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UNL Specialist sees large gap in farm safety net

Brownfield | Posted on November 1, 2018

A University of Nebraska Extension policy specialist foresees a large gap in the farm safety net for crop producers in 2019. Nebraska crop producers, for example, have received 500 to 600 million dollars in total payments on each of the 2014 through 2016 crops. But Brad Lubben says that support, most of it coming from the Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) program, is quickly disappearing as the current farm bill expires.“We’re somewhere less than 200 million this year and heading to much less than that next year,” Lubben says.He thinks there could be a “wholesale shift” to the Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program in the next farm bill.“If that happens, and if we have the current price outlook we have for not much recovery, then we could see some substantial payments due on the ’19 crop—but that’s not paid until 2020,” he says. “So the safety net is still there and it might kick back in again, but we have some cash flow challenges in the meantime.”

These workers are hurt by Trump’s trade war, but ineligible for his bailout

The Washington Post | Posted on October 26, 2018

In August 2017, $27 million worth of soybeans shipped to China through Washington state’s port of Vancouver. This August’s total shipment: $0.The drop, driven by President Trump’s escalating trade war with China, has meant real pain for the longshoremen responsible for transporting the cargo at the port. With fewer crops to load onto ships bound for China, the number of shifts available for longshoremen has fallen. Last month, longshoreman Cager Clabaugh canceled a planned family trip to Disneyland, even though he had already bought five plane tickets and put a $500 deposit on a Los Angeles hotel. With the soybean slowdown, Clabaugh was no longer sure his family could afford the trip.If Clabaugh were a soybean farmer, he might be eligible for some of the $12 billion in federal funding the Trump administration has made available to specific U.S. farmers, an effort to shield them from China’s new tariffs on their products. Those farmers started getting their bailout checks last month, but the bailout is available only to specific groups of producers, excluding other firms and workers along the long supply chain built to connect Chinese markets with U.S. products.The incomplete nature of the farm bailout underscores the administration’s challenge in assessing the broad fallout from Trump’s trade war and deciding which victims should be compensated for their losses and which should have to pay for them out of pocket.

If Parents Get Deported, Who Gets Their Children?

Pew Trust | Posted on October 25, 2018

As the Trump administration increases immigration enforcement actions against working adults, grandparents and other extended family members — often immigrants themselves — are stepping in to care for many of those children left behind.One in five children being raised by extended family members — grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins — live in an immigrant household, more than half a million children, a new report shows. And as the number of deportations continues to rise, the number of immigrant “grandfamilies” will increase as well, researchers say.These immigrant grandfamilies face formidable challenges: traumatized children, lack of easy access to social services such as Medicaid and food stamps, and a fear of engaging with government agencies lest caregivers be deported as well.Immigration advocates have called for greater resources from federal, state and local officials. Some state governments have stepped in, to help immigrant parents prepare for the prospect of being separated from their children, who often are American citizens, and to help caseworkers ensure that minors will be cared for if parents are deported.

USDA provides basic goods and services for rural residents

Ag Policy | Posted on October 25, 2018

In many ways the programs of the USDA serve as a validation of the list of basic goods and services set forth by Reinert. In his discussion of the merits of providing unrestricted cash transfers directly to people for the purchase of food compared to providing conditional cash transfers that set restrictions on the items that can be purchased we found Reinert speaking directly to most of us.He writes, “[A] way of enjoying oneself is to purchase things other than food even when your diet is far less than ideal. These could include televisions, festivals, videogame parlors, and much more. It is not that the poor are stupid in this regard. It is just that the poor are very much like the nonpoor in their behaviors. Indeed, the pursuit of something tasty is a part of what drives the obesity rates in both rich and poor countries.” How many of us have to say, “guilty as charged”?He then discusses policy interventions that have been shown to be useful including “pregnant mothers and their infants…. Evidence suggests that programs that improve the nutrition for these individuals have positive repercussions for for both health and education throughout the children’s lives.”While there are many who believe that American farmers will play a significant role in reducing the number of people around the world who suffer from significant undernutrition, the picture is more nuanced than that. It is clear that exports are important to the financial health of the US farm sector, but the solution to world hunger goes beyond the corn, wheat, and soybeans produced on US farms.

