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Press Release:
August 6, 2019

The Agricultural and Food Policy Center, or AFPC, at Texas A&M University, College Station, named Dr. Bart Fischer as co-director beginning Sept. 1. Fischer comes to AFPC after serving more than eight years at the House Committee on Agriculture as chief economist under two chairmen, Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma and Rep. K. Michael Conaway of Texas. For the past two and a half years, he also served as deputy staff director. Read the entire article.

USDA Announces Support for Farmers Impacted by Unjustified Retaliation and Trade Disruption

(Washington, D.C., May 23, 2019) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will take several actions to assist farmers in response to trade damage from unjustified retaliation and trade disruption. President Trump directed Secretary Perdue to craft a relief strategy to support American agricultural producers while the Administration continues to work on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals to open more markets in the long run to help American farmers compete globally. Specifically, the President has authorized USDA to provide up to $16 billion in programs, which is in line with the estimated impacts of unjustified retaliatory tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods and other trade disruptions. These programs will assist agricultural producers while President Trump works to address long-standing market access barriers. Continue reading.

Source: The White House

On National Agriculture Day, we acknowledge the immeasurable value farmers, ranchers, growers, producers, and foresters contribute to our Nation. America’s agriculture families and communities lead the world in producing food, feed, fuel, and fiber.

Today, we pay tribute to the men and women who expand opportunities for prosperity, economic development, and food security by cultivating the land across our country.

American agriculture strengthens our economy. Valued at more than $141 billion, our country’s agriculture exports are critical to our Nation’s job market, with every $1 billion in exports supporting approximately 8,400 American jobs. Counting for approximately 5.5 percent of our gross domestic product, our agriculture, food, and related industries are vital to our Nation’s global economic success.

Accordingly, my Administration is working to modernize and improve trade agreements to remove barriers and open foreign markets to goods grown and produced here in the United States.

Last year, I made good on my promise to renegotiate the outdated and unbalanced North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Once approved by the Congress, the USMCA will help farmers, especially dairy producers, have improved access to markets for their products by lifting unfair restrictions by Canada on American dairy, wheat, and wine producers.

We must continue to streamline our regulatory environment so that agricultural innovation can flourish and help our farmers, ranchers, and foresters meet the world’s growing demand for food. My Administration, therefore, is streamlining regulatory policy for biotechnology, removing the red tape that is slowing down the approval of powerful new agriculture products.

We are also committed to training and supporting the next generation of farmers and agriculture professionals through technical assistance programs so that they have the knowhow to harness the full potential of our Nation’s abundant technological and national resources.

To help ensure the continued success, stability, and prosperity of our Nation’s farmers, ranchers, and producers, I signed into law the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018. This legislation bolsters farm safety-net programs, supports expanded markets for America’s agricultural production, promotes active management of natural resources, and maintains strong rural development and research initiatives.

In addition, a key provision in the law requires the Federal Communications Commission to work with the Department of Agriculture to boost broadband deployment and adoption in rural areas. This initiative will provide more farmers, ranchers, and rural communities access to next-generation digital technologies that enhance profitability and sustainability, greatly improving quality of life for all Americans.

The American farmer embodies the timeless virtues of our Nation: hard work, self-reliance, and dedication to family. On this National Agriculture Day, we express our gratitude to those who feed and clothe us, fuel our economy, and inspire us with their determination and perseverance.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim March 14, 2019, as National Agriculture Day. I encourage all Americans to observe this day by recognizing the preeminent role that agriculture plays in our daily lives, acknowledging agriculture’s continuing importance to rural America and our country’s economy, and expressing our deep appreciation of farmers, growers, ranchers, producers, national forest system stewards, private agricultural stewards, and those who work in the agriculture sector across the Nation.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirteenth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand nineteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-third.

