“America the Beautiful” Initiative Revealed

On Thursday, the Biden-Harris administration outlined a vision for how the United States can work collaboratively to conserve and restore the lands, waters and wildlife that support and sustain the nation. The report outlines a locally led and voluntary nationwide conservation goal to conserve 30 percent of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.
“This report is only the starting point on the path to fulfilling the conservation vision that President Biden has outlined,” says the report. “Where this path leads over the next decade will be determined not by our agencies, but by the ideas and leadership of local communities. It is our job to listen, learn, and provide support along the way to help strengthen economies and pass on healthy lands, waters, and wildlife to the generations to come.”
View the report.

President Biden Outlines Details of American Jobs Plan

President Joe Biden released details about the $2.25 trillion American Jobs Plan on Wednesday. The proposal would modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads and main streets, repairing the 10 most economically significant bridges in the country and the worst 10,000 smaller bridges. An emphasis on high-speed broadband is in the package, including the 35 percent of rural Americans who lack access to broadband.

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.

American Rescue Plan Signed into Law

President Joe Biden signed the nearly $2 trillion American Rescue Plan. That was followed up by a prime time address Thursday night where Biden touted the bill and marked the one-year anniversary of the coronavirus pandemic. Democrats passed the bill in both chambers of Congress without a single Republican vote.
This package includes $4 billion to respond to the disruptions in the food supply chain. There’s another $4 billion to provide debt relief for farmers of color with 120 percent of the outstanding federal loans forgiven. The COVID-19 bill also expands last year’s 15 percent increase in SNAP benefits through the end of September.

Ag Not Included in New Stimulus Package

The new $2 trillion coronavirus package does not include any significant assistance for agriculture. There is one provision to provide assistance to minority farms, focused primarily on Black, Hispanic and Native American colleges and universities.

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.

Supplemental CFAP Payments Paused

USDA has suspended $2.3 billion in supplemental Coronavirus Food Assistance (CFAP) payments to farmers. Most of the money is going to contract hog and poultry growers and others who were left out of earlier programs. The Biden Administration put these payments on hold while it reviews the regulations taken during the final days of the Trump Administration. The Farm Service Agency will continue to accept applications during the review process.

Biden Issues Climate Change Executive Order

President Joe Biden issued an Executive Order on climate change. This order outlines three areas of focus for agriculture. First, it sets a goal of conserving 30 percent of lands and oceans by 2030 while launching a process for stakeholder engagement for agriculture. It also establishes a Civilian Climate Corps Initiative and directs the agriculture secretary to get input from farmers, ranchers and other stakeholders on how to encourage the adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices.