CFAP Details Coming This Week

USDA is expected to announce details about the next round of coronavirus relief payments this coming week. During a stop in Iowa, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the rules will be announced before Friday’s deadline for enrolling in the current CFAP program. The second round of CFAP payments will cover COVID-19 related losses from April 15 to the end of the year.
 
Current program information is available here.

USDA Updates Conservation Provisions for Wetlands

USDA has issued a final rule for farmer who appeal the Natural Resources Conversation Service wetland determinations. With that, landowners now have the right to an onsite farm visit. This ruling comes in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill. Additional clarifications were made in the final version, which was published in the Federal Register today.
 

Mexico Proposes Gradual Phase Out of Glyphosate

Source: U.S. Dry Bean Council
 
Over the past months, we have reported on our concerns regarding a global surge in movements to ban to use of glyphosate and other herbicides/pesticides. Our biggest concern is that this will translate into the imposition of very low or zero tolerances for herbicide use in imported agricultural products, including dry beans. This would create a major disruption of trade. This is happening in many countries, but as our largest single nation export market, we have kept a close eye on developments in Mexico in this regard and in particular, the use of the Precautionary Principle. The Precautionary Principle would ban the use of any product without absolute certainty that it won’t cause health problems at some point. This is not a science based risk assessment, which is why there is so much concern.
 
Earlier this month, as reported in the Mexican daily, Reforma, and many other news publications, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has ordered the gradual phase out of the use of glyphosate by 2024. While this does not translate into import restrictions at this time, it is of concern as it is not inconceivable that things could evolve that way. This concern goes beyond Mexico and applies to many of our other important export markets as well, including our largest regional market, the European Union. This is an issue of critical importance to USDBC. While CODEX has been the scientific standard for acceptable MRLs (maximum residue limits), that protect both human health and don’t disrupt trade, many countries are moving away from this and becoming more restrictive. We will be putting time and resources into this issue moving into the fall with the goal of preventing any disruption of trade.

Select Counties Can Hay/Grazing Cover Crops Early

USDA’s Risk Management Agency is opening up haying and grazing of cover crops on prevent plant acres to September 1 for 42 counties in the Dakotas. This response follows letters sent from North Dakota farm groups, noting the backlog in livestock numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic and large amount of PP acres in the state due to excessive flooding. The 23 qualifying North Dakota counties include: Barnes, Cass, Grand Forks, Nelson, Steele, Stutsman and Wells.
 

U.S. Imposes Tariffs, Canada Retaliates

 
The Trump Administration has placed tariffs on certain types of aluminum from Canada. This decision comes about a month after the implementation of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said the tariffs are “unwarranted and unacceptable.” The Canadian government plans to impose $3.6 billion in retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. Over the next 30 days, the country will determine what U.S. products will face the tariffs. There are no agriculture commodities on the preliminary list. Agricultural interests are monitoring this skirmish for possible trade retaliation.

USDA Improves Crop Insurance Policies with New Options

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced changes to several crop insurance policies improving options for producers, including introducing a new Quality Loss Option, a new unit structure assignment option for Enterprise Units (EU) and new procedures for Multi-County Enterprise Units (MCEU).
 
Specifically:
  • The new Quality Loss Option is in response to the 2018 Farm Bill that required the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) to research and develop methods of adjusting for quality losses. The new Quality Loss Option allows producers to replace post-quality production amounts in their Actual Production History (APH) databases with pre-quality production amounts, thereby increasing their actual yields for individual crop years.
  • For EUs and MCEUs, a new unit structure assignment option was added. Now, if the producer doesn’t qualify for separate EUs on both practices (EUs for both irrigated and non-irrigated practices, or EUs for both Following Another Crop (FAC) and Not Following Another Crop (NFAC) cropping practices, as authorized), an EU may apply to one practice meeting EU requirements and basic/optional units on the other practice.
 

USMCA Enters into Full Force

On July 1, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) entered into force, replacing the decades-old NAFTA. USMCA was signed into law by President Donald J. Trump on January 29 after it received overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress. USMCA advances U.S. agricultural interests in two of the most important markets for American farmers, ranchers, and agribusinesses.
 
Key provisions in USMCA for the dry bean industry include:
  • Sanitary/Phytosanitary Measures: The three countries agree to strengthen disciplines for science-based measures that protect human, animal, and plant health while improving the flow of trade.
  • Biotechnology: For the first time, the agreement specifically addresses agricultural biotechnology – including new technologies such as gene editing – to support innovation and reduce trade-distorting policies.
This high-standard agreement builds upon existing markets to expand U.S. food and agricultural exports and support food processing and rural jobs. Canada and Mexico are the first and second largest export markets for U.S. food and agricultural products, totaling more than $39.7 billion food and agricultural exports in 2018. These exports support more than 325,000 American jobs.

Global Uptick in Pesticide/Herbicide Restrictions Could Disrupt Trade

The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) is keeping a close eye on the changing regulatory environment governing the import of different pesticide/herbicide products. This is an issue that has been brewing for some time but recent health concerns are increasingly translating into import bans on the products themselves and the announcement or notification of intent to lower tolerances or maximum residue levels (MRLs) on imported agricultural products. So far Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam, China and the European Union have all announced varying degrees of intent to revisit tolerance levels. This includes precautionary principles (Mexico), future intentions as part of a new Green Deal (EU), and actual notifications to the WTO (China), which is the last step in making a new tolerance level official.
 
The USDBC has long encouraged that countries follow harmonized MRLs as set by Codex but that no longer seems to be an acceptable standard in many of our export markets. Before a notification is made to the WTO and becomes final, the U.S. agricultural community always has the chance to submit commentary but this may or may not alter the course of the intention to lower an MRL. While not all of these affect the U.S. dry bean industry, this is generally a concerning trend as it moves away from harmonization and Codex and could be disruptive to trade. Right now, the USDBC is in an information gathering stage at this point and is planning a new research and advocacy initiative focused on global MRLs for late 2020/21. 

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program Signup Now Open

Signup for the $16 billion Coronavirus Food Assistance Program through USDA is now open. Eligible commodities include several specialty crops and non-speciality crops, as well as livestock. USDA is working to identify commodities not included CFAP to potentially be added. Farmers and ranchers who suffered a five percent or greater price decline between mid-January and mid-April or with unharvested, mature crops are encouraged to submit comments to USDA.

CFAP Signup Set to Begin May 26, Program Details Released

Signup for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program will begin after Memorial Day on Tuesday, May 26. That is according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, who says $16 billion in direct payments will be sent to farmers as soon as one week after USDA launches the portal. The signup window will then remain open through August. Program details were sent out in a news release that can be viewed here. The specific payments rates for eligible commodities are available for non-speciality crops, specialty crops, and livestock.