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| 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. ************************************************************************************ Dairy Groups Seek Broad Focus on Pricing Reform Five Midwestern dairy groups evaluating solutions to federal milk pricing issues recently sent their comprehensive focus to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The groups seek a broad scope of focus should there be a Federal Milk Marketing Orders emergency hearing about reform. In April, the groups announced a proposal called Class III Plus, aimed at creating long-term stability in fluid milk pricing and reducing the likelihood of negative producer price differentials. Class III Plus would tie the Class I price to the Class III skim milk price plus an adjuster and do away with advanced pricing. The letter states, "We believe in order reform, but we would prefer to tackle more than just Class I pricing if we are going to go to the trouble and effort of having a hearing with national scope.” The groups include the Dairy Business Association, Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Nebraska State Dairy Association and South Dakota Dairy Producers. ************************************************************************************ Land Values Near 2014 Peak Average sales prices for high-quality land in many states are at or near the peak prices last seen in January 2014, according to Farmers National Company's internal estimates to be released in June. Land values have taken a sizable jump the past six months, and the new levels reflect that move. For instance, the company says the June 2021 value for Illinois will be $12,300 per acre versus $12,500 per acre in January 2014. The estimated price per acre in Arkansas was $5,000 at the start of 2014 and is now $5,600. Ohio was $8,000 per acre and is now $8,150 per acre. Each January and June, Farmers National Company publishes its estimates of the average sales price for better quality cropland observed in each of eighteen states. The estimates are intended to show the trend in land sale prices in each state and not reflect individual sales that may be higher or lower. ************************************************************************************ Farm Profit Projections Mixed Through 2030 The Department of Agriculture's Economic Research service projections for farm profits are mixed through 2030. USDA ERS provides forecasts for net cash farm income and net farm income, two major profitability indicators of the agricultural sector. Net farm income is a broader measure of farm sector profitability that incorporates noncash items. Net cash farm income includes only gross cash income minus all cash expenses. For last year, ERS forecasts net farm income to be at $123 billion, which was $31 billion more than the 20-year average, and net farm income at $139 billion. Further projections estimate these profitability indicators to rise in 2022, then level off through 2030 because of a projected increase in production expenses. In 2030, both measures of farm income are projected to be lower than their 2020 forecasts. Net farm income is projected to remain slightly higher than the recent 20-year average, but net farm cash income is projected to be lower for 2021-30. ************************************************************************************ NRECA Calls for Federal Clean Energy Tax Credit The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and other industry groups seek a federal clean energy tax credit. In a letter to lawmakers, the groups ask for support of tax policies that will allow public power and electric cooperatives to fully utilize direct pay for renewable and clean energy tax credits. President Joe Biden has set ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power generation, transportation, and other sources. The groups say reaching the goals will be a daunting challenge for community-owned electric utilities. All the increased costs associated with reshaping their generation profile will burden customers and consumer-owners. The letter says allowing public power utilities and rural electric cooperatives to receive tax credits as direct payments for building clean energy infrastructure would ensure that all utilities serving Americans would have equal access to federal resources. The direct payments would be used to help offset project costs for public power utilities and rural electric cooperatives. ************************************************************************************ Pipeline Outage Sparks National Average Gas Price Increase For the fourth consecutive week, the national average price of gasoline increased, posting a 6.4 cent per gallon gain from a week ago to $3.03 per gallon. The national average now stands 16.8 cents higher than a month ago and $1.17 per gallon higher than a year ago. The national average price of diesel increased 6.3 cents in the last week and stands at $3.17 per gallon. The jump was largely attributed to the Colonial Pipeline shutdown. GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan says, "With the pipeline now back in service, I expect prices to come down in the hardest-hit states." De Haan says the drops should lead the national average to fall back under the $3 per gallon mark. But, he cautions, “prices may start to head higher in a few weeks should Memorial Day gasoline demand be red hot.” The most common U.S. gas price encountered by motorists was $2.89 per gallon, up 20 cents from last week.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 18, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Tariffs Talks Between U.S. and EU The use of tariffs as a trade tool is one that has been around for decades. And, so too has the concept of pausing those tariffs. The Biden administration touted the four-month suspension of tariffs in the long running disputes over large civil aircraft between the U.S. and the European Union (EU) and the U.S. and UK. The U.S. tariffs against the EU and UK were imposed by the Trump administration with the backing of the WTO. The U.S. had successfully challenged the subsidies provided to Airbus by certain EU countries. As is usually the case, the WTO scaled back the level of tariffs that the U.S. could impose. There was a delay in the EU putting retaliatory tariffs in place after they also won a WTO ruling against subsidies they maintained were provided to Boeing. The underlying dispute over large civil aircraft dates back some 16 years. It took until early 2020 for the U.S. to be able to hit the EU with tariffs. The EU followed up later in 2020 which prompted another response from the U.S. to broaden the level of tariffs. Then in March this year, the U.S. and EU and separately the U.S. and UK announced a four-month suspension in tariffs as they try to reach a solution in the long-running disputes. Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said she fully expected the four-month period would result in a solution. Considering that we are now halfway through the four-month cease fire, that could be an optimistic statement by Tai. After all, some argue that outside of the tariffs, there would really not be a reason for the parties involved to actually resolve the disputes given the length of time where a deal could have been reached. Others still argue that perhaps the "fresh" look at the disputes by the Biden administration might just be enough to push the issue to the finish line. And now there is another tariff suspension that has popped up, this time the EU pledging now to impose higher tariffs on a host of U.S. goods as a response to U.S. Section 232 tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. USTR Tai did not give any hint that a suspension was potentially in the cards from the EU when she testified to House and Senate panels last week. And lawmakers raised the issue of those higher tariffs that loomed as of June 1. But these are not the first uses of suspensions of tariffs. Recall that China hit U.S. agricultural products with tariffs in response to U.S. Section 301 tariffs against China that hit a host of products. But, China itself suspended those tariffs last year as they sought to boost imports of U.S. goods, purchases that were outlined in the Phase One agreement between the U.S. and China. So it is clear that tariffs have been used in trade actions, but so have suspensions of tariffs as countries seek to achieve a certain goal or at least cool tensions to allow officials to negotiate in earnest to figure out solutions. So we will see. The use of tariffs is not likely going away and there is no sign the U.S. is ready to pull back tariffs imposed by China. But ag interests should watch the situation closely as tariff suspensions can at least provide some relief and could set the stage for trade resolutions or successes, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 18, 2021 |


