MN Farmers Voice Concerns at Farmfest

Tough growing conditions and trade were all part of the House Agriculture Committee Listening Session at Farmfest on Wednesday. At the beginning of the discussion, farmer-leaders asked for continued bipartisan work on trade. House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson responded. “I’ve done what I can to get others to support the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. I’ve had some success. We have a ways to go, but I think it’s going to pass.”

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue addressed the concerns of the validity of USDA data. Perdue said USDA staffers are professionals and facts are facts. “Your complaints aren’t the first time I’ve heard farmers don’t believe what the National Agricultural Statistics Service says,” said Perdue. “What I’ve found by looking at the research is the NASS numbers, in the end, are more likely than what I heard.”

Watch the Farmfest listening session.

FSA Administrator Visits ND to Discuss MFP Payments

USDA Farm Service Agency Administrator Richard Fordyce paid a visit to North Dakota, meeting with farmers, agriculture organizations and other state leaders. The trip was prompted by North Dakota Senator John Hoeven to discuss details of the new Market Facilitation Program payments. This was the first roundtable event for the Administrator with farmers regarding the payments.
 
Farmers are still curious as to how the county rates were determined. Fordyce said in order to get payments out sooner rather than later, USDA had to come up with a calculation that didn’t require taking a crop to harvest. “It’s based on acres of crops that were planted in that county, the average yields of those crops times a number by commodity,” said Fordyce. “For example, if there was a county that experienced a weather anomaly within the last three years, that would impact the county yield number.”
 
Hear more and read more about Fordyce’s visit.

U.S. Dry Bean Council Holds Summer Board Meeting

The U.S. Dry Bean Council’s summer board meeting took place July 19 and 20 in Snowmass, Colorado in conjunction with the U.S. Dry Bean Convention. This year’s meeting focused on USDBC’s response to the current trade environment and the downturn in global exports.
 
The Agricultural Affairs and International Promotion Committees both discussed and defined several new approaches to shoring up global markets and expressing industry policy priorities. That includes another Washington D.C. Fly-In in the spring of 2020, and the implementation of several new trade opportunities under the new Agricultural Trade Promotion program.
 

U.S. Dry Bean Convention Begins this Weekend

The U.S. Dry Bean Convention kicks off tomorrow in Snowmass, Colorado. During business sessions, attendees will hear from the U.S. Dry Bean Council, get an update on international markets, listen to U.S. and Canadian crop updates and more. Also speaking at convention is NDSU Extension crops economist Frayne Olson on trade, tariffs and the crop market outlook.
 
A full schedule of events can be found here.

PP Claims Expected to Exceed $1 Billion

According to USDA Undersecretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey, numerous prevented plant claims have already been paid out. “I think those claims have climbed over the $100 million mark so far and we expect that probably to pass the $1 billion mark at some point as you look at the acres that are likely to be in the prevented plant area.”

The NRCS has also announced special cost-share funding for farmers to plant cover crops in eight states. Those eight states include Minnesota and South Dakota. These cost-share dollars are available through the EQIP program.

McKinney: Ag Must be Included in EU-US Trade Negotiations

If agriculture is not included, the United States and European Union will not be able to reach a trade agreement. USDA Undersecretary Ted McKinney made that point during his visit to Brussels. Europe wants a trade deal with the United States, but is refusing to discuss increased market access for U.S. farm products.

Mexico Approves the USMCA

On Wednesday, the Mexico Senate approved the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement by a vote of 114 to 4. Mexico is the first of three countries to ratify the trade deal. Now, all eyes are on Canada and the U.S. to approve the agreement. An implementation bill has been introduced in the Canadian Parliament. Earlier this week, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Democratic concerns with labor and environmental provisions in the USMCA can “be sorted out quickly.”

Censky Meets with MN Farmers

USDA Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Stephen Censky came back to his home state of Minnesota and met with state farm leaders on Tuesday. States like Minnesota and North Dakota, which are more dependent on exports, will see that reflected in the new Market Facilitation Program payments.

“It is based on the calculated impacts on trade per commodity.” says Censky. “That is totaled up together with all the commodities within a county, including how much is produced in each county, and that will determine the county rate. So yes, there will be differences between counties.” The country rate structure has not been announced and that may not happen until after the Farm Service Agency certifies acreage in mid-July. “Our goal is have it available right around or shortly after the USDA acreage report.”

Perdue Promises Trade Assistance as “Quickly as Possible”

While few details are still available, the proposal for USDA’s latest round of Market Facilitation Program payments is currently under review by the Office of Management and Budget. Speaking to reporters in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the trade assistance will go out to farmers as quickly as possible.

“It more than likely won’t be completed in the next two months, but we’re going to move as quickly as we can. We are not revealing details at this point in time.” One reporter asked if the $16 billion would make farmers whole. Perdue said “the purpose is to make them where they’re able to pay their obligations and be able to produce again the following year.”

Trump Issues Disaster Declaration for MN and ND

President Donald Trump has issued a disaster declaration for North Dakota and Minnesota. The declaration covers winter weather and flooding conditions that occurred in the states, triggering the release of Federal funds for recovery. Nineteen North Dakota counties and 51 Minnesota counties can now access assistance for repair or replacement of disaster-damaged facilities.