Soy Transportation Coalition Executive Director Mike Steenhoek says he expects resiliency at export terminals in New Orleans that weathered the hurricane, but he also stressed that damage assessments need to be conducted.

Most export facilities were able to resume operations quickly last year, despite an active hurricane season, Steenhoek said.
“We’re certainly hopeful that something like that will occur this year and not be more long-lasting. It really just depends upon the damage assessment that is currently underway,” he said.

Steenhoek noted the region accounts for 61% of soybean and 58% of corn exports.

Judge scraps Trump waters rule

A federal judge in Arizona singled out the impacts of the Trump administration’s navigable waters protection rule on the Southwest in deciding to vacate the rule Monday.

U.S. District Judge Rosemary Márquez noted that since the rule went into effect last year, more than 1,500 streams in Arizona and New Mexico had been deemed “a non-jurisdictional ephemeral resource.” She repeatedly cited concerns expressed by EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers over the rule’s impacts on the nation’s waters.

The Biden administration is gathering input on a new rule to replace last year’s version but has not yet withdrawn it. The government asked the court to remand the rule but allow it to remain in place. Arizona farm groups intervened to defend the NWPR.

The challenge was brought by tribes in Arizona and other states.

USDA seeks applications from intermediary lenders for new heirs’ property program

Intermediary lenders can now apply for loans to participate in USDA’s new Heirs’ Property Relending Program, the department announced Monday.

USDA is encouraging cooperatives, credit unions and nonprofit organizations to submit applications through Oct. 29 for the competitive loans.

Under the program, the Farm Service Agency will loan up to $5 million at 1% interest to eligible lenders, who will reloan funds to heirs to help resolve title issues “by financing the purchase or consolidation of property interests and financing costs associated with a succession plan,” FSA said.

Intermediary lenders should use the HPRP application form (FSA-2637) to apply.

Republicans demand answers from USDA ahead of reconciliation process

Top Republicans on the House and Senate Agriculture committees are asking Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to explain increased nutrition aid spending in the face of unmet needs for producers.

“Despite trillions in federal spending related to COVID and hundreds of billions more being dedicated to non-COVID related programs, U.S. farmers, ranchers, foresters, and rural communities remain vulnerable to the impacts of the pandemic and volatile inflation,” the letter from Sen. John Boozman of Arkansas and Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania said.

Boozman and Thompson say they want answers before key House committees soon begin consideration of the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill.

WTO agrees to panel on China’s grain quotas

The World Trade Organization agreed Monday to a Chinese request for a panel that will evaluate whether the country has adequately reformed its tariff rate quotas for wheat, rice and corn imports, according to Geneva officials.

The U.S. continues to insist that China has failed to make the reforms necessary after a WTO ruling in 2019, but the Chinese are firm in their disagreement.

The U.S. responded, officials said, by pledging to put on hold its request to the WTO to retaliate against China for failing to reform the TRQ process.

“The US said it is willing to work with China to reach a resolution,” a Geneva official said.

Rabo Carbon Bank kicks off pilot program with five farms
Rabo Carbon Bank is launching a pilot program with five farms, which will be compensated for using regenerative agricultural practices to enrich their fields’ soils while capturing carbon from the air. 
Based on agronomic recommendations from Continuum Ag, each farm has committed to implement a combination of practices to increase their soils’ carbon content. Those practices may include reduced or no tillage; cover crops; planting cash crops “green” into living cover crops; more robust crop rotations; precision ag practices; and a transition to natural fertilizer.
The farms participating are in North Carolina, Iowa and Arkansas and grow a variety of crops, including broccoli, corn, cotton, peanuts, potatoes, rice, soybeans, sweet potatoes, tobacco, watermelons and wheat.
Rabobank subsidiary Rabo AgriFinance is facilitating the pilot program.
State ag departments weigh in on USDA’s $500 million plan to expand meat processing

The National Association of State Departments of Agriculture submitted its comments for the USDA’s $500 million investment in expanding meat processing capacity, suggesting that the department work with state governments to increase technical support for processors. 

The organization — representing the Departments of Agriculture in all 50 states, 27 of which have their own state meat and poultry inspection programs for small or very small establishments — wants the USDA to use the $500 million to put more funding toward offsetting employment costs, investing in workforce training programs and offering apprenticeship programs for small processing plants. 

Additionally, NASDA’s public comments called on USDA to look toward “flexible funding structures” for Alaska, Hawaii and the four U.S. territories that are located outside of the mainland. The organization noted that the specialty crop and red meat industries in these states did not “receive the same level of support and have been severely impacted by the COVID-19 market and transportation disruptions.”

Florida again claims ag losses because of Mexico
Florida has again released an analysis showing that cheap Mexican fruit and vegetables continue to unfairly take U.S. market share away from U.S. farmers.
“Our Florida farmers are used to weathering challenges – from hurricanes to invasive species – and they are used to competition,” Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried said in a statement Monday. “But they need timely and effective relief from the federal government to level the playing field, because right now, we know Mexico and others are not fighting fair.”
Farmers in Florida and other states were stung in February when the International Trade Commission ruled that imported blueberries were not a “a substantial cause of serious injury” to U.S. producers.

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