USDA Rural Development Launches COVID-19 Resource Webpage

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2020 – USDA Rural Development has launched a COVID-19 resource page to keep our customers, partners, and stakeholders continuously updated on actions taken by the Agency to help rural residents, businesses, and communities impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Visit www.rd.usda.gov/coronavirus for information on Rural Development loan payment assistance, application deadline extensions, and more.

Diversified Crop Insurance Services (DCIS) in now offering Parametric Hemp Production Coverage

For hemp farmers who have found that the Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI) hemp product might not fit their particular needs and want to insure at a higher per-acre coverage than traditional crops, the product offered by DCIS Parametric may be a good tool to provide protection against adverse growing conditions.

Policies developed for every county in the lower 48 states and final offerings subject to State Law and State Filing approval.

China paves way for imports of US distillers grains (via Agri-Pulse)

China is paving the way for an eventual reopening of its market to U.S. dried distillers grains by announcing a list of U.S. companies that are eligible to export the product, according to documents and sources.

U.S. companies are not exporting any DDGs to China now because of high tariffs, but U.S. negotiators fought to get China to agree in the “phase one” trade pact to re-certify U.S. producers to sell to their Chinese clients in preparation for an eventual resumption in trade.

China agreed in the pact to update a long list of U.S. ethanol companies to export the DDGs, and now the country’s General Administration of Customs has done exactly that, releasing a list of 88 U.S. companies on its web site.

China was once the largest foreign market for U.S. DDGs, but trade was halted after the Chinese government levied steep anti-dumping tariffs and countervailing duties on the corn-based product used for livestock feed about three years ago. Since then, the licenses of many U.S. exporters have expired or soon will expire, according to industry sources.

The U.S. exported 6.5 million metric tons of DDGs to China in 2015, worth $1.6 billion, according to the U.S. Grains Council.

“We had a great market and we were loading containers that were going straight to China,” says Randall Doyal, CEO of the Minnesota-based Al-Corn, which is included on the list of 88 U.S. companies. “It was great.”

The tariffs need to be removed, said one industry source, but the fact that China has agreed to the certification of U.S. suppliers is a “key part” of resuming trade. “If you can’t get the permit, it doesn’t matter if there are no tariffs or 100% tariffs, so it’s an important issue,” the source said.

Doyal confirmed the importance of China agreeing to the permits.

“If we can get this knocked out ahead of time, when they finally decide they need the feed, that’s when they’ll remove the tariffs,” he told Agri-Pulse. “And we want to make sure we’re ready to roll.”

Chinese anti-dumping and countervailing duties – as high as 96% – remain in place and continue to prevent trade. U.S. government officials tell Agri-Pulse that they are leaning on China to lift the tariffs, but have not yet been successful.

For more news, go to www.Agri-Pulse.com

Minnesota Industrial Hemp Association Supports Chairman Peterson’s CBD Legislation

The Minnesota Industrial Hemp Association (MIHA), a broad coalition of businesses and individuals who advocate for the re-emerging industrial hemp sector from field to consumer, announced today the organization’s support for Chairman Collin Peterson’s  bill (H.R. 5587) that would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act with respect to the regulation of hemp-derived cannabidiol and hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substances.

“The Minnesota Industrial Hemp Association recognizes the important role FDA plays in evaluating the safety and efficacy of CBD safety regarding a variety of products. We also have an appreciation of the role Congress plays in oversight of federal agencies to ensure the executive branch meets congressional intent” said MIHA President Dave Ladd.

“The explicit language in the bill that ‘hemp-derived cannabidiol or a hemp-derived cannabidiol containing substance’ are exempt from the drug exclusionary provision as it applies to food and dietary supplement products would remove one of the roadblocks for the re-emerging industrial hemp sector and would adhere to the intent of Congress when crafting the 2018 Farm Bill”.

For additional information, contact the association at info@mnindustrialhemp.com or visit mnindustrialhemp.com.

Client Spotlight: 40 Square Cooperative Solutions

40 Square Cooperative Solutions is a local, independent agricultural co-op with health plans created by Minnesota’s agriculture community for Minnesota’s agriculture community, their families and their employees.  In a recent survey of members, an overwhelming majority said they would recommend 40 Square to a friend, which is remarkable for any health care company, let alone a health plan that farmers and agribusinesses own.

What industry/sector do you identify with?

The Minnesota agricultural community and health coverage/insurance.

