Tag Archives: Funding

American sheep producers have collected more than $26.6 million in payments from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program according to numbers released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week.

Payments for lambs and yearlings accounted for more than 91 percent ($24,366,284.11) of money paid to the American sheep industry. Producers also benefitted from wool payments – $1,368,303.22 for non-graded wool and $894,354 for graded wool.

“America’s sheep producers are struggling just like everyone else during this difficult time for our country,” said American Sheep Industry Association President Benny Cox. “We thank the Trump Administration, Congress and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for not only recognizing those struggles, but for taking action to assist the industry financially.”

ASI played a key role in showing losses and projected damage – $125 million at the farm gate – within the sheep industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. That information was part of the decision-making process as USDA worked to develop this vital assistance program. And ASI continues to reach out to USDA and congressional supporters to address additional losses within the industry – specifically coverage for replacement and cull ewes. USDA announced this week the addition of a handful of specialty crops not covered in the original program announcement, and it is expected to do the same for livestock in the near future.

As of July 6, the CFAP program had approved 365,262 applications and paid out $5.364 billion to American agricultural producers. Livestock accounted for just more than 50 percent of all CFAP payments at $2.7 billion. USDA releases updated data on CFAP payments each Monday at www.farmers.gov/cfap/data.

 

The House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2021 appropriations bill covering the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Farm Credit Administration, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The committee’s ranking Republican, Kay Granger of Texas, says some of the provisions designed to stop the Trump administration from making reforms could be “poison pills.” Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska also says he’s unhappy with some provisions and the bill’s financing. An amendment from Georgia Democrat Sanford Bishop calls for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to complete an analysis of the latest version of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The analysis is due within a year and would focus on the methodology used, and then would be compared to what the National Academies recommended in 2017. The Hagstrom Report points out that the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s methodologies have been controversial for years. The only other amendment to the appropriations bill gives the FDA legal authority to recall unsafe prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

The agriculture bill and other appropriations bills are expected to be brought to the House floor during the final two weeks of July.

NORFOLK, Neb. – Green Line Equipment, a John Deere dealership with 10 locations in northeast and central Nebraska, has committed $50,000 to the capital campaign to modernize the agriculture education facilities at Northeast Community College in Norfolk.

“We understand the need for modern ag facilities at Northeast,” said Dennis Smydra, Green Line general sales manager, “and Green Line is proud to invest in the future of agriculture in this area.”

Smydra serves as a member of the Ag Advisory Committee at Northeast, providing input on programs and curriculum and helping keep ag education at Northeast relevant.

“We have partnered with the Northeast ag department for many years,” he said. “Green Line has helped Northeast train future farmers and ranchers on cutting edge technology, providing both equipment and staff. We have hired many Northeast students to fill skilled positions at several of our locations.”

Green Line, which is locally owned, is headquartered in Grand Island. The company recently joined with Stutheit Implement and Plains Equipment Group to form AKRS Equipment Solutions. The new dealer will have 27 locations in Nebraska and Kansas and be headquartered in Lincoln.

“The Agriculture & Water Center of Excellence at Northeast Community College will provide a 21st century training facility for future farmers and ranchers and agribusiness employees,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, associate vice president of development and external affairs and executive director of the Northeast Foundation. “These are the young people who will return to the small towns in our 20-county service area to work and raise their families. They will shop on Main Street, send their children to local schools, and keep the communities of northeast Nebraska vital and growing.”

The funding for the new agriculture facilities will come from the College’s commitment of $10 million, as well as external fundraising to fill the gap. With a total project cost of $22.3 million, the College has raised enough funds to begin construction; however, fundraising for the Nexus campaign will continue, as more is needed for equipment, technology and furnishings. Site work on the project began in April and construction on the first phase of construction is expected to be completed by Fall of 2021.

In August 2019, the Acklie Charitable Foundation (ACF) announced a $5 million lead gift to the Nexus project. ACF was founded by the late Duane Acklie and Phyllis Acklie, both Madison County natives and graduates of Norfolk Junior College, a predecessor institution of Northeast Community College.

The American Sheep Industry Association, its state affiliates, the National Lamb Feeders Association and the Public Lands Council sent a letter to congressional leaders this week calling for additional support of the sheep industry in light of disruptions in the lamb and wool marketplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specifically, we are asking that Congress raise the Commodity Credit Corporation’s borrowing authority from the current $30 billion and make funds available immediately to ensure USDA has, with the oversight of Congress, the ability to respond to the needs of our domestic food and fiber producers,” read the letter to the Senate and House majority and minority leaders. “As you are aware, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program developed and administered by the USDA has helped bridge the initial gap caused by the loss of consumer demand and uncertainty in the livestock markets.

“However, the relief USDA has been able to provide was limited due to funding restrictions and therefore only covered producer losses through mid-April with funding provided by the CARES Act. Additionally, CCC funds intended to compensate for on-going market disruptions have proven insufficient. Our industry continues to suffer greatly and USDA’s ability to respond to current and future losses as needed is critical to our producers’ ability to continue to operate through what are easily proving to be the most difficult economic times anyone alive has ever faced.

“Our initial estimated economic impact to the American sheep industry forecasts a loss of at least $353 million in 2020, and it is clear now that we will eclipse that number. We were pleased that lambs and yearlings (less than 2 years of age) and wool were included as eligible commodities under CFAP. Since the release of the program details, we have submitted additional data through the USDA’s Notice of Funds Availability filing in the Federal Register showing that replacement and cull ewes also exceeded the Department’s 5 percent loss threshold for eligibility under CFAP.

“The inclusion of replacement and cull ewes, even under the existing coverage dates, would significantly help our industry move toward recovery. This inventory class makes up nearly two-thirds of our sheep flock. That said, it is clear that to provide coverage to all segments and all regions of a widely diverse agricultural industry, a second (and possibly even subsequent) round of temporary assistance is necessary. Many producers in our industry are only now feeling the full effects of the pandemic’s impact; and as was the case for replacement and cull ewes, we are only now able to quantify those losses with sufficient economic data to meet the USDA’s threshold under CFAP.

“Therefore, we request that additional borrowing authority be made available through the CCC to allow the USDA to extend the CFAP, or similar temporary assistance, as well as any additional funding required to cover losses suffered by American agriculture post the current coverage eligibility; including the 2020 lamb, ewe and wool crops.”