Ag Appropriations Bill Includes Funding for Regional Priorities

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the ag spending bill for the 2022 fiscal year. This bill maintains support for crop insurance and adds more than $7 billion in disaster assistance. There’s a significant increase in research funding, including specialized research for sugarbeets, canola and pulse crops. More money was put into the Agricultural Marketing Service budget to enforce the Packers and Stockyards Act and to identify ways to improve the accuracy of the reports coming out of the National Agriculture Statistics Service reports.

STB Chairman Expresses Concern Over Container Supply Chain Issues

The global container-based supply chain serving U.S. exporters and importers is continuing to experience unprecedented challenges, congestion, delays and cost increases at virtually every step in the system: overseas and North American ports, railroads, shipping lines, inland rail terminals, trucking and warehousing, noted Specialty Soya & Grains Alliance (SSGA) in a recent transportation update.

Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman Martin J. Oberman, on July 22, sent a letter to all Class I railroads expressing his concern over persistent problems with congestion in the international intermodal supply chain and significant container storage fees that some shippers are being required to pay in order to receive their containers.

Shortly before the start of the pandemic there was a slowdown in the container industry, and still today the biggest losers continue to be the shippers. There were major reductions in container shipping in February 2020 due to quarantines of port operations and manufacturing in China was halted.

“That was followed by a rash of canceled blank sailings in March and April as severe cutbacks in import demand emerged, as the economic impact on global business operations due to the virus came to fruition,” said Bruce Abbe, strategic adviser for trade and transportation. (A blank sailing refers to a sailing skipping one specific port while still traversing the rest of the scheduled route or the entire sailing being canceled.)


FACG Summer Meeting Reveals New Food Assistance Priorities

The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) participated in the summer meeting of the Food Aid Consultative Group (FACG). FACG is a public/private forum mandated in the farm bill to provide a platform for U.S. government agencies to interact with private sector counterparts including Private Voluntary Organizations, agricultural trade groups and Maritime on food assistance priorities. This was the first meeting under the Biden Administration.
While several ongoing humanitarian crises will continue to receive significant attention, there were several new initiatives introduced to the agricultural trade community that hint at a change in resource allocation. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a significant effect on global food assistance programming, and several new concerns were outlined that will likely impact future food assistance programming for the foreseeable future.
The dire food security outlook in Yemen will remain a top food aid priority as the situation is now compounded by COVID. Officials from United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) also outlined new funding allocations and priority assistance for the people of Tigray, Ethiopia in response to civil conflict and a severe humanitarian crisis.
Another priority area of focus in the coming year will be food assistance to Madagascar, as southern Madagascar is on the verge of a famine due to a severe drought impacting over a million people.
Two new areas outlined during the meeting include ongoing concerns regarding the price volatility of commodities used in food aid, and the need to provide new funding to food assistance programs in the Golden Triangle of Central America (Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador) as part of the Administration’s Immigration reform initiative.
USDBC anticipates a strong need for all U.S. agricultural commodities, including dry beans. While beans have not been shipped to Yemen for food assistance as anticipated, the organization hopes to see a return to beans in the food aid basket for Yemen in second half 2021. USDBC has continued to work with USDA, USAID and other food assistance staff to continue to promote the use of dry beans in global food aid programs.

USDBC Board Meets in Denver

The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) Board of Directors convened in-person in Denver, Colorado last week after over a year of virtual meetings. The board tackled a comprehensive list of critical association and programmatic issues over the course of one and a half days, including:
  • Legislative priorities
  • Beans in food aid
  • Trade teams and trade shows in 2022
  • Upcoming bean innovation showcase at Worlds of Flavor with the Culinary Institute of America (CIA)
  • Dues and budgets for the coming year
  • BeanCon22
  • New critical initiatives regarding global MRLs and sustainability
Committee meetings and general sessions discussed several activities planned for the remainder of the year as travel begins to open back up as well as plans for 2022. Global travel for the remainder of 2021 remains limited with ANUGA the only major trade show planned in October. 
Additionally, the board discussed USDBC’s debut participation in the WOF event taking place in Napa Valley in November 2021. This will be a showcase designed to target U.S. and global chefs and introduce them to the various flavor profiles of U.S dry beans and bean ingredients. 
The trade team schedule for 2022 was finalized and applications will be sent out to the industry in the next week. The board also decided to forego an in-person reverse mission during the 2021 dry bean harvest and conduct another global harvest webinar, similar to 2020. 
COVID continues to impact USDBC’s activities and plans but the agenda is busier than ever, and we look forward to a return to in-person events in late 2021 and in 2022.

Northarvest Bean Growers Association Directors Kevin Regan of Devils Lake, North Dakota and Roger Carignan of Cavalier, North Dakota attended the summer meeting. Regan serves as the USDBC secretary/treasurer.

Dry Bean Scene

During a stop at a Crookston farm, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz got a firsthand look at drought conditions in Polk County. The governor spoke with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack twice in the past week and said USDA understands the urgency of the situation. Area farmer Eric Samuelson, who serves as the Northarvest Bean Growers Association President, was in attendance and shared comments with Governor Walz.