Number of employees, member patrons, growers, shareholders etc. in Minnesota:

We have three employees and over 1,000 individuals throughout the state of Minnesota.

What about your organization or company’s work are you most proud of?

The issue of health insurance has been an increasing concern over the past decade and a half, particularly in agriculture. For over 15 years, the cooperative and agricultural communities in the state have worked on creating a cooperative member-owned option for our ag industry. Due to our persistence and perseverance, in January of 2017, we successfully passed a final piece of legislation making it a reality. Minnesota now has a first of its kind agricultural cooperative solely focused on providing tailored health coverage options for our state’s agricultural community.

Please highlight key trends affecting your industry.

The continued increase of health care costs is a consistent and constant annual trend. 40 Square aims to provide tools to our members to assist in reducing their costs through our wonderful free telemedicine offering, as well as the ability to contact our customer service to learn the cost of common procedures, putting the power of information in members’ hands to assist them in making more fully-informed decisions when it comes to their health care.

Talk about the key opportunities & challenges facing your business over the next 5 years.

Despite the continued challenge of the overall current state of the agricultural economy, as a new health plan beginning our third year of operation, the opportunity is great for us to create awareness to those involved in agriculture that there’s another health plan option available, and one that they have ownership in. 40 Square also has the ability to provide not only farm families and their employees with coverage but small and large businesses who provide services to production agriculture, which allows us a great opportunity to expand in the future.

To learn more about 40 Square Cooperative Solutions, please visit https://40square.coop/

Details released regarding hemp production regulations

In time for the 2020 planting season, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released details regarding the production and transportation of domestic industrial hemp. The official version of the rule will be published in the Federal Register on Thursday, October 31, 2019 and will be effective immediately. There will be a 60-day comment period ending December 30, 2019.

The 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to establish a national regulatory framework for hemp production in the United States.  The result is the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program, which outlines provisions for the Department to approve plans submitted by States and Indian Tribes for the domestic production of hemp.  It also establishes a Federal plan for producers in States or territories of Indian tribes that do not have their own USDA-approved plan. There will be a 30-day waiting period for USDA to start licensing producers whose states do not have their own regulatory plans.

Although states can continue to ban production of the crop within their borders, they will no longer be allowed to stop the interstate shipment of hemp that is lawfully produced under the regulations. The stopping of hemp shipments by some states has been a primary area of concern for the re-emerging industrial hemp sector and it is hoped the final rule will remove it as a barrier to commerce.

The availability of risk management tools and access to USDA loan programs are also positive steps forward. Upon implementation of state and tribal plans, hemp producers will be eligible for a number of USDA programs.

Many industrial hemp producers will be eligible for the Non-insured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, as well as insurance coverage via whole farm revenue protection  Excessive levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), however, will not be a covered loss under the whole farm policies.

Access to capital continues to be of primary concern to many producers. Under the rule, the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) will be able to offer operating, ownership and on-farm storage loans for next year.

The rule includes procedures for tracking the land where hemp is grown, the disposal of non-compliant plants, testing protocols for concentration levels of THC, and procedures for sharing information with law enforcement.

In addition, USDA is releasing guidelines with specific steps for sampling and testing hemp for THC which will provide information for inspectors and hemp-testing laboratories.

Source: Minnesota Industrial Hemp Association Blog at mnindustrialhemp.com

What Is Your Game Plan For Success?

Organizations and trade associations that understand the importance of strategic communications and/or government relations want to be well-organized, with a solid game plan that can be activated as the situation warrants.
 
RDL & Associates specializes in government relations, policy development and analysis, strategic communications, message development and delivery, coalition development and online outreach.
 
As your company or organization prepares for the year ahead and is giving serious thought to enhancing your current efforts or developing a management plan for your policy and political capital, RDL & Associates would welcome the opportunity to assist you in developing a successful game plan.
 
A strategic and tactical communications and government relations game plan allows for an organization to effectively hit the ground running at the federal, state and local levels of government and across business sectors.
 
This includes preliminary groundwork within the legislative and executive branches of government so that elected officials and regulatory decision makers are well aware of the organization, as well as its mission and agenda, prior to full implementation of a strategic plan.
 
State lobbying and federal lobbying are not mutually exclusive and the strategic partnerships developed by RDL & Associates allows for seamless legislative representation for our clients.
 
Working with our strategic partners, including firms headquartered in Washington, D.C. and St. Paul, MN, we have the capacity to integrate federal and state lobbying, public affairs and communications services in a bipartisan fashion so as to provide cost-effective strategies for our clients.
 
Our collaborations provide for a true team approach and create additional opportunities and efficiencies for our clients. Combined, our firms have over sixty years of legislative, regulatory and political experience. As such, RDL & Associates provides a distinctive advantage at the federal, state, and local level.
 
Developing such an effort does not have to be cost-prohibitive. The fee structure of our can be negotiated so that it best reflects the work expected of RDL & Associates and your organization’s internal budget for such work.
 
If RDL & Associates might be helpful in developing a government relations effort for your organization, we would welcome the opportunity to speak with you and your colleagues as your schedules permit.
 
Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, can be reached at (651) 247-5458 or via e-mail at RDLAssociatesGA@gmail.com.

Opinion – Treating the disease: An opportunity for US in trade war with China (via The Hill)

There is a Chinese proverb that translates as: “It is always better to endure short-term pain than to allow the disease to remain untreated.” This aphorism offers great wisdom in the U.S. trade war with China.

In late August, the United States and China engaged in an artillery duel over tariffs. China imposed retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods in response to Washington’s announcement that it was extending tariffs on an additional $300 billion worth of Chinese goods.  President Trump threatened to use a national emergency to push for American companies to withdraw from China. Not surprisingly, China’s state-owned media continue to express  disapproval of U.S. policy.

This latest trade war escalation triggered investor panic that drove global stock markets downward, devalued the Chinese RMB to a 11-year low, and pushed funds into sovereign bonds and gold to seek stability.

In our view, this was posturing — both parties positioning themselves for a new round of trade talks in Washington.

No doubt, President Trump has been frustrated with the Chinese for resolution of a trade deal, originally negotiated by Liu He, China’s deputy premier and chief trade negotiator, but later reneged by China’s President Xi Jinping. Although talks continued in July, U.S. negotiators returned home empty-handed from Shanghai. Trump has done the right thing to step up pressure on Beijing by increasing tariffs on its goods.

Fundamentally, we believe that China will do everything it can to continue to deceive the U.S., including the use of delaying tactics to continue stealing from the U.S. and in order to take considerable advantage of America’s free and open market.

It is reported that Liu He continues to lead the Chinese trade team, suggesting that Liu still has the Xi’s trust. He recently accompanied Xi to Gansu province to visit a monument and martyrs’ cemetery of the West Route Army of Chinese Red Army, where he laid a floral basket to honor the Chinese Communist Party martyrs.

Liu again represented Xi and delivered a congratulatory letter to the 2019 Smart China Expo that opened Aug. 26 in Chongqing. During his speech, Liu called for resolution of the Sino-U.S. trade war through calm negotiation and cooperation. In response, Trump expressed his admiration of Xi as a “great leader” of China in one of his tweets.

A casual, or more-than-casual, observer might be nonplussed and ponder, “If this ‘great leader’ has fooled you twice, why would a third opportunity be provided?”

In the same speech in which he called for calm resolution, Liu argued, to no one’s surprise, that the U.S. is to blame for the trade war escalation, technology blockade and protectionism. Liu boasts that China is transforming its economy into an even more dynamic one. He contends that China has sufficient macro policy tools and means to ensure that its economy fundamentally remains sound and will maintain its momentum. Interestingly, he noted that China’s new economic growth points have been realized, and its artificial intelligence industry now is estimated to be 500 billion yuan. The subtext of his remarks is that China’s economy can absorb external shocks created by the trade war; therefore, China is not afraid of Trump’s threats.

Liu’s message is clear: First, China wants a trade deal but on its own terms. Second, pressure on China is counterproductive because it has a large arsenal to fight the trade war and counter U.S. moves.

U.S. options are straightforward: Endure short-term pain, or let the Chinese cancer to erode its free-market economy.

In 1987, China’s trade surplus with the U.S. was only $2.7 billion, one-twentieth of Japan’s. By 2018, the People’s Republic of China’s trade surplus with the U.S. had reached nearly $418 billion, 150 times what it was three decades ago. In the past 30 years, China has snatched an astronomical $4.4 trillion from the U.S. Additionally, there is an estimated $300 billion to $600 billion annual loss from China’s theft, and at least 3 million highly paid U.S manufacturing workers lost their jobs because of competition from China. Chinese government-subsidized or forced labor produced billions of dollars worth of cheap goods that have been dumped onto the U.S. market.