DONALD J. TRUMP

Starting with export data, the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) has not published a weekly Export Sales report since Dec. 20, 2018. FAS has resumed daily reporting of export sales and will implement the following schedule to bring weekly reporting up to date:

— The report for the week ending Dec. 20, 2018, will be published Thursday, Jan. 31.

— The report for the week ending Dec. 27, 2018, will be published Feb. 7.

— The report for the week ending Jan. 3, 2019, which will include the marketing-year changeover figures for hides and skins, wet blues, pork and beef, will be published Feb. 14.

Additional information about the Export Sales Reporting Program is available at :https://www.fas.usda.gov/programs/export-sales-reporting-program

USDA’s Farm Service Agency extended deadlines on many of its programs because of the government shutdown and the emergency nature of many of the programs. Below are updated deadlines:

Market Facilitation Program
Deadline to apply extended to Feb. 14, 2019

Marketing Assistance Loans
If loan matured in December 2018, settlement date extended to Feb. 14, 2019

Peanut loans or Loan Deficiency Payments – loan availability date now Feb. 28, 2019

Emergency Conservation Program
Performance reporting due Feb. 14, 2019

Livestock Forage Disaster
2018 application for payment due Feb. 28, 2019

Emergency Assistance Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program
Notice of loss due Feb. 14, 2019

Livestock Indemnity Program
Notice of loss due Feb. 14, 2019

Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program
Submitting 2019 application for coverage due Feb. 14, 2019

Notice of loss for 72-hour harvest and grazing (as applicable) due Feb. 14, 2019

Notice of loss for prevented planting and failed acres due Feb. 14, 2019

Applications for payment for 2018 covered losses due Feb. 14, 2019

Tree Assistance Program
Notice of loss due Feb. 14, 2019

For inquiries related to these programs or any not listed above, please contact your local USDA Service Center.

PRESS RELEASE: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
(Washington, D.C., January 22, 2019)
USDA to Reopen FSA Offices for Additional Services During Government Shutdown

(Washington, D.C., January 22, 2019) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that all Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices nationwide will soon reopen to provide additional administrative services to farmers and ranchers during the lapse in federal funding.  Certain FSA offices have been providing limited services for existing loans and tax documents since January 17, and will continue to do so through January 23.  Beginning January 24, however, all FSA offices will open and offer a longer list of transactions they will accommodate.  

Additionally, Secretary Perdue announced that the deadline to apply for the Market Facilitation Program, which aids farmers harmed by unjustified retaliatory tariffs, has been extended to February 14.  The original deadline had been January 15.  Other program deadlines may be modified and will be announced as they are addressed.

“At President Trump’s direction, we have been working to alleviate the effects of the lapse in federal funding as best we can, and we are happy to announce the reopening of FSA offices for certain services,” Perdue said.  “The FSA provides vital support for farmers and ranchers and they count on those services being available.  We want to offer as much assistance as possible until the partial government shutdown is resolved.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has temporarily recalled all of the more than 9,700 FSA employees to keep offices open from 8 am to 4:30 pm weekdays beginning January 24.  President Trump has already signed legislation that guarantees employees will receive all backpay missed during the lapse in funding.

For the first two full weeks under this operating plan (January 28 through February 1 and February 4 through February 8), FSA offices will be open Mondays through Fridays.  In subsequent weeks, offices will be open three days a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays if needed to provide the additional administrative services. 

Agricultural producers who have business with the agency can contact their FSA service center to make an appointment. 

FSA can provide these administrative services, which are critical for farmers and ranchers, because failure to perform these services would harm funded programs.  FSA staff will work on the following transactions:

  • Market Facilitation Program.
  • Marketing Assistance Loans.
  • Release of collateral warehouse receipts.
  • Direct and Guaranteed Farm Operating Loans, and Emergency Loans.
  • Service existing Conservation Reserve Program contracts.
  • Sugar Price Support Loans.
  • Dairy Margin Protection Program.
  • Agricultural Risk Coverage and Price Loss Coverage.
  • Livestock Forage Disaster.
  • Emergency Assistance Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program.
  • Livestock Indemnity Program.
  • Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program.
  • Tree Assistance Program.
  • Remaining Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program payments for applications already processed.

