Friday, July 26, 2019

Thursday July 25 Ag News

USDA Plans Full-Function FAD Exercise in September

In an ongoing effort to prepare the pork industry for a potential foreign animal disease (FAD), the USDA is working on a full-function exercise on foreign animal disease (FAD) that will be conducted the week of September 23. The exercise will focus on a fictional outbreak of African swine fever and the subsequent response by federal and state authorities along with the rest of the pork industry.

The overall purpose of this exercise is to better prepare the U.S. pork industry and its stakeholders in the event of an actual FAD outbreak. Per the USDA’s Veterinary Services overview, this functional exercise will focus on exercising plans, policies, procedures, and staff members involved in management, direction, command, and control functions.

During the exercise, participants will validate and evaluate capabilities, multiple functions/sub-functions, or interdependent groups of functions; they will also respond to an exercise scenario with event updates in a realistic, real-time environment. In addition, participants will assess the adequacy of response plans and resources. The exercise simulates deployment of resources and personnel, involves rapid problem solving, creates a highly stressful environment and involves multiple functions.

“Everything in this type of exercise is done for a reason,” says Dave Pyburn, DVM, senior vice president of the National Pork Board’s science and technology department. “We’re trying to create a realistic scenario of a confirmed foreign animal disease in this country to see how each stakeholder reacts and to find the gaps that need more work. It’s about finding ways to improve to help protection our nation’s swine herd.”

Iowa to Hold Multiple FAD Workshops

Over the next few weeks, the Iowa Pork Industry Center and Iowa State University extension swine specialists will offer five workshops to help producers understand state and federal responses to a foreign animal disease (FAD) outbreak and learn how to use Secure Pork Supply (SPS) resources to prepare for an FAD outbreak.

The single-day workshops (in-person or online) will start with FAD Prep 101. Topics will include national movement standstill, quarantine and control areas, mass depopulations and disposal options. It will also answer the big question of how SPS can help your business continue during an FAD outbreak. Part two of the workshop is FAD Prep 201. It will cover the resources in the SPS plan and how to apply it to your individual farm.

Workshops are scheduled for:
July 29, Le Mars, IA
July 30, Independence, IA
August 6, Garner, IA
August 7, Washington, IA
August 13, Marshalltown, IA

All workshops include FAD Prep 101 from 10:00 a.m. to noon and FAD Prep 201 from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Complete this online form to sign up for any of the following workshops.   There is no charge to attend.

Major Grain Expansion at NEW COOP - Glidden Location

The Board of Directors and Management of NEW Cooperative are pleased to announce the expansion of the Glidden Location. The major expansion will include a new 500,000-bushel grain storage to be completed before fall of 2019.

This addition will certainly be a dramatic improvement for producers delivering into the Glidden location. The desired outcome is to simply get our farmers in and out of the facility and back to the field faster. This expansion will allow Glidden to handle a larger inflow of product expected in the coming years.


The Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board (CBB) has launched a newly redesigned and updated website at that will make it easier for cattle producers to quickly find information about the national Beef Checkoff program.

“One of our primary goals is to better communicate with producers so that they know exactly how their checkoff dollars are being spent,” said Greg Hanes, CEO of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board. “By updating our website, we’re  continuing our mission of clear communication that will help producers become more aware of how the checkoff is positively influencing beef demand.”

The website now features revised navigation and a blog-like structure that makes it easier for visitors to quickly find content and information that’s relevant to their unique needs and interests. Key information – including frequently asked questions (FAQs), the Beef Industry Long Range Plan and an explanation of how checkoff money is invested – is readily available on the website’s home page.

In 2018, the CBB launched The Drive, a complimentary producer newsletter that contains the latest industry facts, statistics and stories highlighting the many ways checkoff dollars are driving demand for beef worldwide. Articles, infographics and other content from current issues of The Drive’s print and email editions are featured prominently on the updated website, keeping it fresh and encouraging repeat visits. Website visitors may also sign up for a complimentary subscription to The Drive.

“We’ve received extremely positive feedback about The Drive since introducing it last year,” Hanes said. “Now, by making The Drive’s content available on the new website, we’re providing producers with the opportunity to get checkoff information online as well as in print or via email.”