Federal Reserve: Observations on the Ag Economy- October 2018

Farm Policy News | Posted on October 25, 2018

The Federal Reserve Board released its October 2018 Beige Book update, a summary of commentary on current economic conditions by Federal Reserve District. The report included several observations pertaining to the U.S. agricultural economy.Sixth District- Atlanta– “Agriculture conditions across the District remained mixed. By late September, most of the District was drought-free. District corn, soybean, cotton, and peanut harvests were close to their five-year averages although by late September, significant rain in Tennessee resulted in some crop damage and delays in harvesting. Year-over-year prices paid to farmers in August were up for corn, cotton, rice, and eggs, while soybean, beef, and broiler prices were down.Seventh District- Chicago– “Greater-than-usual precipitation slowed the harvest and reduced the quantity and quality of crops, and expectations for net crop income fell accordingly. While expectations for yields were lower than in the prior reporting period, it was still likely that they would reach record levels.

Feds caught off guard by ‘zero tolerance’ immigration policy: GAO

Washington Examiner | Posted on October 25, 2018

Federal officials were caught off guard when the Trump administration announced its “zero tolerance” immigration policy on migrants crossing the southwest border. The policy to criminally prosecute anyone who crossed the border illegally, announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April, was reversed months later by President Trump, but only after it caused a public outcry due to the separation of parents and children.The policy was fully instated in May, but because they did not know in advance about the policy, officials at the two agencies tasked with processing the migrant families were not prepared to enforce it.

FDA drops new produce guidance and wants to talk about it

Food Safety News | Posted on October 25, 2018

Call it a little lite winter reading for America’s produce growers and processors. It’s the 152 pages of non-binding draft guidance titled “Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption: Guidance for Industry,” which is paired with the 71-page “Guide to Minimize Food Safety Hazards of Fresh-cut Produce. “We understand that produce safety begins on the farm, but it doesn’t stop there,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “Everyone in the supply chain, from farm to table and in between, has an important role to play in food safety. Compliance by the produce industry with FSMA’s preventive controls is critical to achieving the public health benefits envisioned by the new law. And the FDA is committed to providing training and other support to farmers and produce processors to help achieve that goal.”

FDA Releases Five-Year Plan for Supporting Antimicrobial Stewardship in Veterinary Settings

FDA | Posted on October 25, 2018

the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) unveiled its five-year action plan for supporting antimicrobial stewardship in veterinary settings. This plan builds upon the important steps CVM has taken to eliminate production uses of medically important antimicrobials (i.e., antimicrobials important for treating human disease) and to bring all remaining therapeutic uses of these drugs under the oversight of licensed veterinarians. It also supports the judicious use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals and is driven by the concept that medically important antimicrobial drugs should only be used in animals when necessary for the treatment, control or prevention of specific diseases.CVM plans to initiate the actions outlined in this document in phases over the next five fiscal years. This phased approach will allow for adjustments based on critical, science-based analysis, public health impact, and feedback from stakeholders. In the coming years, CVM will further engage stakeholders and the public as it develops and implements the strategies for addressing individual actions identified in this plan.

Fed says the new NAFTA isn't going to help US dairy farmers

CNBC | Posted on October 25, 2018

The renegotiated trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada is of little use to the dairy farmers President Donald Trump insisted on helping, Federal Reserve banks in the Midwest are reporting Gains from the new agreement are seen as "too small and too far in the future to help dairy farmers," the Chicago Fed reported in the central bank's periodic report on economic conditions across its 12 districts.The Minneapolis Fed reported that "a substantial number of dairy operations have exited the business since the beginning of the year." The report, called the "Beige Book," was released Wednesday. The Chicago Fed reports "dairy farmers continued to struggle," and Canada and Mexico kept their tariffs on pork, dairy and other agricultural products that they imposed in retaliation for Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum products imported to the U.S.


Chinese and Brazilian companies qualify for anti-China tariff bailout from USDA

Washington Post | Posted on October 25, 2018

A Chinese-owned pork producer is eligible for federal payments under President Trump’s $12 billion farm bailout, a program that was established to help U.S. farmers hurt by Trump’s trade war with China. Smithfield Foods, a Virginia-based pork producer acquired in 2013 by a Chinese conglomerate now named WH Group, can apply for federal money under the bailout program created this summer, said Agriculture Department spokesman Carl E. Purvis. JBS, a subsidiary of a Brazilian company by the same name, is also eligible to apply for the federal money. The two companies are the biggest pork producers in the United States. But the possibility of money flowing to foreign-owned businesses underscores the difficulty of trying to craft government programs that benefit only domestic firms. The international reach of companies makes it hard to ensure that federal dollars stay in U.S. hands, regardless of their intended target.The bailout program has also angered smaller hog producers, who expressed frustration that it appears likely to help large, international farms that already dominate the U.S. pork market.