USITC Votes To Continue Probe Into Imports Of India Organic Soymeal The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) Friday (May 14) unanimously voted to continue the investigation into the import of organic soymeal from India. The USITC said there is a "reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of organic soybean meal from India that are allegedly subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value." The U.S. Department of Commerce will continue its investigations of imports of organic soybean meal from India, with its preliminary countervailing duty determination due on or about June 24, 2021, and its preliminary antidumping duty determination due on or about September 7, 2021. The USITC will issue a report after June 14 on views of the agency and information it gathered during the investigation.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 18, 2021 |


More Time to Provide Info to USDA on Climate Actions USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Monday published a notice in the Federal Register that extends the comment period for 30 days relative to its request for comments on Supply Chains for the Production of Agricultural Commodities and Food Products. AMS published the request April 21 and sought public comments by May 21. But based on requests from stakeholders and organizations for "additional time to provide thoughtful and thorough feedback to this request." Specifically, AMS said it received requests from "representatives of critical supply chain activities whose comments would be of great value." Comments are now due June 21. It is not surprising that USDA is allowing more time for comments since their request was very broad -- supply chains for the production of ag commodities and food products. That cuts a very wide swath and USDA asked for comments on any aspects of that, including which current programs and policies could be deployed on that front.

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 18, 2021 |


Tuesday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. housing starts in April is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Tuesday, followed by USDA's Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook at 11 a.m. Traders will stay close to the latest weather forecast and any export sales news that emerges. Weather Tuesday brings another day of rain from the central Plains and mid-Mississippi Valley to the Coastal Bend. Amounts will vary; however, heavy totals with flash flood potential are indicated from the southeastern Plains to the Coastal Bend. Other primary crop areas will be dry. Temperatures continue to show notably warmer trends in most areas.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 17, 2021 |