For more information about the Beef Checkoff and its programs, including promotion, research, foreign marketing, industry information, consumer information and safety, contact the Cattlemen’s Beef Board at 303-220-9890 or visit the new website at

RFA, Hauk Designs to Showcase Ethanol Benefits with E85 Flex-Fuel Off-Road Project

The Renewable Fuels Association and the legendary Kenny Hauk of Hauk Designs are collaborating on a project that highlights the many benefits of using ethanol fuel blends in high-performance off-road vehicles. Fans can watch the Hauk team design and build an RFA flex-fuel Jeep Wrangler JL in a special “Hauk Machines” Amazon Prime video series airing soon. But first, the series kicks off exclusively on RFA’s Facebook page the week of August 12.

A special preview video debuts on RFA’s Facebook page and Instagram account this week as part of a larger social media campaign around this project that will continue for 14 weeks. This and other video content (mini-episodes) from this social media program will be used afterward on Amazon Prime as part of the much more comprehensive “Hauk Machines” second season.

During this season of “Hauk Machines,” Kenny Hauk and his crew are building two one-of-a-kind vehicles for the popular annual SEMA Show that will take place in November in Las Vegas, including the special Wrangler for RFA.

"Our goal was to build the most powerful JL Wrangler ever built that not only functions on road and off, but looks good while doing it,” Hauk said. “We have found E85 to be an outstanding fuel option that gives us the power and performance we have been looking for in an economical package.”

The project is part of RFA’s ongoing work to stimulate positive discussions about ethanol and engage with groups who have historically expressed reservations about the use of higher ethanol blends. The SEMA Show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world; last year’s show drew more than 70,000 domestic and international buyers.

Another element in this work, for example, is RFA’s ongoing support for the Crappie Masters Tournament Trail professional fishing series, to spotlight the safety and efficiency of ethanol in boating.

“These projects are all about educating different consumer groups in a fun and innovative way,” said RFA Vice President for Industry Relations Robert White. “At RFA, we want to push the boundaries to show the potential of ethanol as a fuel for a wide variety of vehicles and demographics, especially when special interests tell us it can’t be done. Ethanol is a high-powered fuel that is perfectly suited for off-roading. It also helps keep our air and water clean, something important to off-road enthusiasts and conservationists. Kenny Hauk is the perfect person to help us tell this story and educate off-roaders globally.”

In a similar project last year, RFA worked with motorcycle designer Paul Teutul Jr., one of the stars of the reality television series “American Chopper” on the Discovery Channel. A 2018 collaboration between RFA and Teutul led to an E85 motorcycle that was featured on “American Chopper” in a project to show that ethanol works well in motorcycles—even up to 85% ethanol when appropriate adjustments are made. That bike has been used to promote ethanol at numerous events and will be once again in the spotlight this summer at the world-famous Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, where RFA has had a presence for more than a decade.

Record High Red Meat and Pork Production in June

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 4.37 billion pounds in June, up 1 percent from the 4.33 billion pounds produced in June 2018.

By State                (mil. lbs.  -  % June '18)

Nebraska ........:       671.4            100      
Iowa ...............:       668.3            116      
Kansas ............:       489.9             95      

Beef production, at 2.22 billion pounds, was 3 percent below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.80 million head, down 3 percent from June 2018. The average live weight was down 8 pounds from the previous year, at 1,313 pounds.

Veal production totaled 5.7 million pounds, 2 percent below June a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 44,400 head, down 2 percent from June 2018. The average live weight was unchanged from last year, at 223 pounds.

Pork production totaled 2.13 billion pounds, up 6 percent from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 9.99 million head, up 4 percent from June 2018. The average live weight was up 5 pounds from the previous year, at 285 pounds.

Lamb and mutton production, at 11.4 million pounds, was down 8 percent from June 2018. Sheep slaughter totaled 175,300 head, 3 percent below last year. The average live weight was 130 pounds, down 7 pounds from June a year ago.

January to June 2019 commercial red meat production was 26.8 billion pounds, up 2 percent from 2018. Accumulated beef production was up slightly from last year, veal was down 1 percent, pork was up 4 percent from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 1 percent.

