American 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.
On 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.
The 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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Future 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.
Ticks are a nuisance to many, but they can pose a threat to farmers whose livestock are at risk for disease spread by the pests.
Most active in warm weather, ticks typically are prevalent in early spring through the summer and fall. Some can even be spotted in the winter if it’s mild enough.
Below is our final General Assembly update featuring our “smiley-face scorecard.” Thanks for watching!
Veterans 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.
The 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.