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Farm News- 3/25/20

Implementation of China Agreement Continues

Implementation of the Phase One Agreement continues, according to the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative’s office. In a news release Tuesday, the two announced continued progress in the implementation of the agriculture-related provisions.  Among the recent actions, both countries signed a regionalization agreement that, in the event of a detection of highly pathogenic avian influenza or virulent Newcastle disease in a particular region of the United States, China will allow U.S. poultry exports from unaffected areas. China also notified the U.S. of proposed maximum residue levels for three hormones commonly used in U.S. beef production. U.S. beef producers, for the first time since 2003, will have access to nearly all beef products into China. U.S. pork producers will also be able to significantly expand the types of pork products shipped to China. China also updated its list of U.S. facilities eligible to export distillers dried grains with solubles, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a notice to facilitate the registration of animal feed manufacturing facilities for export to China.

Agriculture Groups Call on Lawmakers to Support Farmers

A group of agriculture organizations is calling on Congress to expand the Department of Agriculture’s borrowing authority under the Commodity Credit Corporation. The groups say Congress must act to ensure the CCC has the authority and funding to assist farmers and ranchers facing serious cash flow challenges during the coronavirus pandemic. The letter, addressed to both Senate and House leaders reads, “Farmers, ranchers and the supply chain that support them will not let Americans down during this unprecedented crisis, and they are asking the same of you.” The organizations say, “Millions of producers will need help with cash flow given the rapid and unanticipated decline in commodity prices, the likely closures of ethanol processing plants, the effective elimination of direct-to-consumer sales and decline in full-service restaurant and school meal demand.” Groups representing food, fuel and fiber signed on to the letter, including the American Farm Bureau Federation. The groups say Congress must ensure the CCC has ample authority and funding to help farmers and ranchers survive during this emergency.

NMPF Thanks USDA for Coronavirus Response, Outlines Dairy Needs

Dairy farmers welcome the response by the Department of Agriculture to the coronavirus crisis, but say more relief is needed. The National Milk Producers Federation sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue detailing the needs of dairy farmers during the crisis. NMPF President and CEO Jim Mulhern says in the letter, “The demand shock experienced by our entire economy is turning what initially looked to dairy farmers like the first decent year in the last five into one of potentially widespread economic devastation.” Dairy farmers expect to face price declines and unstable demand over the next several months, as joblessness rises, schools remain closed, and farm and dairy processing operations face unprecedented logistical challenges. In its letter, NMPF said it looks forward to working with the USDA in program implementation, trade facilitation and other areas, but said additional remedies will be needed. Those include additional dairy product purchases, compensation for milk disposal, and reopening of signup in the Dairy Margin Coverage program.

United Fresh Urges Congress to Take Immediate Action

Produce suppliers are looking for federal assistance, as many industry sectors seek relief from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The United Fresh Produce Association, representing the fresh produce supply chain, has requested urgent action by Congress to mitigate the challenges facing the sectors that have been impacted most severely. The immediate impact felt by the fresh produce supply chain is $5 billion for exposure for lost inventory and risk to growers, $1 billion a week in lost sales, and tens of thousands employee furloughed, according to the organization. Those recommendations include the establishment of a $1 billion fund, to address claims filed by foodservice distributors who have outstanding expenditures to grower-shippers. However, the group says the need may skyrocket to $5 billion. The group also requests USDA Immediately make an additional $1 billion available to help meet the needs of schools and all emergency feeding sites. Finally, they request the federal government provide $225 million funding for the Supplemental Nutrition for Women, Infants, and Children to accommodate a temporary increase to the cash-value voucher benefits.

TFI Urges Governors to List Industry as Critical

The Fertilizer Institute is urging state governors to follow federal guidelines and list the fertilizer industry as essential service and critical infrastructure. TFI says in a letter to governors, the declaration will “ensure that American agriculture can remain operable and continue to provide food security.” TFI represents fertilizer manufacturers, transporters, wholesalers, importers, brokers and retailers. The fertilizer industry supports nearly 500,000 American jobs and has an economic impact of over $130 billion annually. The letter says the next six to eight weeks will be crucial to its members and their farmer customers, as they conduct spring planting activities. TFI says the timely delivery of plant nutrients to American farmers is critical to their ability to produce food, fuel, and fiber. In order to get plant nutrients to the farm, the fertilizer industry relies on a safe and efficient transportation network, including rail carriers, ports, barges, pipelines, and trucks. In addition, the ability to move products across the borders of Canada and Mexico is also an important part of the fertilizer supply chain.

Fund Launched to Help Farmers Affected by the COVID-19 Crisis

American Farmland Trust Tuesday announced a fund to help farmers affected by the coronavirus crisis. Announced on National Ag Day, the fund will award eligible farmers with cash grants of up to $1,000 each to help them weather the current storm of market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The initial focus will be on farms that sell at farmers markets or to restaurants, caterers, schools, stores, or makers who use farm products. That focus could change over time as the negative impacts of the crisis become more widespread within U.S. agriculture. A new report estimates that local and regional food systems could lose up to $1.3 billion between just March and May of this year. While all farmers and ranchers will likely be seriously impacted by the market disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the organization says, “some farmers are losing their primary markets because people can’t eat in restaurants or shop at farmers markets.” The Farmer Relief Fund program details can be found at


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