Mississippi River Reopens to Shipping The U.S. Coast Guard said there were over 1,000 barges backed up along the lower Mississippi River late last week. The Coast Guard stopped all traffic on the river near Memphis, Tennessee, after a fracture was discovered in a bridge that carries traffic over the river. The good news is barge traffic was allowed to resume last Friday. The U.S. Coast Guard issued a statement saying that “Based on the information provided to us by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the Coast Guard has determined that transit under the I-40 bridge is safe for maritime traffic,” says USCG Captain Ryan Rhodes, the Captain of the Port of Memphis. Mike Steenhoek (STEEN-hook) of the U.S. Soy Transportation Coalition says, “This is obviously good news. We look forward to seeing barge traffic on the Mississippi River back to normal conditions soon.” Steenhoek also notes that the U.S. can be increasingly described as a spending nation, not I hope that this situation will spur efforts to produce a comprehensive infrastructure investment strategy that addresses the needs of both urban and rural America.” ********************************************************************************************** Bronaugh Confirmed as USDA Deputy Secretary Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says he’s grateful for last week’s confirmation of Dr. Jewell Bronaugh as Deputy Secretary of the USDA. “Dr. Bronaugh’s confirmation is historic, as she will serve as the first black woman and woman of color to be named Deputy Secretary,” Vilsack says in a statement. “Dr. Bronaugh has a long, distinguished career as an educator and champion for farmers and rural communities.” She most recently served as the 16th Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, where she worked to expand opportunities for small and midsized farmers and ranchers to obtain infrastructure and processing capabilities. Bronaugh also developed strategies to meet environmental and water quality goals for Chesapeake Bay. “She speaks respectfully of producers and rural Americans, and believes that as a public servant, her job is to find a way to help those who need it,” Vilsack adds. “I look forward to working with Dr. Bronaugh to help ensure that USDA lives up to its calling to be a department that serves all people equally and fairly.” ********************************************************************************************** Land Grants, Extension to Teach Rural America About Vaccines The USDA says that land-grant universities and the Cooperative Extension System will step up educational efforts to improve COVID vaccine confidence in rural America. The announcement comes as the Centers for Disease Control says that fully vaccinated people don’t need to wear masks for most outdoor and indoor activities. The new educational effort will use a $9.95 million CDC grant given to the Ag Department’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “Cooperative Extension agents are recognized and trusted messengers in their communities and can help deliver fact-based information on the COVID-19 vaccine and other adult vaccines,” says Jay Butler, CDC deputy director for infectious diseases. NIFA Director Carrie Castille (Cas-STEEL) says, “Cooperative Extension has a century of experience as change agents and educators in communities across America. NIFA is proud to be the federal partner with such a trusted education resource, but especially in this effort to deliver science-based vaccine education.” The Hagstrom Report says a “Facts Not Fear” website, developed by Extension staff, contains a curated collection of culturally appropriate resources from the CDC, the National Institutes of Health, Johns Hopkins, and USDA. ********************************************************************************************** Effort Underway to Stop Iowa’s E15 Mandate A new effort is underway in Iowa to stop a proposed fuel mandate from becoming law. KCCI-TV in Des Moines says beginning in 2026, Governor Kim Reynolds’ mandate will require E15 to be sold at every gas station in the state. A group against requiring gas stations to sell E15 is trying to get drivers to rally behind them in the fight against the bill. The group calls itself The Fuel Choice Coalition, and it’s plastering stickers on pumps at many convenience stores and gas stations. The stickers say, “Iowa lawmakers are taking up a law that will result in higher gas prices,” and they also feature a QR code that helps drivers send an email against the move to legislators. The opponents say the bill will force gas stations to make expensive upgrades to their tanks, which will cause fuel prices to “skyrocket.” They note that 1,500 sites in the state would have to spend anywhere from $300 million to $800 million, a cost that will have to be “passed on to consumers.” However, farmers support the legislation, saying it will help improve the ag economy that Iowa depends on. ********************************************************************************************** Kansas City Southern Makes New Railroad Deal Canadian National Railroad outbid Canadian Pacific in its attempt to buy the Kansas City Southern Railroad. Global News says Kansas City Southern determined that CN’s revised bid of $33.6 billion was better than the $25 billion it had already gotten from Canadian Pacific. The new CN offer includes $200 in cash for each KC Southern share, but Canadian National upped its offer of 1.129 shares of its stock. The transaction also includes about $3.8 billion in Kansas City Southern’s debt. Canadian National’s President says the combined railroad will connect Canada with the U.S. and Mexico and take advantage of the expected growth in trade between the three nations in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. KC Southern had been reviewing both bids and holding talks with both potential buyers since CN got involved with the bidding last month. So far, Canadian Pacific has declined to up its offer for KC Southern. CP officials say the Canadian National deal will have trouble getting approved by regulators concerned about the deal’s impact on competition. CP says combining KC Southern and Canadian National would hurt competition because they both have rail lines that compete for business between the Midwest and the Gulf Coast. Canadian Pacific’s network connects to KC Southern near its headquarters, but the two railroads don’t