Get the full story in the latest Dry Bean Scene made possible, in part, by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

Emergency Procedures Announced to Streamline Crop Insurance Claims

USDA’s Risk Management Agency is authorizing emergency procedures as extreme drought conditions persist across the country. The agency is working with crop insurance companies to simplify the adjustment of losses and issue indemnity payments.
“We recognize the distress experienced by farmers and ranchers because of drought,” said Richard Flournoy, acting administrator, RMA. “These emergency procedures will authorize insurance companies to expedite the claims process, enabling them to plant a new crop or a cover crop.”
Companies can now accept delayed notices of loss in certain situations, streamline paperwork and reduce the number of required samples when crop damage is consistent. Farmers should contact their crop insurance agent as soon as any damage is spotted. Insurance companies must look at the damage before the crop acres are put to another use. Once it has been appraised and released, farmers can then cut the crop for silage, destroy it or plant a cover crop on that field.
More information on these emergency procedures is available on the RMA website. Get the full details from Flournoy in this Red River Farm Network story.

RMA Strengthens Dry Bean Insurance Policy

USDA is making improvements to crop insurance to better enable agricultural producers to manage risk on their operations. Specifically, USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) is adding new options for producers of dry beans.
Beginning in 2022, the Dry Beans and Dry Peas regulation will:
  • Allow enterprise and optional units by type for dry beans and dry peas, preventing a gain on one type of crop from impacting an indemnity for a loss on another type. Enterprise units by type allow a producer to insure all acres of a type in a county as one unit, as opposed to basic and optional units which may base insurance on a portion of the acreage. Enterprise units are attractive to producers due to additional premium discounts provided given risk is diversified across the county.
  • Also, allow enterprise and optional units for dry beans to be insured by written agreement, which is consistent with current provisions for dry peas.
  • Clarify that if no insurable fall planted acreage exists, the later spring sales closing date would apply in counties that have offers for both the fall and spring-planted types.
Crop insurance is sold and delivered solely through private crop insurance agents. A list of crop insurance agents is available at all USDA Service Centers and online at the RMA Agent Locator. Learn more about crop insurance and the modern farm safety net at

USDBC Submits Unified Export Strategy

The U.S. Dry Bean Council (USDBC) submitted the annual Unified Export Strategy (UES) for the 2022 program year to USDA/FAS. The UES is the comprehensive annual global strategy for the U.S. dry bean industry that details the market conditions, constraints, opportunities, activities, and benchmarks in current and emerging export markets.
While strategies change from year to year to reflect the current global and market specific realities, the 2022 application underwent a particularly significant rewrite. This is due to a number of global trends, including:
  • The lingering impact of COVID and the desire for shelf stable healthy food.
  • Increasing popularity of plant slant and plant based diets.
  • A desire to eat foods that are sustainably produced.
  • A growing interest in bean ingredients such as flours.
  • An optimistic outlook regarding the resolution of long standing tariff disputes that have limited U.S. dry bean exports to certain markets. 
The application also addresses long standing trade policy constraints, such as:
  • The lack of harmonization and missing global tolerances for pesticides (MRLs), ongoing retaliatory tariffs in critical markets.
  • Lack of compliance with existing trade agreements that allow zero duty.
  • Zero quota imports of U.S. dry beans.
  • The need to produce evidence of the U.S. dry bean industry’s sustainable farming practices. 
Funding decisions and allocations will be announced in fall 2021.

USDA Officials Review Drought Conditions in North Dakota

North Dakota Senator John Hoeven hosted senior officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) at meetings in Mandan, Minot, Carrington and Argusville to assess drought conditions and gather input from agriculture producers. Risk Management Agency (RMA) Acting Administrator Richard Flournoy and Farm Service Agency (FSA) Administrator Zach Ducheneaux recieved firsthand knowledge of the situation and to help inform farmers and ranchers of the resources available.
Hoeven, Flournoy and Ducheneaux discussed the following assistance and flexibilities that are available to assist producers, to date: 
Available Emergency Assistance
  • Emergency Grazing – Producers in 50 North Dakota counties are currently eligible for emergency grazing of CRP acres at limited capacity.
  • Livestock Forage Program – Provides payments to livestock owners for feed costs, up to 60 percent of the total monthly cost. Producers in 50 North Dakota counties are currently eligible.
  • Emergency Livestock Assistance Program (ELAP) – Provides assistance to livestock producers for losses not covered by other disaster programs, including assistance for the cost of hauling water to livestock.
Further, Hoeven outlined efforts to secure additional disaster assistance, including:
  • Urging Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to allow both emergency haying and grazing of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres in North Dakota before August 1.
  • CRP acres in 50 North Dakota counties are currently eligible to be grazed at limited capacity, they are not eligible to be hayed.
  • In a recent letter to Vilsack, Hoeven led the delegation in stressing the risk of poor forage conditions if producers wait until the required date to hay.
  • Pressing RMA to work with approved insurance providers to ensure quick and fair crop adjustments and payments.
This week’s meetings follow efforts to finalize the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) program and the Wildfire, Hurricane and Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+). The senator is urging USDA to send out the recently-announced payments to producers as soon as possible, which will cover their full QLA payments and additional WHIP+ payments covering 90% of 2019 indemnities as a result.
Producers affected by natural disasters in 2018 and 2019 were eligible to apply for QLA, which covers losses from hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, typhoons, volcanic activity, snowstorms, wildfires, drought and excessive moisture. Additional information on QLA and WHIP+ is available from USDA at

Minnesota Legislative Session Comes to a Close

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz and the legislature were able to avoid a government shutdown, passing a $52 billion budget for the biennium. For agriculture, the session included significant investment in biofuels infrastructure and money for roads, bridges and broadband. Attempts were made to reject the California Clean Cars initiative, but they were unsuccessful.