This newly gained wealth has helped China create a dystopian nation, modernize its military into a formidable force, take the South Sea as its inland water, expand its political influence globally, rewrite international laws and norms, export its ideology and development model to developing countries, and contend for dominance in international politics.

The U.S. must confront China’s unfair trade practices, its socialist economic structure, its intellectual property theft, its closed internet markets and other non-trade barriers. To not do so will result in the loss of U.S. position in global affairs, continued domestic economic disruption, and potentially the end of America’s greatness.

Decoupling and disengaging from China will inflict short-term pain and suffering for certain sectors, but our government and allies such as Japan can help ease it or mitigate it.

China’s strategy is to focus on a narrow scope of trade, refuse to discuss other structural problem areas, and delay the trade deal until after the 2020 election. Although it has far less U.S. imports to impose additional tariffs, it will use non-tariff measures to counter the U.S.

Accordingly, the Trump administration must do the opposite. With China currently relying on the U.S. market to keep its faltering economy afloat, Xi has no choice but to accept U.S. terms if Trump stands his ground. This is a rare opportunity for the U.S. that should not be missed.

Bradley A. Thayer is professor of political science at the University of Texas-San Antonio and  the co-author of “How China Sees the World: Han-Centrism and the Balance of Power in International Politics.”

Lianchao Han is vice president of Citizen Power Initiatives for China. After the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, he was one of the founders of the Independent Federation of Chinese Students and Scholars. He worked in the U.S. Senate for 12 years as legislative counsel and policy director for three senators.

EPA Seeks Public Comment on Pesticide Applications for Hemp

It is well known that the growing of industrial hemp became legal under state pilot programs as part of the 2014 federal farm bill and that the 2018 re-authorization of the comprehensive legislation included removal of hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, legalizing hemp for commercial use and production.

It is also an Article of Faith among those who closely follow public policy that it one thing to legislate and another to implement and promulgate regulations for any given piece of legislation.

Such has been the case with hemp.  Issues continue to surface at the federal, state and local level of government that require attention by the emerging industrial hemp sector.  Everything from the need for a viable federal crop insurance program for hemp, to the uncertainty being experienced by the lending community, the evolving market dynamics for this “old yet new again” agricultural commodity have to be addressed.

One salient issue which is in need of regulatory action is the use of pesticides for hemp, which falls under the purview of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  It now appears as though the first incremental steps on this front have taken place wit the announcement by EPA that the agency has received 10 pesticide applications to expand their use on hemp.

According to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler “EPA is taking the next step toward registering crop protection tools for hemp in time for use during the 2020 application and growing seasons.  The Agency is announcing a 30-day public comment period on ten existing pesticide product applications for industrial hemp”.

The evolving market dynamics of commercial industrial hemp and the strong economic forecasts for hemp production in the United States has resulted in pesticide registrants intensifying their interests in garnering crop protection approvals for use on hemp.

Researchers at the University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment have identified a number of weeds, insects, and plant diseases that pose a potential threat to economically viable hemp production.  As part of the process, best management practices for the use of crop protection agents to help control pests in commercial hemp crops will have to be identified and evaluated.

The list of pesticides can be found in prepublication copy of the Federal Register notice. Comments are due 30 days after the notice publishes in the Federal Register.

Once public comments are received, EPA anticipates issuing guidance regarding the possible use of the specified products on hemp before the end of 2019 to help growers make informed purchasing choices for the upcoming growing season. Moving forward, EPA will review, approve or deny applications for use on hemp as the agency would for any other use site.

If you would like additional information regarding this, or any other issue, please contact RDL & Associates at rdlassociatesga@gmail.com.

Issue Update: Industrial Hemp

Dave Ladd, President of RDL & Associates, was recently a guest on the Linder Farm Network to provide an update regarding industrial hemp and emerging issues related to the supply chain from producer to consumer.

The growth of industrial hemp as an alternative crop continues leading to new marketing opportunities throughout the supply chain. Hemp-based products such as cannabidiol (CBD) oil have grown in popularity as natural remedies for pain, nausea, seizures, anxiety and other ailments.

Although hemp-based products like CBD oil are legal and contain little or no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main compound in marijuana that provides a “high”, issues related to these products remain prevalent at all levels of government.

This segment is 2:00 minutes in duration.

For additional information regarding this and other issues, please contact RDL & Associates at rdlassociatesga@gmail.com.