overlap elsewhere. *********************************************************************************************** Lamb Board Launches Outdoor Cooking Adventures Campaign The great outdoors and grilling are favorites of many people across the country. The American Lamb Board wants to help consumers make the most of their outdoor adventures by launching the American Lamb Outdoor Cooking Campaign. The recipe contest challenges outdoor enthusiasts to showcase their outdoor cooking prowess with American lamb in short videos. The board also partnered with chefs, pitmasters, and outdoor cooking experts to develop and share a variety of American Lamb recipes and videos for grilling, smoking, and over-the-fire cooking. “We’re so excited about all the opportunities this campaign has to put the spotlight on our great American-raised meat,” says Gwen Kitzan, ALB Chair. “Earlier this spring, our consumer poll earned an exceptional amount of media coverage, and now we’re implementing the recipe collection that adds video excitement to the mix.” The new campaign section is available on the American Lamb Board website at www.americanlamb.com. Consumers can also download or order copies of the new Outdoor Cooking Adventures recipe booklet that features six new lamb recipes for everything from ribs to burgers to kabobs.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 17, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Focus on Inflation Continues A pair of inflation reports last week beat expectations to the upside, signaling that inflation may be building in the U.S. economy. And the situation remains a focus across the U.S. economy -- from Washington to Main Street. As the Biden administration has pushed through the $1.9 trillion COVID aid in March that was in addition to some $900 billion that lawmakers agreed to in December, inflation was cited as a potential impact from the big fiscal outlays. Federal Reserve officials have continued to insist that the situation with inflation will be "transitory" -- in other words, not big enough nor sustained enough for them to have to tighten monetary policy to cool down the economy. Even as both the reading on inflation at the consumer -- the Consumer Price Index (CPI) -- and at the wholesale level -- Producer Price Index (PPI) -- came in above expectations and put the annual rate of inflation much above where market expectations were, the Fed did not change its tune. At the White House, Bloomberg reports that President Joe Biden's top advisers are sensing there is a growing political challenge ahead from the spike in inflation, "even as they see little immediate peril to the economy from price increases that officials expect will last through the rest of the year." They point to the rise in inflation coming for items like used cars, air travel and hotels. The price rise in April for rental cars was the sharpest for the used car index since that data began being kept in the 1950s. Some argue that the shortage of computer chips for new cars has dried up or severely curtailed their availability, forcing those needing a new vehicle to turn the used car market. But the White House also views the surge in prices as being from pent-up demand being unleashed as consumers emerge from the COVID pandemic, "That's different from a sustained pick-up in inflation, they argue," according to Bloomberg. Besides the Fed, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said she it not concerned about the rise in inflation. But she is monitoring it closely, Bloomberg said. Markets have also taken note. The S&P 500 dropped sharply on the release of CPI data, but turned around to post gains on Thursday and Friday. Plus, bond yields also retreated after a recent rise. Both are being taken as a sign that markets are not overly concerned about the inflation bump. What the situation has prompted, Bloomberg said, is that the administration are now "mulling ways to better explain the rise in prices to the American public, while backing away from putting any specific time frame on when the price volatility will end." And therein comes the political situation. Republicans are already taking note of the big rise in inflation and are readying it as one of their tools/talking points for the midterm elections in 2022. But some Democrats are also sounding the alarm. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and economist Jason Furman are sounding concerns about the situation. "I'd love to see them tilt a notch toward concern about inflation, but I think they'll mostly be doing more to explain this away," Furman, the head of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama said last week on Bloomberg TV. The administration hears all the concerns, and officials are bracing for a potentially difficult time ahead as they contend with rising inflation and figure out how to explain it in a way that will ease consumer worries. Already, consumer sentiment declined recently with some linking it to the rise in inflation. Council of Economic Advisers Chair Cecilia Rouse on Friday took part in a White House briefing and cautioned that the months ahead could be "choppy" in terms of inflation. "There's going to be a period, as supply starts to equal demand and sectors are healing and recovering" that features some "choppiness," Rouse said. "We're making good progress" in restarting economy, but there's still "a long way to go," she said. There are about $4 trillion reasons that the Biden administration is watching the inflation situation as closely as they are as that is the amount of additional spending the White House wants Congress to approve in the form of $2.25 trillion for inflation and $1.8 trillion for social spending. If consumers become spooked by rising prices, that could sour support for another big installment of government spending. So we will see. Agriculture is also seeing price inflation, but it is somewhat welcome for the sector as commodity prices lifted higher as 2021 has progressed as demand for commodities has been strong and there are supply concerns in some key areas around the globe. The rise in prices is rebuilding the financial health of the U.S. ag sector. But if the inflation picture gets out of hand and it is enough to prompt the Fed to tighten monetary policy, a rise in interest rates could easily eat up the commodity price gains as costs would rise for farmers, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 17, 2021 |


