Farm Bureau Highlights Immediate Challenges Facing the Agriculture Sector

98604-farmAmerican Farm Bureau has released its first assessment of the impact on farmers and ranchers in the wake of the national mitigation efforts to combat COVID-19.

In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, AFBF President Zippy Duvall pledged that “America’s farmers and ranchers will be with you every step of the way, doing all that we can to help you win this fight and to ensure the health, safety and prosperity of all America.” USDA invited Farm Bureau to convey agricultural issues or concerns arising as the pandemic mitigation efforts and impact advance. Duvall said labor, supply chain issues and possible price manipulation topped the list of immediate issues farmers are raising with the national organization.

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Update on the Impact of COVID-19 on Agricultural Labor

SaundersFarm068On March 16, 2020, the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico announced that in response to COVID-19, routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa services will be suspended starting March 18, 2020, until further notice. The suspension of services includes both visa interviews at the embassy and consulates as well as processing at the Centros de Atención a Solicitantes (CAS). This suspension will impact the arrival of H-2A workers to Virginia agricultural operations.

Visa activities for those who are “interview waiver eligible” will be prioritized by the State Department. Workers eligible for interview waivers include returning H-2A applicants whose visas have expired in the last 12 months and are now applying for the same visa classification and did not require a waiver the last time they applied for a visa. This clarification is an improvement from the original information received from the State Department but does not guarantee full workforce accessibility. It is also unclear at this time how many workers would qualify under this exception en route to Virginia.

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USDA Stands Up New Team to Better Serve Beginning Farmers

GlennDye03The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is standing up a new team of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) staff that will lead a department-wide effort focused on serving beginning farmers and ranchers.

“More than a quarter of producers are beginning farmers,” said USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky. “We need to support the next generation of agricultural producers who we will soon rely upon to grow our nation’s food and fiber.”

To institutionalize support for beginning farmers and ranchers and to build upon prior agency work, the 2018 Farm Bill directed USDA to create a national coordinator position in the agency and state-level coordinators for four of its agencies – Farm Service Agency (FSA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Risk Management Agency (RMA), and Rural Development (RD).

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Farmers: Go Online to Market Your Products with Lulus Local Food

LulusFarmers and farmers markets trying to come up with solutions to continue to serve their customers while practicing social distancing, Lulus Local Food is an eCommerce solution uniquely designed to take farmers markets, farms and farm stands online to reach retail customers.  An innovative cloud-based eCommerce solution designed to simplify online sales, the Lulus program provides online sales, inventory management, financial reporting and marketing to new customers. 

Contact them today and they can have your online market up and running tomorrow. 

Contact them at (804) 980-1173, or 

Waiver Announced For Transporting Essential Supplies or Providing Emergency Restoration of Infrastructure Services

Hammock05The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles has authorized a temporary waiver of registration and licensing requirements for carrier, and the Commissioner of Highways authorizes a temporary waiver of normal weight and width restrictions on roads controlled by the Virginia Department of Transportation, for the express purpose of ensuring that emergency essential supplies and services reach impacted areas in timely manner.
This authorization also applies to water, food, heating oil, motor fuels or propane, or agricultural products, agricultural supplies, livestock and poultry, livestock and poultry feed and forest products, or providing restoration of utilities (including but not limited to electricity, gas, phone, water, wastewater, and cable) or removal of waste to, through, and from any area of the Commonwealth in order to support the COVID-19 response and recovery, regardless of their point of origin or destination.
Please make sure you review the details of this emergency waiver; its intent is for only emergency essentials here:

Planning for the Future Emphasized at Grain and Soybean Conference

Wheat- prettyFuture farm planning and strategy were themes of the Virginia Grain and Soybean Annual Conference earlier this year.

University of Nebraska Harlan Agribusiness Professor Emeritus Dr. Ron Hanson kicked off the event by reminding producers that while nearly 80% of farmers say they want their farms to be passed to their children, only 20% have a succession plan.

“It’s the parent’s responsibility to start the plan,” Hanson told the audience. “Empty chairs at the dinner table happen, so you better have a plan in place.”

Some farm families avoid estate planning because it’s emotionally difficult, and discussions about money, property and land ownership can put family relationships to the test. Secrets and fear of sharing financial information become roadblocks to putting a plan into place.

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Troops Transitioning to Agriculture Can Get Tips at Conference

vetfarm3Veterans and active military personnel interested in post-military careers in farming can learn about available resources during a two-day conference in mid-March.

Virginia State University’s Small Farm Outreach Program and the Veteran Farmer Coalition will host “Boots to Roots” March 17 and 18 at the Gateway Event Center in Colonial Heights.

Opening day seminars will teach veterans how to apply for grants available to retired military personnel and how to utilize resources offered by U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies. Conference attendees also can take a bus tour of Slade Farms in Surry County, which is operated by military veteran and retired Virginia Cooperative Extension agent Clif Slade.

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Acreage Survey Projects Crop Production Increase in 2020

Wheat harvestThe U.S. Department of Agriculture can’t predict the future, but it can make an educated guess with data from prospective planting surveys submitted by the nation’s farmers.

Intentional acreage reports––a collection of annual surveys asking farmers how many acres of specific crops they intend to plant––will be merged into a comprehensive report to be released on March 31. The USDA National Agriculture Statistics Service’s report will help speculators predict how many acres of crops will be planted this year and aid commodity traders in setting prices.

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