Hard Red Spring Wheat Average Yield Pegged at 43.1 BPA

The 2019 Wheat Quality Council's Hard Red Spring Wheat and Durum Tour ended Thursday with an overall average spring wheat yield of 43.1 bushels per acre (bpa), up from 41.1 bpa last year, but still below the five-year average of 44.6 bpa.

This year, the tour's 62 crop scouts stopped at 356 spring wheat fields around North Dakota, compared to 325 fields last year. The tour also scouted 15 durum wheat fields, and found an average yield of 32 bpa, down from 17 fields averaging 39.3 bpa last year and a five-year average of 40 bpa.

Scouts reported that harvest is about three weeks out, with most fields in the late flowering stage. However, some scouts noted that fields north of Highway 66 in the Crystal, North Dakota, region may be ready for harvest in just two weeks. Farmers in that area planted in late April, and scouts reported that yield potential there ranged from a high of 52.8 to a low of 32.7 bushels per acre.

This tour brought together people from across the wheat industry, including millers, bakers, grain marketers, traders and wheat industry groups from throughout the United States and internationally.

USDA Announces Details of Support Package for Farmers

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced further details of the $16 billion package aimed at supporting American agricultural producers while the Administration continues to work on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals.

In May, President Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a relief strategy in line with the estimated impacts of unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods and other trade disruptions. The Market Facilitation Program (MFP), Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP), and Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP) will assist agricultural producers while President Trump works to address long-standing market access barriers.

“China and other nations have not played by the rules for a long time, and President Trump is the first President to stand up to them and send a clear message that the United States will no longer tolerate unfair trade practices,” Secretary Perdue said. “The details we announced today ensure farmers will not stand alone in facing unjustified retaliatory tariffs while President Trump continues working to solidify better and stronger trade deals around the globe.

“Our team at USDA reflected on what worked well and gathered feedback on last year’s program to make this one even stronger and more effective for farmers. Our farmers work hard, are the most productive in the world, and we aim to match their enthusiasm and patriotism as we support them,” Secretary Perdue added.

American farmers have dealt with unjustified retaliatory tariffs and decades of non-tariff trade disruptions, which have curtailed U.S. exports to China and other nations. Trade damages from such retaliation and market distortions have impacted a host of U.S. commodities. High tariffs disrupt normal marketing patterns, raising costs by forcing commodities to find new markets. Additionally, American goods shipped to China have been slowed from reaching market by unusually strict or cumbersome entry procedures, which affect the quality and marketability of perishable crops. These boost marketing costs and unfairly affect our producers. USDA is using a variety of programs to support American farmers, ranchers, and producers.
Details of USDA’s Market Facilitation Program (MFP)

MFP signup at local FSA offices will run from Monday, July 29 through Friday, December 6, 2019.

Payments will be made by the Farm Service Agency (FSA) under the authority of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) Charter Act to producers of alfalfa hay, barley, canola, corn, crambe, dried beans, dry peas, extra-long staple cotton, flaxseed, lentils, long grain and medium grain rice, millet, mustard seed, oats, peanuts, rapeseed, rye, safflower, sesame seed, small and large chickpeas, sorghum, soybeans, sunflower seed, temperate japonica rice, triticale, upland cotton, and wheat. MFP assistance for those non-specialty crops is based on a single county payment rate multiplied by a farm’s total plantings of MFP-eligible crops in aggregate in 2019. Those per-acre payments are not dependent on which of those crops are planted in 2019. A producer’s total payment-eligible plantings cannot exceed total 2018 plantings. County payment rates range from $15 to $150 per acre, depending on the impact of unjustified trade retaliation in that county.

Dairy producers who were in business as of June 1, 2019, will receive a per hundredweight payment on production history, and hog producers will receive a payment based on the number of live hogs owned on a day selected by the producer between April 1 and May 15, 2019.
MFP payments will also be made to producers of almonds, cranberries, cultivated ginseng, fresh grapes, fresh sweet cherries, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts. Each specialty crop will receive a payment based on 2019 acres of fruit or nut bearing plants, or in the case of ginseng, based on harvested acres in 2019.

Acreage of non-specialty crops and cover crops must be planted by August 1, 2019 to be considered eligible for MFP payments.