USTR Tai Signals She Will Raise Several Trade issues With Mexico, Canada The first meeting of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Free Trade Commission will be a busy one as U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai listed several items she will raise in the meeting as she testified last week before U.S. congressional trade panels. Mexico's GMO and glyphosate actions, Mexican labor issues and Canadian dairy actions are all items Tai said she will be raising with her counterparts from Mexico and Canada in the first meeting of the Free Trade Commission this week. On other trade areas, Tai still did not shed a lot of light on the U.S. trade focus ahead nor provide lawmakers with additional information on the U.S. worker-centric trade policy. She did not provide much more on the timeline for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) which expires in July and did not give lawmakers a significant update on prospects for U.S.-Kenya or U.S.-UK trade negotiations that were started by the Trump administration.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 17, 2021 |


USDA to Make Big Seafood Buy USDA said it will purchase up to $159.4 million in domestically produced seafood, fruits, legumes, and nuts for distribution to a variety of domestic food assistance programs, including charitable institutions -- the largest purchase of U.S. raised seafood by the USDA to date. The purchases will be done using authority under Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act and is "one of many actions USDA is taking to address the disruptions in the food system supply chain and worsened food insecurity resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic," USDA said. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack noted the fisheries and seafood sector have been dealt a "heavy blow" from COVID and this action is one of many efforts to address those effects. Selected commodities include: Alaska pollock, apricots (canned, dried, and frozen), chickpeas, dry peas, Gulf of Mexico and South Atlantic wild-caught shrimp, lentils, navy beans, Pacific pink shrimp, Pacific rockfish fillets, Pacific whiting fillets, pistachios, prepared peaches, and sockeye (red) salmon. The inventories of these commodities are in high oversupply due to a decrease in demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption in the supply chain, as restaurants and other outlets closed during the pandemic.

