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Federal News

Ag Leaders Upset by Trump Immigration Proposal, No Guestworker Markup

DTN | Posted on October 12, 2017

Agriculture leaders are upset by President Donald Trump's announcement Sunday that the administration wants to require e-verification of workers without a new proposal to bring in farm workers, and by the cancellation by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., of the markup of the Ag Guestworker bill that was planned for last Wednesday. The White House on Sunday evening announced an immigration agenda that includes Congress paying for the border wall and implementing the e-verify program for all workers in the United States. The White House did not mention agriculture's need for workers.The White House proposal appears to be the Trump administration's demands if there is to be a deal with Congress to address the future of the 800,000 young people who have been allowed to stay in the country under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) system established by the Obama administration. Critics have said that the administration's demands may mean there may be no DACA deal.

Sugar’s Storage Loans Benefit Farmers, Consumers, Taxpayers Alike

Agri-Pulse | Posted on October 12, 2017

Fall marks the start of the busy harvest season for sugarcane and sugarbeets across the country. In Florida, farmers hope for the best as they cut wind-blown cane from fields hit hard by Irma.In southern Louisiana, the dry weather in recent weeks has made harvesting in the often-muddy soil a little easier.  But, farmers there know that the hurricane season lasts through November and the threat of frost intensifies in December.Here in Idaho, as well as Minnesota, Michigan and eight other states, farmer-owned sugar processing facilities will soon start running 24 hours a day as we dig beets from the ground, racing against the season’s first freeze. Food companies and retailers have chosen not to construct huge on-site warehouses to store ingredients or pay for a year’s worth of inventory in advance of delivery. Instead, they benefit from “just-in-time delivery,” where sugar producers store, handle and transport the ingredient exactly when it is needed.  And the customer typically pays for the sugar 30 days after it is delivered.While this strategy reduces food company and retailer costs, it pushes those costs onto producers. That’s where the non-recourse loans found in the Farm Bill come into play. These loans are designed to help producers pay bills associated with the crop while they are marketing it throughout the year.  Then, when crops are sold, the loans are repaid with interest.These loans are at the heart of U.S. sugar policy, and repayment with interest is why sugar policy operates at no cost to taxpayers. 

As the immigration debate ramps up, here are the leading bills already pending in Congress

The Los Angeles Times | Posted on October 12, 2017

Because of the deep divides over immigration, passage of reform will be difficult. But since the issue has been kicking around Congress for years, there are already several bills that could provide a foundation or pieces for an immigration package. The Dream Act,a longstanding bill that would offer Dreamers a path to citizenship if they continue to participate in the higher education system, the military or the workforce. The Rac Act, The RAC Act also outlines a path to citizenship for immigrants but expects a longer time commitment in higher education, the military or the workforce. The Succeed Act, Applicants must sign a waiver that would forfeit any future immigration benefits if they violate the terms of their status, which critics worry will leave immigrants defenseless but proponents say will cut down on future illegal immigration.

Why Trump’s Immigration Demands Haven’t Changed the Dynamics on Hill

Roll Call | Posted on October 12, 2017

President Donald Trump’s decision to push for his border wall as part of an immigration deal — after previously saying it would be dealt with separately — would, at first glance, seem to lower the probability of a bipartisan accord. But the prospects were already grim. So Sunday’s release of Trump’s immigration policy priorities caused no major shift in the dynamics on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers have roughly five months to provide a legislative replacement for the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, that the Trump administration is phasing out. The program provides work permits to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children, sheltering roughly 800,000 from deportation.


U.S. dairy calls for end to Canadian supply management

Politico | Posted on October 11, 2017

U.S. dairy producers are taking a hard line ahead of the fourth round of the NAFTA talks this week by urging the Trump administration to push for elimination of Canada’s supply management system. “I don’t know what the U.S. government is going to do, but we certainly are talking very clearly that we need complete elimination of [Canadian] tariffs,” said Jaime Castaneda, senior vice president for strategic initiatives and trade policy at the National Milk Producers Federation. “Once you eliminate tariffs, supply management goes.” That’s a big demand, since Canadian officials from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on down have vowed to vigorously defend the supply management system.  The U.S. has already eliminated most agricultural tariffs through the NAFTA framework, except for dairy and sugar, so there is relatively little more Canadian and Mexican farmers can get from a new deal. But since both Mexico and Canada have long wanted FDA recognition to sell Grade A dairy products like fresh yogurt and fresh cheeses in the U.S., there could be pressure to allowthose products in, Vetter said.The U.S. and Mexico recently struck a sugar deal that takes care of the most immediate concerns on that front, but Canada continues to want to be able to export more refined sugar to the U.S., Vetter added. In addition, since Canada’s refineries have excess capacity, they'd like to be able to import raw sugar from other countries around the world, refine it, and have it count as Canadian when exported to the U.S. so it can enter duty-free, she added.

