PSA Annual Meeting Goes Virtual on February 17, 2021
The PSA 2021 Annual Meeting will be held in a virtual format on February 17th from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm (pst). Registration is required to receive meeting link and the first 75 attendees to register will receive a welcome gift box. The webinar will include all the Association business and updates, annual meeting, committee reports as well as speakers on important topics facing the seed industry. Register in advance for this webinar to receive the link. We encourage all members to join us for the 2021 Annual Meeting and we thank you in advance for your continued support of the Association and our activities.
The Seed Innovation & Protection Alliance (SIPA) Names Eloy Corona as Executive Director
The Seed Innovation & Protection Alliance (SIPA) is pleased to announce that Eloy Corona has been named Executive Director.
“Eloy’s experience will help strengthen our industry’s Intellectual Property alliance and add value to SIPA’s initiatives now and in the future”, says Corinne Marshall, SIPA’s Program Board Chair. “Eloy brings a deep understanding of Intellectual Property and the value of innovation to our industry ensuring he will be a crucial asset to SIPA’s goals and objectives.”
Eloy comes to SIPA with over 25 years of seed industry experience with most of those years focused on intellectual property. As a past SIPA member representative, Eloy has already hit the ground running with a smooth transition as of December 21, 2020.
February 16-18 and Feb 23-25, 2021
8:30 am – 12:30 pm (Pacific time, USA).
This course will be split into 2 weeks, each week with three ½ days, with extended content on crop groups.
As an added bonus for this course, guest speakers bringing decades of hands-on experience are invited to participate! WATCH NOW a short video as course lead instructors talk about curriculum and invited presenters.
Early-Bird discount is extended until January 31, 2021
Another Round of the Paycheck Protection Program Begins
Farmers who run their operations as sole proprietors, independent contractors or otherwise self-employed individuals will have newly expanded access that began Jan. 11 to the Paycheck Protection Program under changes made in the COVID stimulus package Congress approved in December 2020. This latest round of the PPP provides $284B in funding through March 31, 2021 and allows certain existing PPP borrowers to apply for a Second Draw PPP Loan.
All farmers and ranchers who file a Schedule F can apply or reapply for a PPP loan under the new rules once the program reopens. In general, agricultural producers and co-ops with 500 or fewer employees, including employees of businesses with which they have an affiliation, are eligible.
The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, will re-open the PPP loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 9 a.m. EST. The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA.
Producers who were denied PPP loans or whose loan amounts did not consider self-employment compensation may now be eligible. Eligibility information and more details can be found here.
US Ag Exports Top $15 Billion For Second Month in A Row
Bart Kenner, USDA economist, told Feedstuffs the record amount comes below only to November 2013 which led into what turned out to be a record high export year. “It’s not out of the realm of possibility that we might be on track to set a record for exports this year if the trend continues,” Kenner said.
Total agricultural exports to date were $129.9 billion, up from $124.7 billion for the same 11-month period in 2019, an increase of 4%.
USDA Announces Details of the 2021 Agricultural Outlook Forum Program
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced details of the 97th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, which will be held virtually on February 18-19, 2021.
The 2021 Forum, themed “Building on Innovation: A Pathway to Resilience,” will focus on the central role science and innovation have played in helping the agricultural sector overcome challenges and build resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Forum’s program will begin with a presentation by USDA’s new Chief Economist, Dr. Seth Meyer, on the Department’s outlook for U.S. commodity markets and trade for 2021 and the U.S. farm income situation. A keynote address by the incoming Agriculture Secretary, presentations by Congressional leaders, and a session on genetic literacy are also scheduled for the morning on the first day of the Forum.
The 2021 Forum is expected to bring together more than 3,000 participants from the U.S. and around the world, including producers, processors, policymakers, government officials, and nongovernmental organizations. The Forum’s program includes more than 30 sessions and 100 expert speakers.
CRS Issues Report on COVID-19 Aid for Ag Producers
The Congressional Report Service (CRS) released a report on December 21, 2020 examining round two of USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) and analyzing the need for a third round of payments. It noted that most major crop and livestock commodities “have seen their prices increase substantially” since July because of improving market conditions, with the exceptions of beef cattle and dairy.
“If current market conditions were to persist into the first half of 2021, it would appear that price declines would be a possible reason for a new round of CFAP payments for livestock and dairy, but not for row crops,” the report said.
“Because CFAP payments are intended to offset both sales losses due to price declines and higher marketing costs due to supply chain disruptions, a return to normalcy for these two criteria (market prices and supply chain activity) would likely signal an end to the need for federal assistance.”
Final Two Members Added to USMCA Labor Board; USMCA Border Enforcement Begins
The “Independent Mexico Labor Expert Board” created by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) now has a full slate of 12 members. Its job is to monitor and evaluate how well Mexico is implementing its labor reform and complying with its labor obligations under the USMCA. The board also can recommend capacity-building activities needed to support Mexico’s implementation and compliance.
Separately, on December 31, 2020, the “Phase I Implementation” of USMCA came to an end, marking the end of the “self-imposed” restraint from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on enforcing the new USMCA. CBP designed the six-month period to show restraint on USMCA enforcement while providing the trade community time to adjust to the new USMCA requirements. The end of the Phase 1 Implementation signals the agency will start taking enforcement action in 2021.
What’s the future of the USMCA? Notably, there is no incentive or political motivation for the incoming Biden Administration to make major changes to the agreement, instead, expect major developments to focus on the agreement’s enforcement, particularly labor issues as stated above.
Army Corps of Engineers' Finalizes Clean Water Act Changes
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released a pre-publication version of its final reissued and modified streamlined Clean Water Act Section 404 permits, known as “nationwide permits” (NWPs).
The NWPs are reissued every five years and authorize a wide variety of activities such as mooring buoys, residential developments, utility lines, road crossings, mining activities, wetland and stream restoration activities, and commercial shellfish aquaculture activities.
The new NWPs will become effective 60 days after their publication in the Federal Register, though activities authorized under the existing NWPs will continue to be authorized for up to 12 months if construction has begun or is under contract to commence before the new NWPs go into effect.
Environmental organizations and states have already expressed concerns with the new permits, and it is unclear how the incoming administration intends to move forward with the NWP program.
Incoming EPA Administrator Meets with Ag Industry Leaders
EPA Administrator-designate Michael Regan hosted a virtual roundtable with more than 16 members of the Ag CEO Council and staff, composed of leaders of some of the largest agriculture and farm organizations in the U.S. He was joined by incoming Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, Cedric Richmond. During the meeting, Administrator-designate Regan reiterated President-elect Joe Biden’s commitment to working with agricultural leaders to promote healthy and secure food supplies, clean air, and clean water.
They also discussed how the incoming Biden-Harris Administration will work closely with agricultural producers to find practical, common sense solutions to environmental challenges, to create jobs and expand economic opportunities in rural communities through the Build Back Better plan, and to harness the ingenuity of farmers and ranchers to promote clean energy and tackle climate change.
Administrator-designate Regan described his own experiences growing up in eastern North Carolina, and his understanding of the importance of both protecting environmental quality and supporting the economic health of rural communities. The Administrator-designate shared that his grandfather was a small farmer in Bladen County, North Carolina where he planted corn, tobacco, peanuts, and soybeans and also raised pork and poultry.