The MFP rule and a related Notice of Funding Availability will be published in the Federal Register on July 29, 2019, when signup begins at local FSA offices. Per-acre non-specialty crop county payment rates, specialty crop payment rates, and livestock payment rates are all currently available on

MFP payments will be made in up-to three tranches, with the second and third tranches evaluated as market conditions and trade opportunities dictate. If conditions warrant, the second and third tranches will be made in November and early January, respectively. The first tranche will be comprised of the higher of either 50 percent of a producer’s calculated payment or $15 per acre, which may reduce potential payments to be made in tranches two or three. USDA will begin making first tranche payments in mid-to-late August.

MFP payments are limited to a combined $250,000 for non-specialty crops per person or legal entity. MFP payments are also limited to a combined $250,000 for dairy and hog producers and a combined $250,000 for specialty crop producers. However, no applicant can receive more than $500,000. Eligible applicants must also have an average adjusted gross income (AGI) for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016 of less than $900,000 or, 75 percent of the person’s or legal entity’s average AGI for tax years 2014, 2015, and 2016 must have been derived from farming and ranching. Applicants must also comply with the provisions of the Highly Erodible Land and Wetland Conservation regulations.

Many producers were affected by natural disasters this spring, such as flooding, that kept them out of the field for extended periods of time. Producers who filed a prevented planting claim and planted an FSA-certified cover crop, with the potential to be harvested qualify for a $15 per acre payment. Acres that were never planted in 2019 are not eligible for an MFP payment.

In June, H.R. 2157, the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Act of 2019 was signed into law by President Trump, requiring a change to the first round of MFP assistance provided in 2018. Producers previously deemed ineligible for MFP in 2018 because they had an average AGI level higher than $900,000 may now be eligible for 2018 MFP benefits. Those producers must be able to verify 75 percent or more of their average AGI was derived from farming and ranching to qualify. This supplemental MFP signup period will run parallel to the 2019 MFP signup, from July 29 through December 6, 2019.

For more information on the MFP, visit or contact your local FSA office, which can be found at

Details of USDA’s Food Purchase and Distribution Program (FPDP)

Additionally, CCC Charter Act authority will be used to implement an up to $1.4 billion FPDP through the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) to purchase surplus commodities affected by trade retaliation such as fruits, vegetables, some processed foods, beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and milk for distribution by the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to food banks, schools, and other outlets serving low-income individuals.


AMS will buy affected products in four phases, starting after October 1, 2019 with deliveries beginning in January 2020. The products purchased can be adjusted between phases to accommodate changes due to: growing conditions; product availability; market conditions; trade negotiation status; and program capacity. AMS will purchase known commodities first. By purchasing in phases, procurements for commodities that have been sourced in the past can be purchased more quickly and included in the first phase.
Vendor Outreach:

To expand the AMS vendor pool and the ability to purchase new and existing products, AMS will ramp up its vendor outreach and registration efforts. AMS has also developed flyers on how the process works and how to become a vendor for distribution to industry groups and interested parties. Additionally, AMS will continue to host a series of free webinars describing the steps required to become a vendor. Stakeholders will have the opportunity to submit questions to be answered during the webinar. Recorded webinars are available to review by potential vendors, and staff will host periodic Question and Answer teleconferences to better explain the process.
Product Specifications:

AMS maintains purchase specifications for a variety of commodities, which ensure recipients receive the high-quality product they expect. AMS in collaboration with FNS regularly develops and revises specifications for new and enhanced products based on program requirements and requests. AMS will be prioritizing the development of those products impacted by unjustified retaliation. AMS will also work with industry groups to identify varieties and grades sold to China and other markets imposing retaliatory tariffs, such as premium apples, oranges, pears, and other products. AMS will develop or revise specifications to facilitate the purchase of these premium varieties in forms that meet the needs of FNS nutrition assistance programs.

The products discussed in this plan will be distributed to States for use in the network of food banks and food pantries that participate in The Emergency Feeding Assistance Program (TEFAP), elderly feeding programs such as the Commodity Supplemental Foods Program (CSFP), and tribes that operate the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR).

These outlets are in addition to child nutrition programs such as the National School Lunch Program, which may also benefit from these purchases.

