Aug 31, 2021USDA alters Coronavirus Food Assistance Program
The USDA recently announced that 2018 sales can be substituted for 2019 sales by producers seeking to access assistance under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program 2 (CFAP 2).
This program is the direct payment program originally rolled out to growers in the Fall of 2020 that provided a payment of approximately 10% of the whole farm’s 2019 sales.
The announcement this week allows 2018 sales to be substituted for 2019 sales and also allows support that growers may have received from crop insurance payments or other disaster relief such as the Wildfire Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) to be combined, in either year, with actual sales to determine the farm’s total sales.
“Though the original CFAP 2 plan has provided substantial relief to growers across the country, having 2019 actual sales as the only reference for calculating relief was clearly a flaw. USDA’s announcement this week is very welcome flexibility for growers who may have had their 2019 crop unusually impaired,” said National Potato Council (NPC) President Dominic LaJoie of Van Buren, Maine.
NPC is working with USDA to gather details on how growers who have already applied for relief using 2019 sales to instead switch to 2018 if it is more beneficial. The deadline for applying to the Farm Service Agency for the amended program is Oct. 12, 2021.
EPA to review neonicotinoids
On Aug. 26, EPA released Draft Biological Evaluations (BEs) for imidacloprid (active in Admire), clothianidin (active in Belay), and thiamethozam (active in Cruiser/Platinum), which are part of a group of insecticides known as the neonicotinoids, for public review and comment.
The draft BEs released were developed after the release of EPA’s proposed interim decisions (PIDs) for the neonicotinoid pesticides in January 2020. As part of the PIDs, EPA has begun the process of proposing mitigation measures, such as annual application rate reductions and application timing restrictions under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, which will be finalized after the completion of the final BEs.
Additional mitigation measures may be developed through formal consultation on the neonicotinoid pesticides. EPA is interested in finding ways, through discussions with stakeholders, to implement mitigation measures that further protect endangered and threatened species earlier in the Endangered Species Act (ESA) consultation process.
“This is the beginning of the ESA evaluation process for these key products to the potato industry. It is important for the potato industry to share with EPA information on the actual use of these products including economic impacts and practices used to minimize environmental impacts,” said Bob Mattive, NPC VP of Environmental Affairs.
NPC is reviewing the documents and developing comments where appropriate related to the Biological Evaluations.
Read the draft biological evaluations for clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam. To learn more about these BEs, see the Frequently Asked Questions. The EPA is accepting public comments for 60 days upon publication via docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2021-0575 at www.regulations.gov, and will finalize the BEs after reviewing the comments.
NPC urges status quo on small-farm OSHA rules
NPC joined a letter to Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) and Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) of the Senate Committee on Appropriations to maintain language in the FY2022 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies bill that limits OSHA enforcement on farms with fewer than 10 employees.
In the letter, the group writes: “American farmers continue to face challenges as they try to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic and cannot withstand major departures from longstanding policies that govern their farms and employment relationships.
“Since 1976, Congress has included language to limit OSHA enforcement on farms with fewer than ten employees. It is critical to maintain the current prohibition as small farms should not be subjected to burdensome enforcement activities intended for larger scale operations.”
The full letter can be found here.
Salazar named ambassador to Mexico
Former Colorado Senator and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has been sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. His appointment comes at a particularly sensitive time, as the U.S. government has been pressing Mexico to reinstate access for fresh U.S. potatoes to the entire country after a unanimous Supreme Court ruling in April.
“Ambassador Salazar has a deep understanding of agricultural trade with Mexico and the potato issue specifically. The National Potato Council strongly supported his nomination and we are very pleased to have seen his rapid confirmation and swearing in this month,” said Jared Balcom, NPC V.P. of Trade Affairs.
USDA and USTR have held several cabinet level meetings with Mexico, in addition to numerous technical meetings since the Mexican Supreme Court ruling. However, the powerful Mexican potato cartel “CONPAPA” continues to exert political pressure to slow the regulatory process that would allow U.S. fresh potatoes to have their full access restored.
NPC wary of House reconciliation talks
The House of Representatives adopted an FY22 budget resolution and will now begin considering a $3.5 trillion reconciliation package. The budget resolution was adopted on a party line 220-212 vote after several days of negotiations between House Democratic leaders and a group of 10 moderate Democratic members, who argued the House should have taken up the Senate-passed infrastructure package before moving onto the reconciliation package.
The group of moderate Democrats, led by Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-New Jersey), secured an agreement with Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the infrastructure package will be voted on no later than Sept. 27. The extension of the surface transportation authorizations is set to expire Oct. 1. Democratic leaders have set Sept. 15 as the deadline for committees to report their respective pieces of the reconciliation package.
NPC anticipates that attempts will be made to use this process of “reconciling” differences between current spending and the new budget resolution to also change federal policy in areas such as immigration and tax reform.
“NPC continues to strongly oppose efforts to undermine or eliminate beneficial tax provisions that family farms rely upon to maintain their competitiveness,” said RJ Andrus, NPC VP of Government Affairs.
— National Potato Council