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A Possible PPP Extension

President Joe Biden is expected to sign legislation to extend the deadline for enrollment in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) from March 31 to May 31. At this point, only four percent of PPP loan funding has gone to the agriculture industry. Farmers and ranchers can use PPP funds for such things as payroll, land rent, utility costs and more. Get more information.

FAPRI: Lower Government Payments and High Input Costs Impact Income

This year’s farm income will likely be down from what was seen in 2020. However, the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri expects this year’s net farm income to be much higher than what it was from 2015-to-2019. Net farm income is forecast to come in at $112 billion for 2021. In 2020, farm income topped $120 billion, which was the highest level since 2013.

Farm Credit Conditions Improve

There was a dramatic improvement in farm credit conditions for the Upper Midwest region in the final three months of 2020. More than three-quarters of the agricultural lenders surveyed in the fourth quarter by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis reported an increase in farm incomes. Just under half of the lenders said loan repayment rates have increased. The value of non-irrigated cropland increased 3.6 percent from one year ago. Cash rents for that ground rose more than six percent. Lenders in North Dakota reported the largest increase in land values, up 8.5 percent.

Governor Walz Releases 2022-23 Biennium Budget

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz released a $52 billion budget proposal for the 2022-23 biennium. The proposal would raise taxes for corporations and the wealthy. It emphasizes small business support because of the coronavirus and provides an increase in the general fund for education. The Minnesota Agriculture Department’s budget proposal has a three-percent (about $4 million) increase from the previous biennium. Conservation efforts, trade, farmer stress efforts and more are included the budget proposal. Now, the Department will present the budget to state lawmakers. Read the proposal.

An Exception for H-2A and B Workers with Visas

President Joe Biden’s has issued an Executive Order banning travel from South Africa. Despite this COVID travel ban, the State Department is making an exception for South African workers with H-2A and H-2B visas. This applies to food and agriculture workers. Approximately 5,000 H-2A workers are from South Africa.

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.