USDA will issue $9.4 million in grants to provide enhanced training, outreach, and technical assistance to underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers. This funding is available through the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Programmanaged by the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. The program was created through the 1990 Farm Bill to help socially disadvantaged farmers, ranchers, and foresters, who have historically experienced limited access to USDA loans, grants, training, and technical assistance. Provisions were expanded in the 2014 Farm Bill to include outreach and technical assistance to military veterans.Grants are awarded to higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations to extend USDA’s engagement efforts in underserved communities. Since 2010, the 2501 Program has distributed more than $93 million to 398 partners.
The Bella Vita luxury condominium tower rises 20 stories over the boomtown of Luís Eduardo Magalhaes in northeastern Brazil. Its private movie theater and helipad are symbols of how far this dusty farming community has come since it was founded just 18 years ago. Local soybean producers shell out upward of a half-million U.S. dollars to live in the complex. Nearby farm equipment sellers, car dealerships and construction supply stores are bustling.Nearly 5,000 miles to the north in Boone, Iowa, farmers are hunkering down. At a recent agriculture trade show, Iowa corn and soybean grower Steve Sheppard reflected the cautious mood.“I’m not buying any machinery, I’m not spending any money,” Sheppard said.Two countries. Same business. Two different fates. The reason: China.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris has been named as a federal judge in West Tennessee, leaving his position open in the state senate. The U.S. Senate voted Thursday evening to confirm Norris in a close vote 51-44 vote.“I recommended Senator Norris to the president, and I strongly supported Mark’s nomination,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said in a statement. “He is respected by his peers around the country, having been elected chairman of the Council of State Governments, and has been an advocate and a champion for federalism and for the separation of powers.”
This weekend, anti-government activists will converge on Whitefish, Montana, for the “New Code of the West” conference — a symposium catering to Western conspiracy theorists and extremists. Speakers range from Ammon Bundy, leader of the 2016 Malheur National Wildlife Refuge occupation in Oregon, to state legislators Montana Rep. Kerry White and Washington Rep. Matt Shea. Also present will be Elaine Willman, a board member and former chair of the Citizens for Equal Rights Alliance (CERA), whose mission is “to change federal Indian policies that threaten or restrict the individual rights of all citizens living on or near Indian reservations.” The national group, with board members in Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Washington, has declared that treaties regarding land and water rights are no longer valid, advocated for state rights at the expense of tribal sovereignty, and repeatedly sown distrust between non-Natives and tribal governments on issues like taxation, voter fraud and land use. CERA, which calls tribal sovereignty a “myth,” works to undermine forms of self-determination — foundational issues for tribal nations that have borne the brunt of violent U.S. expansion for centuries.
The National Pork Producers Council submitted comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), supporting revisions to existing federal trucking regulations that would allow livestock haulers to comply with the rules while maintaining standards for animal welfare. Meanwhile, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and other representing bee and fish haulers submitted a petition to the DOT also requesting additional flexibility on Hours of Service requirements. The petition asks for a five-year exemption from certain requirements and encourages DOT to work with the livestock industry to implement additional fatigue-management practices.Current Hours of Service rules that restrict driving time for long-haul drivers often run counter to the need for livestock haulers to get live animals to their destination within a specific timeframe. Once drivers reach the limit, they must wait 10 hours before driving again.
The National Organic Program (NOP) facilitates international trade for U.S. organic farms and businesses wanting to export organic products. Some foreign governments require specific documents, such as export certificates, before accepting organic products from the U.S. USDA organic certifiers provide export certificates for certified organic products shipped outside the U.S. Export certificates provide key information for farm-to-market traceability of traded organic products. To support this process, USDA launched a new organic module in the Electronic Trade Document Exchange System (eTDE) to: Make export certificates available electronically. Offer a wide range of certificate requirements, from paper with wet signatures to electronic paperless transactions. Allow U.S. organic farms and businesses to request and obtain copies of organic export certificates from their certifier. Allow authorities in the participating foreign countries to receive electronic export certificates, review information about shipments leaving the U.S., validate printed export certificates, and pull electronic certificates directly into their own systems. Who can use eTDE? Accredited certifiers, USDA certified organic farms and businesses, and exporters to participating countries: Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Mexico. Additional countries may be added in the future, as more governments begin to accept electronic data into their import systems.