Additionally, the rule provides flexibility for FNS to explore new channels of non-profit distribution of product, should the availability of distribution through traditional channels prove to be insufficient. FNS will offer products through traditional channels prior to consideration of new outlets.

AMS has coordinated with FNS, industry representatives, and other agency partners to determine necessary logistics for the purchase and distribution of each commodity, including trucking, inspection and audit requirements, and agency staffing.
Details of USDA’s Agricultural Trade Promotion Program (ATP)

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) will administer the ATP under authorities of the CCC. The ATP will provide cost-share assistance to eligible U.S. organizations for activities such as consumer advertising, public relations, point-of-sale demonstrations, participation in trade fairs and exhibits, market research, and technical assistance. Last week, USDA awarded $100 million to 48 organizations through the ATP to help U.S. farmers and ranchers identify and access new export markets.

The 48 recipients are among the cooperator organizations that applied for $200 million in ATP funds in 2018 that were awarded earlier this year. As part of a new round of support for farmers impacted by unjustified retaliation and trade disruption, those groups had the opportunity to be considered for additional support for their work to boost exports for U.S. agriculture, food, fish, and forestry products.

Already, since the $200 million in assistance was announced in January, U.S. exporters have had significant success, including a trade mission to Pakistan that generated $10 million in projected 2019 sales of pulse crops, a new marketing program for Alaska seafood that led to more than $4 million in sales of salmon to Vietnam and Thailand, and a comprehensive marketing effort by the U.S. soybean industry that has increased exposure in more than 50 international markets. These funds will continue to generate sales and business for U.S. producers and exporters many times over as promotional activity continues for the next couple of years.

NCGA Welcomes Progress on MFP, Looks Forward to Improved Program

National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) President Lynn Chrisp today made the following statement on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) release of county payment rates for the Market Facilitation Program (MFP).

“It’s no secret that farmers are facing difficult decisions amid wet spring weather, trade disputes and tariffs, and demand destruction in the ethanol market. While NCGA’s focus remains markets, we welcome USDA’s quick rollout of MFP 2.0 and the Department’s creative efforts to reorient MFP to better reflect market impacts and support American farmers. We look forward to learning more about how MFP will work for corn farmers.” 

Following President Trump’s announcement that the Administration would be pursuing a second round of trade aid, NCGA put forward recommendations that would provide both short-term assistance and support market access for farmers. NCGA continues to encourage the Administration to take additional actions to open markets and provide more certainty to corn farmers, including stopping RFS waivers to big oil refiners and restoring waived ethanol gallons and resolving trade disputes and tariffs.

Soy Growers Appreciate Efforts to Offset Ongoing Tariff Damages Administration Shares MFP Payment Details

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released details this morning of the 2019 Market Facilitation Program (MFP) payments announced by the Administration in May. MPF will provide up to $14.5 billion to producers, including soybean farmers, in up to three tranches starting with a first round of payments this August.

Payment rates vary by county from $15 to $150 per acre based on USDA’s calculated damages from tariffs in each individual county affected – most in the $50 to $75 range per acre, according to USDA. That single-county rate will be multiplied by a farm’s total planted acreage for all MFP-eligible crops in aggregate for 2019, not to exceed total 2018 plantings.

Davie Stephens, president of the American Soybean Association (ASA) and soybean grower from Clinton, Kentucky, said, “The county rate for farmers in areas with a higher percentage of crops suffering from negative trade impacts will receive a higher offset for the damages we have seen because of the tariffs. We appreciate the Administration’s effort to determine how the payments will work and hope our soybean growers—no matter where their farms are and what is planted there—feel some relief from this assistance.”

ASA is glad that the Administration continues to recognize the ongoing struggle of soybean farmers caught in the middle of the trade war with China. Soybean growers were also pleased with the Agricultural Trade Promotion (ATP) funding announced by USDA last Friday, as those funds granted to the soybean industry will support new market development. Yet, ASA continues to ask for a quick and positive resolution to the current tariff on U.S. beans going to China that has disrupted the market.

Sign-up for farmers with eligible crops begins Monday, July 29, with those who are first to sign up expected to receive an initial payment equal to 50% of what they are eligible for in mid to late August. Second and third payments, each equal to 25% of the total qualifying payment, are slated for November 2019 and January 2020 contingent upon market conditions and trade opportunities. Producers can continue to sign up through December 6, 2019.

