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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.

Goehring Meets with Perdue, Wheeler

In a meeting with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring outlined concern with the surveys conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service. “I filled mine out recently and I noticed that when I got to the area under corn, I still had almost 1,000 acres standing and there was no box for me to record unharvested acres. It was a box that had me identify what I intend to harvest and my potential production; that is assuming a lot when we don’t know what the losses could be.” Read more.

USMCA Deal Reached

The United States, Mexico and Canada reached a deal on tweaks in labor and steel and aluminum provisions in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. “There’s no question this trade agreement is much better than the North American Free Trade Agreement, but in terms of our work here it’s infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “It’s a victory for America’s workers and one I take pride in advancing.”
 
Mexico’s Senate has approved the changes made to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. On a 107 to 1 vote, Mexico is the first country to ratify the modified trade deal. Now, the USMCA needs approval from U.S. and Canadian lawmakers. The trade deal could come to the U.S. House floor next week for ratification.

U.S. and Japan Roll Out a Trade Agreement

During the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced the first stage of the new trade agreement between the U.S. and Japan. This agreement levels the playing field in terms of market access for certain agriculture and industrial goods, as well as on digital trade. In the next two weeks, the two countries will work out more details. The first stage of the agreement is expected to be finalized by January 2020.

U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement Fact Sheet