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 17, 2021 |


Monday Watch List Markets Traders will check the latest weather forecasts to start the week and pause at 8 a.m. CDT to see if USDA has any export sales news. China has been putting in early claims on U.S. new-crop corn. USDA's weekly report of grain export inspections is due out at 10 a.m. CDT. The National Oilseeds Processors Association will release its member estimate of soybean crush in April later Monday morning. USDA's Crop Progress report is set for 3 p.m. and is likely to show another active week of planting progress for row crops. Weather Showers and thunderstorms with locally heavy rain will cover much of the southern Plains, southern and eastern Midwest, and the Delta Monday. The rain will be favorable for crops; however, some flash flooding and severe storm intensity are also possible in the southern Plains. Meanwhile, dry areas of the northern Plains and northern Midwest have a high to extreme fire threat due to very warm, dry and windy conditions.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 14, 2021 |


Agrisafe Launches Agristress Network AgriSafe Network this week announced the launch of the AgriStress Response Network. The launch coincides with May as mental health awareness month. The network includes agriculture professionals committed to sharing non-proprietary information, ensuring that resources and training are widely disseminated to reduce farmer and rancher stress. The effort seeks to eliminate the stigma of seeking support for mental health, including depression, anxiety and farmer suicide. AgriSafe says research shows 20 percent of any population has mental health complications, including farmers and ranchers. Stigma and privacy concerns associated with mental health issues may mean that many people do not seek out available behavioral health services. Many of the factors that affect agricultural production are largely beyond the control of the producer. For example, isolation, variability in weather, lack of access to health services, and low commodity prices, could have a direct impact on the rise in mental health issues. Learn more about the network at agrisafe.org. ************************************************************************************ Farm Credit Conditions Show Additional Strength Agricultural credit conditions in the Tenth District of the Federal Reserve continued to strengthen in the first quarter of 2021. After a sharp rebound at the end of 2020, conditions in the broad agricultural economy continued to improve alongside additional increases in crop prices. Stronger profit potential for farm borrowers supported a second consecutive quarter of significant increases in farm income, loan repayment rates and farmland values, according to the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. Overall, farm borrowers in the district were in a better financial position than at the beginning of 2020, but the pace of improvement was notably slower for livestock producers and for producers in areas affected by severe drought. Cattle prices remained below pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter, and the scope and severity of drought was a major concern in western states. The Tenth District includes portions of Missouri and New Mexico, along with Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wyoming. ************************************************************************************ Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Restore Forests and Grasslands A group of Senators Thursday announced the Joint Chiefs Landscape Restoration Partnership Act of 2021. The legislation would formally authorize the Department of Agriculture’s Joint Chiefs’ Landscape Restoration Partnership Initiative to better support forest and grassland restoration projects across public and private land. The lawmakers say the bill supports voluntary restoration projects across ownership boundaries, so that treatments can occur across a landscape. Since USDA launched Joint Chiefs in 2014, the initiative has supported 93 projects, treated 300,000 acres of hazardous fuels, restored 29,000 acres in watersheds, and enhanced 200,000 acres of wildlife habitat. The legislation would formally establish the program at USDA, double its funding to help meet demand, and improve outreach and accountability. Senators Micheal Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, and John Hoeven, A North Dakota Republican, introduced the bill in the Senate. House Democrats Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Joe Neguse, along with Republican Kelly Armstrong of North Dakota, introduced the bill in the House. ************************************************************************************ United Fresh and PMA Members Approve of New Organization The Produce Marketing Association and United Fresh Produce Association held a member vote this week to seek approval to move forward in creating a single new organization. The new organization, announced earlier, this year will represent the global produce and floral communities. Each organization solicited votes from their members, and both reported full confidence in the initiative. The member vote was the final step in approval to dissolve each organization at end of year to incorporate a new association launching January 1, 2022. PMA and United Fresh have indicated that the next priority will be to create the organization’s new structure focused on best serving the industry’s needs and goals. Members can expect an update on the staff team, volunteer leadership structure, and business plans for 2022 in the coming months. Based on the member vote, both associations will now honor the membership status of the other organization when registering for events and programs. ************************************************************************************ USDA Purchasing Oversupplied Commodities for Food Assistance Programs The Department of Agriculture will purchase up to $159.4 million in domestically produced seafood, fruits, legumes, and nuts for distribution to a variety of domestic food assistance programs. The purchases, announced Thursday, are being made with funds under the authority of Section 32 of the Agricultural Adjustment Act. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says, “These healthy, nutritious food purchases will benefit food banks and non-profits helping those struggling with food hardship.” The inventories of the included commodities are in high oversupply due to a decrease in demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic and disruption in the supply chain, as restaurants and other outlets closed during the pandemic. Within a few days of approval, USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service will offer these commodities to their networks. Orders should be received during the first week of June with solicitations being issued mid-June and awards occurring near the end of the month. Deliveries should start to occur by mid-August. ************************************************************************************ Memphis Meats Rebrands as UPSIDE Foods, Plans Cultured Chicken Production Cultured meat company Memphis Meats announced this week a rebranding to UPSIDE Foods. The move comes as the company prepares to produce its first consumer product, cultured chicken. Uma Valeti, CEO and founder of UPSIDE Foods, says, "the evolution to UPSIDE Foods communicates our passion and potential to make our favorite foods healthier for the planet." The company released the world's first cultured meatball in February 2016 and the world's first cultured poultry in March 2017. Cultured chicken products will be available to consumers later this year, pending regulatory review. Grown from animal cells, the UPSIDE chicken cultivated without the need to raise an animal, and is not a plant-based meat alternative. To create the products at scale, UPSIDE Foods has broken ground on a pilot plant in the San Francisco Bay Area. The first custom-built for meat cultivation, the end-to-end facility will produce, package and ship cultured meat all under one roof.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 14, 2021 |


