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UC Davis Seed Biotech Center E-Series On-Line Short Courses

Based upon a seed industry-wide survey assessing continuous educational needs during the pandemic, we are launching a set of on-line short courses called the PBA E-Series. This series utilizes an on-line format with the proven teaching models of our in-person courses, which focus on practical application and interaction with experienced instructors.

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E-Series #1: Statistics & Experimental Design
Foundation level designed for plant breeding, product development, 
agronomy and seed professionals

May 18 & 20, 2021 (08:00-12:30 Pacific time, USA)

E-Series #2: Hybrid Breeding Strategies
Designed for plant breeders and their team
May 25 & 27, 2021 (08:00-12:30 Pacific time, USA)
Early-bird registration discount period extended until May 5!
Registration now open

Learn More Here

Bipartisan Group Introduces the PPP Flexibility for Farmers, Ranchers and the Self-Employed Act

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday introduced a bill that would provide more aid through the SBA's Paycheck Protection Program to farmers and ranchers who are in farming partnerships, reports DTN’s Progressive Farmer.

The “PPP Flexibility for Farmers, Ranchers and the Self-Employed Act” would specifically change language the Small Business Administration operates under to allow farmers in partnerships with gross income from self-employment to be eligible to use an alternative gross revenue loan calculation formula.

Farmers in these partnerships would be allowed to use gross income instead of net income from the partnership. The change would allow farmers to have their loans recalculated based on higher gross revenue.

The new definition would state that “gross revenue for members of partnerships” is effectively the person's share of the net earnings from self-employment in the partnership.

If passed, this change would also be retroactive to the passage of the CARES Act on March 27, 2020. This would allow these farmers in partnerships to apply for PPP loans, or increase the amount of approved loans, going back to last year. Borrowers would ask SBA to recalculate the amount covered under the loan and receive a payment.

The bill was introduced by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business, as well as Sens. James Lankford (R-OK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Angus King (I-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Roger Marshall (R-KS).

USTR Puts Vows to Address Environmental Protection in Future Trade Deals

U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said Thursday that environmental protection is going to be a much bigger factor in U.S. trade policy under the Biden administration, saying that the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement didn't go far enough to address environmental concerns.

“The goal is to ensure that we and our trading partners are engaged in fair competition that does not suppress environmental protection,” Tai said in a presentation for an online seminar hosted by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. “The United States has been, and remains, the leader in rewriting trade rules so that they move us toward this model of fair competition.”

“Going forward, trade has a role to play in discouraging the race to the bottom and incentivizing a race to the top,” she said. “We must conserve the resources we do have – and work with our trading partners to do the same – to both mitigate and adapt to climate pressures.”

As the top trade lawyer for the House Ways and Means Committee, Tai helped Democratic lawmakers beef up environmental protection provisions in USMCA reports Agri-Pulse.

Growing Climate Solutions Act Advances out of Senate Agriculture Committee

U.S. Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced the bipartisan Growing Climate Solutions Act, which will break down barriers for farmers and foresters interested in participating in carbon markets so they can be rewarded for climate-smart practices. The bill has broad, bipartisan support from 31 lawmakers and over 60 leading agricultural and environmental organizations.

The Growing Climate Solutions Act creates a certification program at USDA to help solve technical entry barriers that prevent farmer and forest landowner participation in carbon credit markets. These issues – including access to reliable information about markets and access to qualified technical assistance providers and credit protocol verifiers – have limited both landowner participation and the adoption of practices that help reduce the costs of developing carbon credits, say the lawmakers.

To address this, the bill establishes a Greenhouse Gas Technical Assistance Provider and Third-Party Verifier Certification Program through which USDA will be able to “provide transparency, legitimacy, and informal endorsement of third-party verifiers and technical service providers that help private landowners generate carbon credits through a variety of agriculture and forestry related practices” per an accompanying press release sent out by the lawmakers.

White House Launches Drought Relief Working Group

The Biden-Harris administration is forming an interagency working group to address worsening drought conditions in the West, and to support farmers, Tribes, and communities impacted by ongoing water shortages repots Feedstuffs.

The working group will be co-chaired by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture to build upon existing resources to help coordinate across the federal government, working in partnership with state, local, and Tribal governments to address the needs of communities suffering from drought-related impacts.

“Water is a sacred resource. This interagency working group will deliver a much-needed proactive approach to providing drought assistance to U.S. communities, including efforts to build long-term resiliency to water shortages,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. “We are committed to using every resource available to our bureaus to ensure that Tribes, irrigators and the adjoining communities receive adequate assistance and support.”

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack commented, “In the United States, intense droughts threaten major economic drivers in rural communities such as agriculture and recreation, disrupts food systems and water supplies, endangers public health, jeopardizes the integrity of critical infrastructure, and exacerbates wildfires and floods. With our interagency working group, we will collaborate with Tribes, agricultural producers, landowners, and rural communities to build regional resilience to drought.”

Sec. Vilsack said the group will have members from a wide range of expertise, “to make sure that we’re taking a look at the full range and suite of assistance that we can provide to producers.”

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