Farmers Union Minute

Read the latest from North Dakota Farmers Union!

July 3, 2020

NDFU Challenges EPA Rule

NDFU joined a coalition of groups in filing a legal challenge to EPA’s recent fuel efficiency rulemaking. The Safer Affordable Fuel Efficiency Vehicle Rule (SAFER) fails to provide a path to adoption of mid-level ethanol blends. In a press release Monday, NDFU President Mark Watne said EPA’s rule is “bad for the environment and bad for farmers who grow renewable energy, year after year.”
EPA has also come under fire lately for considering 52 small refinery exemptions (SREs) that would circumvent a January federal court ruling. In that case, which was brought by National Farmers Union (NFU) and three other groups, the court determined that EPA granted some waivers illegally. Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) is actively blocking the confirmation of EPA’s deputy administrator nominee until the agency pledges to deny the SRE requests.

CFAP Applications Accepted Online

FSA is now accepting Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) applications online. The online portal allows producers to certify eligible commodities, digitally sign applications and submit items directly to their local USDA Service Center. For a step-by-step guide on applying for CFAP online, click here. If you do not already have an eAuthentication account, click “Create Account” on the “Log In” page.
USDA opened signup for CFAP on May 26 and will accept applications through Aug. 28. So far, USDA has approved more than $4.85 billion in payments to 319,544 producers. According to USDA’s weekly report, about 55.6% has gone to livestock producers and 41.3% has gone to “non-specialty” crops. North Dakota producers have filed 10,053 applications and received $97.5 million in payments..

NDFU Urges Livestock Hearing

On Monday, NDFU and 12 other groups urged the Senate Agriculture Committee to hold a hearing on Livestock Mandatory Price Reporting (LMR). In a letter, the groups highlighted the severe economic challenges ranchers are facing and cited a need to “realign the cattle marketplace with its fundamentals.” The LMR reauthorization is due on Sept. 30.
The hearing would offer a new opportunity to examine the so called “50/14 proposal” recently introduced by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Jon Tester (D-MT). That change would require meatpackers to purchase at least 50% of their cattle through the cash market. Currently, only 20-25% of cattle are purchased through the cash market, limiting transparency and preventing price discovery.

In the Numbers

Over the past three years, cattle purchases on the cash market have accounted for roughly 23% of total fed cattle procurement. Cash trades, which are formally referred to as negotiated trades, have steadily declined in the last several years. At the same time, the use of formula pricing has increased and now accounts for two thirds of cattle trades in the five LMR reporting regions.

Senate Considers Carbon Markets

On June 24, the Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing to consider the Growing Climate Solutions Act of 2020 (S. 3894). The bipartisan legislation, which has garnered broad support from farm groups, would improve transparency and consistency in carbon credit markets. Specifically, S. 3894 establishes a certification program for technical assistance providers and third-party verifiers.
NFU President Rob Larew testified in support of the legislation and highlighted NDFU’s successful Carbon Credit Program, which delivered more than $7.4 million to 3,900 farmers in 2006-2010. Larew argued that carbon credit markets can provide new revenue streams and offset the costs of implementing conservation practices. Representatives from Farm Bureau, Land O’ Lakes and the Environmental Defense Fund also testified in support of the bill.

USMCA Goes Into Effect

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) went into effect on Wednesday, officially replacing the former North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). USMCA slightly expands access to the Canadian and Mexican markets for U.S. wheat, dairy and poultry. NDFU has previously said the agreement provides stability for U.S. farmers but was a missed opportunity to restore mandatory Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL).
USMCA’s entry into force comes as the administration provides mixed messages on the “Phase One” agreement with China. Last week, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro said the deal was “over” but quickly walked back those comments after President Trump said the agreement remained fully intact. In the first quarter of 2020, China purchased $4.65 billion in ag products, just 13% of their annual commitment.