for Crop Science, will retire from his role after 38 years with the company. Rodrigo Santos, currently Head of Crop Science Commercial Operations for Latin America, will succeed Begemann and assume global responsibility for the division's commercial organization. During his tenure with the company, Begemann held several global and regional leadership positions and had responsibility for global commercial and operations teams at Monsanto before the acquisition by Bayer. As President and Chief Operating Officer at Monsanto Company, he led global efforts to increase manufacturing and supply chain efficiency, as well as the company's growth agenda. Santos, a Brazilian national, has spent over 23 years with the company and has led the Latin American Crop Science business for Bayer since the integration of Monsanto and Bayer in 2018. Earlier in his career, Santos worked in sales, marketing, strategy and business development roles, including a leadership role in Eastern Europe.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 19, 2021 |


Washington Insider: The Push for Electric Vehicles A key part of the climate goals by the Biden administration is reducing and eventually eliminating vehicle emissions. That is part of a $174 billion push to put more electric vehicles on U.S. roads by the Biden administration. President Joe Biden traveled to Dearborn, Mich., to see firsthand the new Ford F-150 picking that is electric powered, not using an internal combustion engine. But even that push by Ford drew some comments by Biden about the prospects that EVs could be built in other countries and brought back into the U.S. "We need automakers and other companies to keep investing here in America and not take the benefits of our public investments and expand electric vehicles and battery manufacturing abroad," Biden said, a reference to Ford rival General Motors announcing plants to make a $1 billion investment in building EVs in Mexico and Ford opting to build some EVs in Mexico versus Ohio. But even as Biden got to drive the F-150 that will formally be unveiled on Wednesday, it was still camouflaged so that no one could get an early peek at the new truck. Rather than using consumer incentives for high-priced vehicles, Reuters reported that the White House wants to use government spending "to prod Americans to buy electric vehicles." Rebates and tax credits are the usual routes used to financially encourage consumers to buy something like an EV that can be more expensive than a traditionally gasoline-power vehicle. But there are consumer rebates involved in the push for them to purchase EVs -- $100 billion of the $174 billion effort is for such rebates. More spending on battery facilities and technologies is also planned as a way to bring the cost of the EVs down. There has been a $7,500 tax credit for the purchase of EVs, but White House Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy told Bloomberg TV that Biden is looking to "actually provide consumer rebates at the point of sale." She argues that will make it more likely that lower or middle-income Americans might be able to afford the vehicles. One of the keys for EVs, however, is charging stations. There are currently less than 100,000 of them in the U.S., and few if any in more remote areas of the country. And the cost of putting those charging stations in place will be a key one with the administration wanting Congress to approve funding to put 500,000 of them in place. But many point out even that many charging stations will not be enough to meet an aggressive push for EVs. The other issues for EVs that consumers will need to be convinced of will include their range. Currently, there is about a 250-mile range for EVs, a range that works fairly well for urban settings. But that may temper interest in areas where consumers have to drive for distances to get even basic services. The recharging time will also be important even if there are more charging stations available. And for those in northern climates, there is the issue of winter travel. Currently, internal combustion engines provide heat to keep vehicle passengers warm. In EVs, providing heat takes extra battery power and reduces the travel range. By putting an EV pickup together in the form of the best-selling F-150, Ford is clearly trying to woo what may well be one of the more difficult-to-convince customers: Farmers. They rely on vehicles and at times need to travel at a moment's notice. And having to charge a vehicle first or fully to do that could be a major hurdle. But those championing EVs contend there will be better and better battery technology ahead that will address these issues. But then the same argument was made on cellulosic ethanol which has failed to reach that key "commercially viable" stage. And then there is the matter of replacing gasoline-powered vehicles, something which means less ethanol being used. And that is raising more than a few concerns with farmers who have helped in the push for ethanol over the years. So we will see. EVs are clearly going to be in the U.S. vehicle mix ahead and will increase in numbers and use. But the broad deployment of those vehicles is coming. And with that will come challenges and opportunities, matters which agriculture will need to monitor closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 19, 2021 |


Antitrust Push On Beef Packers Lawmakers and attorneys general from several states are pushing the Department of Justice (DOJ) to continue their investigation the four largest meatpackers in the U.S. In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, a bipartisan group of House and Senate members called on DOJ to continue the investigation of "improper and anticompetitive activities in the live cattle and beef industry" that was launched one year ago. They cited a lack of information from the investigation, noting "there is no information to even suggest whether the investigation has concluded or is still ongoing." They called for the continuation of the investigation and requested an update on the situation. Cattle producers and small producers in particular are continuing to see difficult conditions, the lawmakers said. "It is critically important that producers have fair and transparent markets for the commodities they produce," the letter stated. "We urge the DOJ Antitrust Division to continue vigilance and where possible, provide updates of findings."

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 19, 2021 |


Bilaterals Marked First Day Of US-Mexico-Canada Agreement Confab U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai met with both Canadian Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng and Mexican Secretary of Economy Tatiana Clouthier on the first day of two days of meetings under the Free Trade Commission established under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). With Ng, Tai pressed on issues relative to Canada "fully meeting its USMCA commitments, including its allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas and home-shopping." The Trump administration brought the dairy case in late 2020 and Tai has said she will seek to use negotiation with Canada to move the issue forward. Ambassador Tai also expressed concern about Canada's recently proposed digital service tax, according to a readout of the session from the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). "They also discussed softwood lumber and WTO reform," the statement said. However, the dairy issue was not mentioned in a similar readout of the session released by Canada, with Ng raising issues with Tai on the U.S. Buy American effort. With Clouthier, Tai raised several "ongoing issues," the readout of their session said, including "science- and risk-based regulatory approaches in agriculture; access for U.S. fresh potatoes to all of Mexico; an immediate resumption of authorizations of agricultural biotechnology products in Mexico; an energy policy that respects U.S. investment and is consistent with efforts to tackle climate change; and enhanced trade facilitation efforts." Mexico's labor situation was also an issue broached along with U.S. investigations into Mexican agricultural products, according to a recap from Mexico.

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 19, 2021 |


Wednesday Watch List Markets Traders will check the latest weather forecasts early and, given China's recent appetite for new-crop corn, will stop at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has another sale announcement. The U.S. Energy Department has its weekly energy inventory report at 9:30 a.m., including ethanol production. Minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting will be released at 1 p.m. CDT. Weather Moderate to heavy rain is in store from the southeastern Plains through the Coastal Bend Wednesday. The heavy rain will cause flooding and will be unfavorable for crops. Farther north, light rain will cover much of the western and southern Midwest. Dry northern crop areas remain in line to receive moisture as rain and snow beginning Thursday.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 18, 2021 |


Trade Officials Begin USMCA Summit Trade talks are underway between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, as part of a two-day summit regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The agreement is nearing its first anniversary, and there are a handful of issues of concern. Politico reports there are continuing labor concerns between the U.S. and Mexico and trade barriers in place by Mexico and Canada. Farm groups have concerns over recent policies by Mexico, including decisions against genetically modified corn and the use of glyphosate, along with concerns over a new Mexican food labeling law aimed at combating obesity. Regarding Canada, the U.S. dairy industry claims Canada is placing barriers to U.S. products and wants Canada to open markets more quickly. U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told lawmakers last week those issues should be explored, because USMCA includes mechanisms to do so. However, Tai cautions, it’s too early to say if Canada has violated its dairy commitments included in the agreement. *********