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Work Requirements and Safety Net Programs

Hamilton Project | Posted on October 17, 2018

Basic assistance programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly the Food Stamp Program) and Medicaid ensure families have access to food and medical care when they are low-income. Some policymakers at the federal and state levels intend to add new work requirements to SNAP and Medicaid. In this paper, we analyze those who would be impacted by an expansion of work requirements in SNAP and an introduction of work requirements into Medicaid. We characterize the types of individuals who would face work requirements, describe their labor force experience over 24 consecutive months, and identify the reasons why they are not working if they experience a period of unemployment or labor force nonparticipation. We find that the majority of SNAP and Medicaid participants who would be exposed to work requirements are attached to the labor force, but that a substantial share would fail to consistently meet a 20 hours per week–threshold. Among persistent labor force nonparticipants, health issues are the predominant reason given for not working. There may be some subset of SNAP and Medicaid participants who could work, are not working, and might work if they were threatened with the loss of benefits. This paper adds evidence to a growing body of research that shows that this group is very small relative to those who would be sanctioned under the proposed policies who are already working or are legitimately unable to work.

No vote on USMCA until next year, McConnell says

Washington Examiner | Posted on October 17, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Tuesday that the Senate wasn't going to be able to vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade before the end of the year. Postponing the vote until next year means that President Trump may have to get it through a divided Congress, should Democrats regain majorities after the fall election.

Relocation of USDA agencies sparks criticism

Capital Press | Posted on October 17, 2018

Former USDA officials and farm groups are sounding the alarm over the USDA’s plans to move the Economic Research Service and National Institute of Food and Agriculture out of Washington, D.C. The new locations have not yet been chosen. The move is slated to be complete by the end of 2019.The American Statistical Association has sent a letter to Congress, signed by 56 former USDA and federal statistical agency officials to warn of damage the move would cause, including: The loss of staff expertise due to employees not willing to move. Moving the ERS far from its clientele and collaborators who either are located in or visit Washington, D.C. Loss of visibility with policy makers. Puts ERS independence and credibility at risk.

USDA invests in veteran farmers and ranchers

Delta Farm Press | Posted on October 17, 2018

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. 

Trump trade war delivers farm boom in Brazil, gloom in Iowa

Reuters | Posted on October 15, 2018

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.

SARL Alumni, TN Senator Mark Norris confirmed as Federal Judge

The Tennessean | Posted on October 15, 2018

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.”

Why don’t anti-Indian groups count as hate groups?

High Country News | Posted on October 15, 2018

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.



Livestock groups keep up pressure on trucking regs

Meating Place (free registration required) | Posted on October 15, 2018

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.

USDA provides new certificates for imported organics

USDA | Posted on October 15, 2018

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.

3 Nebraska farmers to plead guilty in $10.9 million organic grain fraud scheme

Omaha World Herald | Posted on October 13, 2018

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.