Sportsmen See Bad Precedent in Reopening Compromise to Protect Western Range Bird

DTN | Posted on October 10, 2017

 Leaders for sportsmen's and conservation groups in Western states are becoming more critical over the Trump administration's decision last week to reopen a protection agreement for the greater sage grouse in 11 states. After months of internal discussions, the Department of Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced last week it would reopen public comments on 98 greater sage grouse land-management plans across the West. BLM cited the need to respond to a U.S. District Court decision last March out of Nevada in which a federal judge ruled BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 by failing to prepare a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the sage grouse land management plans in Nevada. The court case stemmed from a pair of counties and a mining firm fearful of mining restrictions because of the sage grouse compromise.The decision comes after BLM also canceled 10 million acres of proposed sagebrush protection for the grouse in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming, opening up those lands for energy development.

EPA to scrap clean power plan: What it means locally

ABC News | Posted on October 10, 2017

Kilbert says regardless of today's announcement, coal is being phased out by a lot of power companies, and it all comes down to money, "Coal irrespective of any environmental regulations is phasing out because of cheap natural gas along with solar and wind and other alternative energy sources." In spite of today's announcement, experts say abandoning the clean power plan probably won't change the long-term outlook for coal.

Reports shared with county legislators that details labor difficulties for dairy farmers

The Batavian | Posted on October 10, 2017

If the current administration in the White House was successful in closing the southern border and deporting all migrant farm workers, it would be devastating to Upstate's economy according to a report prepared earlier this year by Farm Credit East. Libby Eiholzer, a bilingual dairy specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, shared the finding of the report during a presentation Tuesday to the County Legislature's Human Services Committee."What they found was there are at least a thousand farmers in the state that are at a higher risk, that they are highly dependent on immigrant labor," Eiholzer said. "If they lost their employees they could potentially go out of business. It would reduce the ag production by over $1 billion. There would be 900,000 fewer acres in production. On-farm jobs would be reduced by 20,000 and then there would be another 23,000 fewer off-jobs in the industry. The total economic impact would be $7.2 billion."Farmers are so dependent on immigrant labor that they feel caught between INS enforcement and farm labor advocacy groups, Eiholzer said. Both the agency and the labor groups, farmers fear, are a threat to their ability to stay in business. That makes them hesitant to raise their concerns publicly about immigrant labor or work with the advocacy groups to ensure farm workers receive adequate care and protection.

U.S. Chamber warns U.S. demands could torpedo NAFTA talks

Reuters | Posted on October 10, 2017

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged the Trump administration on Tuesday to moderate its stance in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, describing some of Washington’s demands as “poison pill proposals” that could doom the talks. Thomas Donohue, the chamber’s president and chief executive, will raise a red flag about the progress of the negotiations, according to advance excerpts of a speech he was due to make in Mexico City on Tuesday morning.The group has argued repeatedly in recent weeks that NAFTA is critical to U.S. industries such as agriculture and manufacturing.“There are several poison pill proposals still on the table that could doom the entire deal,” Donohue said in remarks to be delivered at an event hosted by AmCham Mexico. “All of these proposals are unnecessary and unacceptable.”The U.S. Chamber did not specify what the most contentious proposals were in the excerpts of the speech, but a number of thorny issues have been highlighted by the Mexican and Canadian governments and the U.S. private sector in recent weeks.    These include U.S. exploration of imposing national content requirements for some products, not just regional thresholds, within certain sectors of industry, such as carmaking.

Providing revenue protection for the dairy industry

edairynews | Posted on October 9, 2017

he dairy state of Wisconsin, for example, has lost 20 percent of its dairy farms within the last five years. Despite the loss in total farms, Wisconsin still produced a record 30 billion pounds of milk in 2016. A similar thing is happening in most states, Utah included. The 2014 USDA Farm Bill included voluntary dairy farmer participation in the Margin Protection Program-Dairy (MPP). The purpose of this federal dairy income safety net was to protect the margins between milk prices and the cost of feeds cows eat. Initially a relatively high percentage of the nation’s dairy farms chose to participate in the program. Most of the operations opted for the catastrophic $4-per-cwt coverage level. Less than 10 percent of the enrolled dairy farmers elected to purchase coverage above $4 per cwt. Dairy farmer participation in this program continues to slide and dairy farm operations, even well-managed dairies, continue to go out of business. MPP has not met the expectations of dairy producers. Though milk prices have continued to decline since 2014, feed prices have been low, too. As such, MPP-Dairy margins did not fall substantially. MPP-Dairy made some payments in the sprint of 2015 and ’16, but these payments did not cover the allocated premiums and administrative costs paid by dairy farmers. The American Farm Bureau Federation estimates dairy farmers paid approximately $100 million in premiums and administrative fees, yet received only $12 million in program payments. MPP-Dairy has simply failed to deliver the protection dairy farmers need and expect.