Transactions that will not be available include, but are not limited to:

  • New Conservation Reserve Program contracts.
  • New Direct and Guaranteed Farm Ownership Loans.
  • Farm Storage Facility Loan Program.
  • New or in-process Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program applications.
  • Emergency Conservation Program.
  • Emergency Forest Rehabilitation Program.
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program.
  • Grassroots Source Water Protection Program.

With the Office of Management and Budget, USDA reviewed all of its funding accounts that are not impacted by the lapse in appropriation. We further refined this list to include programs where the suspension of the activity associated with these accounts would significantly damage or prevent the execution of the terms of the underling statutory provision. As a result of this review, USDA was able to except more employees. Those accounts that are not impacted by the lapse in appropriation include mandatory, multiyear and no year discretionary funding including FY 2018 Farm Bill activities.

Updates to available services and offices will be made during the lapse in federal funding on the FSA shutdown webpage.  Programs managed by FSA that were re-authorized by the 2018 farm bill will be available at a later date yet to be determined.

(Washington, D.C., January 16, 2019) – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that many Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices will reopen temporarily in the coming days to perform certain limited services for farmers and ranchers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recalled about 2,500 FSA employees to open offices on Thursday, January 17 and Friday, January 18, in addition to Tuesday, January 22, during normal business hours. The offices will be closed for the federal Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, January 21.

In almost half of FSA locations, FSA staff will be available to assist agricultural producers with existing farm loans and to ensure the agency provides 1099 tax documents to borrowers by the Internal Revenue Service’s deadline.

“Until Congress sends President Trump an appropriations bill in the form that he will sign, we are doing our best to minimize the impact of the partial federal funding lapse on America’s agricultural producers,” Perdue said. “We are bringing back part of our FSA team to help producers with existing farm loans. Meanwhile, we continue to examine our legal authorities to ensure we are providing services to our customers to the greatest extent possible during the shutdown.”

Staff members will be available at certain FSA offices to help producers with specific services, including:

• Processing payments made on or before December 31, 2018.

• Continuing expiring financing statements.

• Opening mail to identify priority items.

Additionally, as an intermittent incidental duty, staff may release proceeds from the sale of loan security by signing checks jointly payable to FSA that are brought to the county office by producers. 

Information on the locations of FSA offices to be open during this three-day window will be posted:

• On the USDA website.

• On Twitter at @SecretarySonny and @USDA.

• On USDA’s Facebook page.

While staff are available in person during this three-day window, most available services can be handled over the phone. Producers can begin contacting staff on January 17 here.

Additionally, farmers who have loan deadlines during the lapse in funding do not need to make payments until the government shutdown ends.

Other FSA Programs and Services 

Reopened FSA offices will only be able to provide the specifically identified services while open during this limited time. Services that will not be available include, but are not limited to:

• New direct or facility loans.

• New Farm loan guarantees.

• New marketing assistance loans.

• New applications for Market Facilitation Program (MFP).

• Certification of 2018 production for MFP payments.

• Dairy Margin Protection Program.

• Disaster assistance programs, such as:

o Livestock Indemnity Program.

o Emergency Conservation Program.

o Wildfires and Hurricanes Indemnity Program.

o Livestock Forage Disaster Program.

o Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish.

While January 15, 2019 had been the original deadline for producers to apply for MFP, farmers have been unable to apply since December 28, 2018, when FSA offices closed because of the lapse in federal funding.  Secretary Perdue has extended the MFP application deadline for a period of time equal to the number of business days FSA offices end up being closed, once the government shutdown ends. These announced days of limited staff availability during the shutdown will not constitute days open in calculating the extension. Producers who already applied for MFP and certified their 2018 production by December 28, 2018 should have already received their payments.  

More information on MFP is available at www.farmers.gov/manage/mfp.