Farmers who earn 75% or more of their income from agriculture will be eligible for up to the $250,000 MFP payment limit and retroactively eligible for up to the $125,000 payment limit for the 2018 program. MFP payments are limited to a combined $250,000 for non-specialty crops per person or legal entity and a combined $250,000 for hog or dairy farmers per person or legal entity; No applicant can receive more than $500,000 total.

NAWG Responds to USDA's Announcement on Another Round of MFP Payments for Farmers

On July 25, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced details of its latest $16 billion in aid to offset trade damages, including another round of market facilitation program (MFP) payments of $14.5 billion for farmers who are being impacted by the current trade war with China. Payment rates are set at a county level rather than commodity rate.

“NAWG appreciates the Administration recognizing the impact the current trade war with China is having on farmers,” stated NAWG President and Lavon, TX farmer Ben Scholz. “The MFP payments will provide necessary assistance to growers impacted by low prices resulting in part from tariffs.  However, this is a band-aid when we really need a long-term fix. NAWG understands holding China accountable for its WTO violations and unfair trade practices but a trade war is not the solution especially when farmers are the casualties.”

Prior to the release of details of MFP, NAWG sent a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue outlining concerns to be addressed in a final program. Additionally, NAWG met with the Office of Management of Budget (OMB) and USDA officials to discuss its concerns including those raised around ensuring fall 2018-seeded winter wheat would be eligible, fallow rotations, and new and beginning farmers. Specifically, NAWG asked that growers not be penalized by the limit of 2018 harvested acres since the MFP proposal uses a farmer’s 2019 planted acres capped at their 2018 harvested acres.  

“We continue to urge the Administration to quickly resolve the ongoing trade dispute with China and to negotiate new trade agreements, and Congress to act quickly on USMCA.”

NPPC Statement on Trade Aid II

The U.S. Department of Agriculture today announced details of its second program providing trade retaliation relief to American farmers. Eligible U.S. pork producers will receive $11 per head based on inventory between April 1-May 15, 2019. The USDA also announced it will make pork purchases of $208 million to support its programs for the food insecure. National Pork Producers Council President David Herring, a producer from Lillington, N.C., issued the following statement:

"U.S. pork producers are highly dependent on export markets, shipping more than 25 percent of production to foreign markets. We are grateful to the Trump administration for providing partial relief as hog farmers have incurred significant losses due to trade disputes that have lingered for more than a year.

"U.S. pork is the most affordable, highest quality and safest in the world and our top objective remains the same: We seek the chance to compete on a level playing field in markets around the globe. Our top priorities are an end to the trade dispute with China, where retaliatory tariffs are preventing U.S. pork from fully capitalizing on a historic sales opportunity created by the outbreak of African swine fever in the world's largest pork-consuming nation, and a trade agreement with Japan, where U.S. pork is losing market share due to trade agreements Japan has recently formed with the EU and other international competitors."

USDA's second trade retaliation relief package is valued at $16 billion, with $14.5 billion dedicated to producer payments, $1.4 billion for commodity purchases and $100 million through its Agricultural Trade Promotion Program to help U.S. farmers and ranchers identify and access new export markets. Sign up for the program begins Monday, July 29 and ends Dec. 6, 2019. For more information, visit:

NMPF Statement on USDA Trade-Mitigation Aid Announcement

In response to the USDA’s outline of its planned trade-mitigation assistance to farmers, NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern offered the following statement:

“We appreciate the efforts of USDA and the White House to assist farmers who have suffered significant losses due to retaliatory tariffs. Dairy producers have so far lost more than $2.3 billion in revenues since tariff escalation began in earnest one year ago. USDA’s new approach raises the level of aid to dairy farmers from last year’s program, a step in the right direction. We also urge the Department to revise the outdated production history information used to calculate payments, which lessens the effectiveness of the program.

“Today’s announcement underscores that dairy farmers need to rely on trade, not aid, to prosper in a global marketplace. We will continue to work with USDA to help dairy farmers expand exports and increase consumption of dairy products through nutrition programs. Resolving the current trade impasse with China and aggressively expanding ties with other trading partners also is essential to make these aid packages unnecessary. We are also working with the administration and Congress to pass USMCA, which would immediately create new opportunities for U.S. dairy.”