Washington Insider: Hope for an Infrastructure Deal Republican senators emerged from a meeting with President Joe Biden expressing some optimism on the prospects there could be a bipartisan deal on infrastructure. Republicans have resisted Biden's plan for $2.25 trillion for "infrastructure," arguing the package proposed by the White House is not just limited to infrastructure. Sen. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., has emerged as the "point person" on the matter for Republicans having publicly called for Biden to listen to Republicans on the situation even when members of his own party are urging the president to go it alone and let the party use the budget reconciliation tool to get it done. Under budget reconciliation, it removes the requirement a package get 60 votes in the Senate in order to pass. Given the 50-50 margin in the chamber, it is an understandable push. A bipartisan counter-offer to Biden of $568 billion in infrastructure spending -- a package compiled by not just Republicans -- was rejected out of hand by most Democrats. But Biden agreed to meet with the lawmakers to see if and what kind of a deal could be reached with Republicans. And he has done so with some in his party warning they won't sit by and let Republicans negotiate and negotiate on the topic. Some Democrats believe Republicans would deploy that tactic only in the end to say no deal could be had. But Republicans were not disheartened after their session with Biden at the White House. "We think this infrastructure package can carry forward," Capito said. "The president has asked us to come back and re-work an offer so that he can then react to that, and then re-offer to us." Biden himself was positive coming out of the session. "We had a very, very good meeting," he told reporters in the Rose Garden, according to Bloomberg. "It was great to be back with so many of the colleagues that I had served with in the Senate. And I am very optimistic that we can reach a reasonable agreement. But even if we don't, it's been a good faith effort that we started." But the road ahead remains a rocky one potentially, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., emerging from a Wednesday session with Biden as saying the GOP has a "red line" on the Biden proposal to use an increase in corporate taxes as one of the ways to pay for the infrastructure deal. Even moderate Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., has expressed resistance to the 28% corporate tax rate proposed by Biden. Manchin has favored a tax rate no higher than 25% on companies and Biden recently said he was open to a discussion on that tax level. And there are signs, Bloomberg said, that Biden may be willing to break the package up. "There are increasing signs the bill would be split up if a bipartisan agreement on some infrastructure measures did emerge," Bloomberg said. "That would leave Biden to try to advance some or all of the rest of his proposal without Republican support." But what appears more and more likely is that to get bipartisan support for an infrastructure plan, there may need to be a refocusing of the effort on the traditional definition of infrastructure -- roads, bridges, railroads, locks and dams and the like. The crack that appeared in one of the supports on a key bridge on I-40 that crosses the Mississippi River could become a factor in the debate. While the bridge has been closed indefinitely, it means there will be automobile and truck traffic that get diverted to other routes to cross the river. But the other key is that the Mississippi River has also been closed to barge traffic, right at a time when U.S. ag products are being moved to export locations. So we will see. Infrastructure has long had an air of bipartisanship to it. And there are signs that could be the case this time around. Given the importance for agriculture of infrastructure to get their products to market and export channels, this situation needs to be watched closely, Washington Insider believes.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 14, 2021 |


