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Soy Briefs

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For the first time agricultural producers are now eligible for the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. (Photo: Joseph L. Murphy/Iowa Soybean Association)

BARDOLE ECHOES CALLS BY SENS. ERNST, GRASSLEY FOR ADMINISTRATION TO STAND STRONG ON RFS
Sen. Joni Ernst urged President Trump Thursday to stand with farmers and the Renewable Fuel Standard in the face of additional pressures from the oil lobby.

In a letter sent to the White House Thursday, Ernst called on the administration to immediately reject the requests for a waiver of the RFS under Section 211(o)(7) of the Clean Air Act. The wavier was recently received by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from five state governors.

“Biofuels lower fuel prices, create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the new energy economy and provide an important market for farmers,” Ernst penned. “They also cut our reliance on foreign oil, reduce emissions and harmful air pollutants, and provide critical inputs to our food supply.”

SECRETARY PERDUE STATEMENT ON ECONOMIC INJURY DISASTER LOANS BEING AVAILABLE TO U.S. AGRICULTURAL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19 PANDEMIC
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue today applauded the announcement that agricultural producers, for the first time, are now eligible for the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. 

“America’s farmers, ranchers, and producers need the same help that other American businesses need during this unprecedented time,” said Secretary Perdue. “This significant new authority signed by President Trump will make a tremendous difference for America’s agricultural community.”

SBA’s EIDL portal has been closed since April 15. However, the Agency is able to reopen the portal today, in a limited capacity, as a result of funding authorized by Congress through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The legislation, which was signed into law by the President one week ago, provided additional critical funding for farmers and ranchers affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

In order to help facilitate this important change to EIDL Loan and EIDL Advance assistance eligibility, SBA is re-opening the Loan and Advance application portal to agricultural enterprises only. For agricultural producers that submitted an EIDL loan application through the streamlined application portal prior to the legislative change, SBA will move forward and process these applications without the need for re-applying. All other EIDL loan applications that were submitted prior to April 15 will be processed on a first-in, first-out basis. 

For more information, please visit: www.sba.gov/disaster.

NEW OPPORTUNITY FOR IOWA PRAIRIE POTHOLE REGION FARMERS
Row crop farmers in Iowa’s Prairie Pothole Region in northern Iowa have an opportunity through the USDA's new Prairie Pothole Water Quality and Wildlife Program to receive payments on cropped wetlands by protecting flood-prone areas. NRCS staff are accepting applications through May 29. The Prairie Pothole program includes three option levels:

Option Level 1 – Where potholes have been drained, eligible farmers seed down conservation cover and manage it as wetland wildlife habitat for the remaining four years of the contract. The wetland area must be wholly or partially in cropland. The payment rate for Level 1 begins at $390 per acre.

Option Level 2 – In areas where original potholes remain, the producer agrees to cease cropping a two-acre or smaller area and maintain hydrology. Producers receive a five-year contract for wetland wildlife habitat management. The payment rate for Level 2 begins at $367 per acre.

Option Level 3 – In areas where original potholes remain, the producer refrains from harvesting crops or annual vegetation from a two-acre or smaller area during the primary nesting season as identified by the habitat evaluation guide. The payment rate for Level 3 begins at $262 per acre.

USDA ANNOUNCES $100 MILLION FOR AMERICAN BIOFUELS INFRASTRUCTURE
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture intends to make available up to $100 million in competitive grants for activities designed to expand the availability and sale of renewable fuels.

“America’s energy independence is critical to our economic security, and President Trump fully recognizes the importance of our ethanol and biofuels industries and the positive impacts they deliver to consumers and farmers with an affordable, abundant and clean-burning fuel,” Secretary Perdue said. “American ethanol and biofuel producers have been affected by decreased energy demands due to the coronavirus, and these grants to expand their availability will help increase their use during our economic resurgence.”

The Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) consists of up to $100 million in funding for competitive grants or sales incentives to eligible entities for activities designed to expand the sale and use of ethanol and biodiesel fuels. Funds will be made directly available to assist transportation fueling and biodiesel distribution facilities with converting to higher ethanol and biodiesel blends by sharing the costs related to and/or offering sales incentives for the installation of fuel pumps, related equipment and infrastructure.

COMMERCE MAINTAINS DUTIES ON ARGENTINE BIODIESEL
its “changed circumstances review” of antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders on imports of Argentine biodiesel. As a result, the rates on biodiesel imports from Argentina will remain at their current levels. 

Kurt Kovarik, NBB’s VP of Federal Affairs, said, “NBB’s Fair Trade Coalition fought hard for this outcome, and we certainly appreciate Secretary Wilbur Ross and the Trump administration for supporting U.S. biodiesel producers at a critical moment. We are grateful for their consistent willingness to listen to the U.S. biodiesel industry. The Department of Commerce took the time necessary to fully evaluate the status of Argentina’s export tax regime and make the right decision. 

“Also critical to this outcome is the support and leadership of Senators Chuck Grassley and Maria Cantwell along with Representative Darren LaHood. We greatly appreciate their steadfast support for the U.S. biodiesel industry and America’s soybean farmers. U.S. biodiesel producers appreciate their help in amplifying the industry’s push for fair trade conditions.”

FARMERS FEELING THE PAIN AS MORE MEAT PLANTS CLOSE
Tyson warned this week that it expects more meat plant closures this year. The company also said it will continue producing less meat than usual, as workers refrain from coming to work during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We have and expect to continue to face slowdowns and temporary idling of production facilities from team member shortages or choices we make to ensure operational safety," the company said in a statement discussing financial results from the first three months of this year.

The meat processor has shuttered a number of plants in recent weeks as workers fall ill with COVID-19. It's warned that if the closures continue, America's food supply will suffer.

"There will be limited supply of our products available in grocery stores until we are able to reopen our facilities that are currently closed," Board chairman John Tyson warned in a full-page ad that appeared recently in newspapers across the country.

AMERICAN SOYBEAN ASSOCIATION TO LAUNCH MENTAL HEALTH CAMPAIGN
The American Soybean Association (ASA) is launching a campaign to help farmers stay mentally healthy while dealing with COVID-19 and other farm hardships. Farmers are frequently segregated naturally but are currently not able to attend events where they’d be close to others, said Kevin Scott, vice president of the ASA.

“Emotional struggles are not one-size-fits-all,” said Wendy Brannen, ASA Sr. Director of Marketing & Communications. “Our team has researched resources to accommodate an array of individuals and their needs, and how they or their families can seek qualified help – and we are hopeful this campaign can melt away a bit of the stigma that sometimes still exists in talking openly about the tolls of stress and seeking help.”

The #SoyHelp campaign will include social media posts throughout May Mental Health Month as well as expert advice on farm stress and seeking emotional support. Find Iowa resources on our website here.

For media inquiries, permission to republish articles or to request high-res photos, please contact Katie James, ISA Public Relations Manager at kjames@iasoybeans.com. © 2020 Iowa Soybean Association. All rights reserved.