Farm Bureau Welcomes Trade Assistance, Urges Return to Open Markets

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall

“We greatly appreciate President Trump’s concern for America’s farmers and ranchers in these difficult economic times, and we are grateful for this continued trade assistance to help our farmers and ranchers stay in business and continue feeding our nation. We look forward to reviewing the details of this new $16 billion aid package and its specific impact on each sector of agriculture. 

“These are difficult times for agriculture, and the longer these trade wars continue, the deeper the impact on farm country. Farmers are being hit with tariffs on top of already-challenging economic conditions from severe weather events, low commodity prices, lack of available labor and a host of other impacts. It’s the perfect storm for agriculture, and these continuing trade wars are adding to the increasing financial burden on our farmers and ranchers.

“While we are grateful for the continuing support for American agriculture from President Trump and Secretary Perdue, America’s farmers ultimately want trade more than aid. It is critically important to restore agricultural markets and mutually beneficial relationships with our trading partners around the world.

“We are hopeful that trade negotiations with China will quickly lead to a resolution of trade disputes and that the administration will make important progress in negotiations with Japan and the European Union. At the moment, all eyes are on winning congressional approval for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.”

USDA Releases Details for Market Facilitation Program

Two months after announcing its intentions to provide a new package to assist family farmers and ranchers coping with trade damages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today released finalized details about the timing and calculation of direct payments to producers through the Market Facilitation Program (MFP). The agency has earmarked up to $14.5 billion for the program to be distributed in three separate tranches. Eligible producers can submit applications for the first tranche beginning next Monday, July 29, through December 6, 2019, and payments will be sent out starting in mid- to late August.

Most commodity grain producers will be compensated based on a single county rate ranging from $15 to $150 per planted acre. For the first round of payments, they will receive a minimum of $15 per acre and up to 50% of the county rate. In contrast, dairy producers will receive 20 cents per hundredweight based on historical production. Additional relief for hog and specialty crop producers will be available as well.

Given the significant difficulties that ongoing trade uncertainty has caused, National Farmers Union (NFU) is relieved that farmers will be receiving much-needed assistance. NFU President Roger Johnson released the following statement in response to USDA’s announcement:

“Long before this trade war even started, family farmers and ranchers were struggling to make ends meet. Chronic oversupply and slumping commodity prices have beleaguered the agricultural economy for six consecutive years, putting most operations in the red. But the unstable markets and rapidly fluctuating prices caused by this administration’s trade policies has made matters even worse. Many farmers didn’t even know what to plant this last spring because they couldn’t begin to anticipate what might be profitable come harvest.

“National Farmers Union appreciates the USDA’s ongoing efforts to support family farmers during this difficult time. However, we harbor some concerns about disparities in payments from county to county, which could put some farmers at a financial disadvantage. Additionally, we are disappointed that the plan does not include incentives to reduce production, which could help alleviate the chronic challenges of excess supply and depressed prices.

“This assistance is desperately needed, but the ad-hoc rollout and convoluted structure of these programs has caused significant confusion among producers. Until more predictable, longer-term solutions are made available, that sense of confusion and insecurity will likely persist. In the future, we urge the administration to work more closely with Congress to build on the existing safety net and provide certainty and stability in farm country.”

ACE calls on EPA to rely on the GREET model as it considers future RFS volumes

American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) CEO Brian Jennings highlighted the important role corn ethanol could have in further reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if properly valued under the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) in a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler today, informing the agency of a recently published meta-analysis showing that corn stover retention results in significant soil carbon sequestration, and if taken into account by lifecycle modeling, reduces the GHG footprint of corn ethanol far below EPA’s current estimate.

This data, published in a recent study titled “A global meta-analysis of soil organic carbon response to corn stover removal,” goes on to say changes in soil carbon stocks can alter lifecycle GHG emissions for corn-based ethanol.