USTR Tai Provides Some Additional Insight On Biden Trade Plans U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai spent much of her appearance this week before the Senate Finance Committee defending and explaining the administration's newly adopted position of backing a waiver of intellectual property (IP) rules at the WTO relative to COVID vaccines. Republican lawmakers took the greatest exception to the shift, warning of what they viewed as an action to turn over U.S. IP to foreign countries, including Russia and China. While Tai did not specifically address the concerns relative to China and Russia, she continued to frame their administration's stance as one of wanting to expand COVID vaccines and save lives. Ag trade issues did not get a lot of focus in the session and even China was not a major attention point for lawmaker questions. More attention was put on issues with Mexico and Canada, ones that Tai pledged would be raised next week at a meeting of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Free Trade Commission. Those include Mexico's announced ban on glyphosate, GMO corn and softwood lumber and dairy issues with Canada. On China, Tai reiterated that the U.S. is continuing to approach the situation by engaging allies and she also referenced the top-to-bottom review of U.S. trade policies with China. Tai still has not shed a great deal of light on the Biden administration's trade focus, including on a U.S.-UK trade deal. She did acknowledge there are still "very critical issue areas" that are open in those negotiations, and there is "quite a road to go there." That suggests there is not yet a focus on pushing those negotiations forward as she related she is still wanting to think through how to construct such a trade accord.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 14, 2021 |


EPA Plans Public Hearings On WOTUS This Summer, Fall EPA will conduct public information gathering sessions this summer and fall relative to its plans to revisit the navigable waters rule, Radhika Fox told lawmakers during her confirmation hearing to be Radhika Fox's confirmation hearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to be the assistant administrator for the EPA's Office of Water. She said EPA will seek to learn from the "wisdom, the voice, and the lived, practical experience of people in complying with our rules." That echoes remarks from EPA Administrator Michael Regan who said the agency was seeking to revisit the issue and he also has pledged EPA will not keep the Trump version of the rule in place nor will they return completely to the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule. "Administrator [Michael] Regan and I want an enduring definition of waters of the U.S., one that can withstand administration changes," she added. The WOTUS rule was a flashpoint for many in U.S. agriculture and fed the Trump replacement of the rule. Ag interests will be following the process closely to make sure that a return to the Obama-era rule does not unfold.

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 14, 2021 |


Friday Watch List Markets A report on U.S. retail sales for April is due out at 7:30 a.m. CDT Friday, followed by the Federal Reserve's report on April industrial production at 8:15 a.m. The University of Michigan's consumer sentiment survey for April is set for 9 a.m. Traders will keep close watch on the latest weather forecasts. Friday is also the final day of trading for May grain futures. Weather Light rain showers are in store for portions of the western Midwest Friday. The rain area expands into the central and southern Plains later Friday. Areas with rain will have useful crop moisture. Drought areas of the northern and far southwestern Plains along with the Northwest and Canadian Prairies have very little rain indicated.

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 13, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 12, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 11, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 10, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday May 7, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday May 6, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday May 5, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday May 4, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday May 3, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 30, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 29, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 28, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 27, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 26, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Friday April 23, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Thursday April 22, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Wednesday April 21, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Tuesday April 20, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


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

| Rural Advocate News | Monday April 19, 2021 |


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