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Assistance Available for MN Agriculture

The coronavirus pandemic caused major hiccups in the food supply chain earlier in the year, particularly when it came processing and transportation of ag commodities. That’s why nearly $7.7 million of CARES Act funding is now available agricultural producers and meat processors impacted by the COVID-19. Over $4 million is available for hog farmers and $1.25 for turkey farmers who had to depopulate and dispose of those animals. Another $1 million is set aside for meat processing facilities. This financial support also includes dollars for local food systems, Farm Business Management scholarships and Department of Agriculture grants. Hear more from Petersen in this Red River Farm Network interview.

President Trump Pledges Support for Agriculture

President Donald Trump went on-air and online to show his support for farmers Thursday. Comments were made during the White House news briefing on coronavirus. “We have money going out to our farmers in the pretty near future,” said Trump. “Farmers got hurt very badly by all of this; we’re going to be helping out our farmers.” 
 
On Twitter, President Trump also indicated he has directed Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to expedite help to farmers, especially small farm operations. In Trump’s words, his administration “will always be there for our great farmers, cattlemen, ranchers and producers.” Perdue responded in a tweet, saying USDA is using all of its resources to develop a program that will include direct payments to farmers and ranchers hurt by COVID-19.

Walz Signs Executive Order to Help MN Agriculture

Governor Tim Walz today signed Executive Order 20-27 to lift hours of service requirements for truck drivers transporting livestock feed or fertilizer, in order to support Minnesota’s agriculture community while they work to keep Minnesotans fed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
With the ongoing spread of COVID-19 there are heightened concerns within the agricultural industry about the decrease in the commercial driver workforce and the risk it poses to efficient movement of agricultural commodities. Executive Order 20-27 lifts certain regulations on hours of service, helping to facilitate safe and efficient movement of critical supplies.
 
“Minnesota agriculture is critical to both our economic health and our ability to keep Minnesotans fed and healthy during this pandemic,” said Governor Walz. “This measure will help ensure essential agriculture supplies can be transported quickly and efficiently.”
 
Minnesota is one of the top agriculture states in the country—ranking first in grain sales, second in hog sales, and fourth in dairy sales. Commodities such as animal feed and fertilizer are needed to ensure the continuity of essential farming activities and the supply of food in Minnesota and throughout the country.
 
This Executive Order will be effective immediately upon filing with the Secretary of State. 

President Trump Signs $2 Trillion Stimulus Package

The U.S. House approved a $2 trillion stimulus package on Friday that passed the Senate earlier in the week. Hours later, the package gained President Donald Trump’s signature, as coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S. The legislation stands as the largest emergency aid package in U.S. history, featuring $350 billion in Small Business Administration loans. It also includes $14 billion to replenish Commodity Credit Corporation funds and $9.5 billion in separate USDA funding to help ag producers impacted by COVID-19.

Dry Bean Scene

The U.S. Department of State is temporarily waiving interviews for first-time and returning H-2 visa applications. This flexibility will allow farmers to use past workers or those already in the U.S. Learn more in the latest Dry Bean Scene from the Northarvest Bean Growers Association on the Red River Farm Network.

Governor Walz Issues Stay-at-Home Order

Governor Tim Walz has issued a two-week stay-at-home order for all Minnesotans. This executive order comes as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, limiting citizen movement outside of their homes beyond essential needs. The executive order is effective this Friday, March 27 and will last for two weeks. Food and agriculture are among the list of “essential services.”
 

Dry Bean Scene

Agriculture and food have been declared by the Department of Homeland Security as critical infrastructure during the coronavirus outbreak. This allows ag businesses to continue normal operations, despite restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. Learn more in the Dry Bean Scene on the Red River Farm Network, made possible by the Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

Be Safe When Working Around Grain Bins

Extension agricultural engineer Ken Hellevang reminds farmers to understand the risks of working around grain bins. “Wet grain typically leads to storage issues. That can lead to an increase in grain entrapment and other injuries.” Farmers are encouraged to work in teams and break up the crust from the outside of the bin. More safety tips from NDSU Extension can be found here.

Senate Approves FY2020 Budget

The Senate approved a fiscal year 2020 budget on Thursday, sending a $1.43 trillion spending bill to President Donald Trump and avoiding a government shutdown. The 2,300 page deal includes 13 appropriation bills.

U.S. and China Come to Agreement

 
The news of a trade deal between the U.S. and China started to unfold this past week. Chinese officials were vague in a press conference today on the details, but did confirm an agreement on the context of a phase one deal. This includes an increase in agricultural imports. A 25 percent tariff will remain in place, but the penalty tariffs originally set to go into effect Sunday, December 15 will not be charged. Negotiations on the phase two deal will begin immediately. Read more.