“EPA relies upon lifecycle accounting to quantify GHG emissions under the RFS, however, your model is nearly a decade old and fails to include the continuing advancements in this science documented by the Argonne National Laboratory and the data represented in the meta-analysis,” Jennings writes. “EPA’s antiquated analysis is an impediment to more low carbon biofuel use hurting both rural communities and the environment.”

“As you work on the proposed rule to “reset” RFS volumes for 2021 and 2022, ACE urges you to take this timely meta-analysis into consideration to foster more ethanol blending,” the letter continues. “Specifically, we encourage EPA to use the “reset” as an opportunity to increase undifferentiated renewable fuel volume beyond 15 billion gallons for 2021 and 2022 by reallocating the 2.61 billion gallons waived so far through so-called “hardship” exemptions for small refineries and restoring 500 million gallons to the 2016 RFS compliance year as ordered by the U.S. Court of Appeals.”

Additionally, the letter calls on EPA to adopt the latest Greenhouse gas and Regulated Emissions and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) model, developed by DoE’s Argonne National Lab nearly three decades ago, as is also recommended in ACE’s white paper “The Case for Properly Valuing the Low Carbon Benefits of Corn Ethanol.” “Unlike Argonne’s GREET model, EPA’s lifecycle model has not been updated since your original (2010) corn ethanol assessment,” the letter states. “Today the GREET model shows corn ethanol has nearly 50 percent lower GHG emissions than gasoline.”

Irish Swine To Dine On U.S. DDGS Thanks To USGC Engagement

An increase in inclusion rates of U.S. DDGS from zero to 15 percent by an Irish feed mill will add 75,000 metric tons in additional demand annually, valued at $17.2 million.

A leading feed mill in Ireland has upped its inclusion rate of U.S. dried distiller’s grains with solubles (DDGS) thanks to the U.S. Grains Council’s (USGC’s) work to promote the benefits of the feed ingredient in swine diets, adding 75,000 metric tons in additional demand annually, valued at $17.2 million.

Ireland is a consistent buyer of U.S. DDGS, purchasing just under 400,000 tons in 2018, valued at $91 million. Experienced buyers and end-users use U.S. DDGS to feed Ireland’s ruminants, including the large dairy and sheep industries. More recently, the Council has worked with Irish traders and end-users, educating them on the benefits of including more DDGS in swine diets.

To further these efforts, the Council engaged the Irish feed industry in March 2019 to assess the DDGS market and potential effects of Brexit. The Council discovered that while DDGS inclusion rates in ruminant animals were on par with U.S. standards, inclusion rates in monogastric (i.e. swine and poultry) diets lagged behind.

This assessment led to direct work with the swine industry to answer questions related to nutrition and encourage inclusion in rations. As a result, the large feed mill, which produces 500,000 tons of pig feed annually, decided to change its feed formula, increasing the DDGS inclusion rate from zero to 15 percent.

“As an industry leader, this feed mill’s influence is considerable, which could lead to increased inclusion rates by other mills - a domino effect quite common around the world,” said Reece Cannady, USGC manager of global trade. “As other feedmills switch, potential DDGS exports for commercial swine feed alone in Ireland could reach 200,000 tons, valued at $46 million, roughly a 50 percent increase over existing DDGS exports to the island.”

The Council will continue to work with the Irish swine feed industry to expand DDGS use, including conducting a feeding trial from August to September 2019 on a 1,000-head swine farm.

“The farm is owned by a group that sells raw materials to other producers,” Cannady said. “If they can convince home mixers to switch to DDGS, the Council could help facilitate another 100,000 tons of DDGS exports to Ireland.”

Pioneer Petitions APHIS to Deregulate GE Corn

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is inviting public comment on a petition from Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., seeking deregulation of a corn variety genetically engineered (GE) for enhanced yield potential and resistance to glufosinate-ammonium herbicide. The petition is available for public review and comment for 60 days.

APHIS is interested in receiving comments regarding potential environmental and interrelated economic impacts to assist in our assessment of the petition as it relates to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The public comments received, along with the best available scientific documents, will assist APHIS in determining the appropriate environmental documents to prepare in accordance with our petition process to make a fully informed decision on the regulatory status of this GE corn variety.

Members of the public can submit comments through Sept. 23.

For more information and to submit a public comment, please visit APHIS' Biotechnology Regulatory Services News and Information web page at .

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