Three Nebraska farmers will plead guilty to knowingly marketing non-organic corn and soybeans as certified organic as part of a lengthy, multi-million-dollar fraud scheme.Tom Brennan, his son James Brennan and family friend Michael Potter have each agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud. Their plea hearings are scheduled for Friday in federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.Prosecutors allege that the three conspired with the owner of a large Iowa-based company to dupe customers nationwide who thought they were buying grains that had been grown using environmentally sustainable practices.All three operated an organic farm in Overton, Nebraska, that was certified through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Organic Program, which requires crops to be grown without the use of fertilizers, sewage sludge and other substances. They also farmed other fields that weren't certified.
President Trump is creating strange bedfellows with his proposal to expand ethanol sales, with some environmental groups and the oil industry opposing the new rule. The groups have different reasons for pushing back against Trump’s plan to remove a key barrier to selling gasoline with 15 percent ethanol (E15), but both say it’s a bad policy and are contemplating suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if it is finalized.Trump on Tuesday directed the EPA to craft a regulation that would allow for sales of E15 year-round. It’s currently prohibited during the summer months due to air pollution concerns.Oil companies and green groups say Trump’s proposal is a politically motivated move designed to shore up support for Republicans ahead of the November midterm elections. Farmers are hurting as a result of Trump’s trade policies, which have prompted foreign tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods.
The U.S. trade deficit rose in August to $53.2 billion. That’s up $3.2 billion. A decline in soybean and oil exports is what pulled us down. China is not buying our beans – at least, not now. Their companies don’t want to pay the 25% tariff imposed by China on our beans. There is some good news. USA Rice Chairman Charley Mathews, Jr. is cheering a big purchase – 90,000 metric tons of rice by Iraq. That is triple what they had been buying. The National Pork Producers Council is praising President Trump for announcing that the U.S. and Japan are to begin trade talks. National Pork Producers Council President Jim Heimer said: “Fantastic news. Japan has been our top export market for years.”
Also, beef exports are expected to increase to South Korea. The duty has just been reduced to 21.3% from 40% and will be eliminated by 2026. Cattlemen are excited to see the U.S. as the largest supplier of beef to South Korea.We need to make free trade deals with South Korea, Japan, and other Asian countries because we are not part of the Trans Pacific agreement. President Trump withdrew.I said I wanted to talk about a frog. Here we go. Assume that you own a farm and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came and said they would take it away from you, even though you own it. It would be off limits to you. The dusky gopher frog doesn’t live on your land but the government decided it would be a perfect home for that useless frog. He is an endangered species but to kick a farmer off of 1,500 acres of his land for a useless frog is outrageous.
U.S. dairy farmers remain hopeful that a new trade deal with Canada could help lift them out of a deep slump, but some are casting doubt that it will make much of a difference in an American market flooded with milk. The deal, announced Monday by President Donald Trump, is “more of the same,” except it hurts Canadian farmers, said Jim Goodman, a Wisconsin dairy farmer and president of the National Family Farm Coalition.“Canadian family farms will go out of business, and Canadian dairy farmers will see their incomes fall due to increased U.S. imports. And while the slightly expanded market will offer small benefits to some U.S. farmers, it does nothing to reduce the overproduction at the heart of our dairy crisis,” Goodman said. The new deal is called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Under the terms, still being finalized, Canada would open more of its dairy market to trade and has agreed to drop its quota and pricing system for “Class 7” milk powders — a move that could help the struggling American dairy industry as it seeks export markets.But it opens only about 3.6 percent of Canada’s market for dairy, poultry and eggs to the U.S., and that’s not much for American farmers.“The impacts will be minimal. Canada’s entire dairy market is smaller than that of Wisconsin,” Goodman said.Tensions over the North American Free Trade Agreement were heightened last year when Canada raised tariffs on ultrafiltered milk used to make cheese and other dairy products.