The Rowe Report: Second Round of CFAP Aid Comes at Critical Time for Farmers

Ben Rowe, National Affairs Coordinator

There is a strong chance you are reading this article from the same place that I am writing it: the kitchen table. For farmers, doing paperwork and running their business from the home office or kitchen table isn’t anything new, but for millions of Americans now working from home for the first time, it is quite the transition. The kitchen table is an appropriate place to do some reflecting because, for many Americans, access to the food we serve on those tables hasn’t changed that much. There were some temporary supply-chain disruptions in the late-spring, pick up and home delivery have grown, and income-related hunger issues have been exasperated by the economic crisis, but on the supply side, things look very normal.

Farms are continuing to raise livestock and harvest crops, the supply chain remains resilient, new food assistance programs are helping get food to the needy, and consumer prices are relatively stable despite enormous headwinds. This has not happened by accident. Five months ago, the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) was announced to provide aid to America’s food producers, and this week the federal government announced CFAP2 to ensure farmers remain viable and the abundance and affordability of food persists.

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AITC 2020-21 Grant Deadline Extended Due to Virtual Learning

As educators and students acclimate to a unique school year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia Agriculture in the Classroom is giving educators extra time to apply for educational grants.

“As about 90% of Virginia schools began the school year in a virtual or hybrid model and many with delayed openings, AITC has extended our 2020-21 educator grant deadline,” said Tammy Maxey, Virginia AITC programs director. “Educators need extra time to create new and innovative concepts to integrate agriculture into new classroom settings.”

Instead of a September deadline as in previous years, K-12 educators interested in applying for up to $500 in grant funding have until Oct. 15 to submit applications. 

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Young Agriculturalists to Showcase Livestock at The Meadow Event Park

Youth who raised animals to exhibit at the 2020 State Fair of Virginia will demonstrate their accomplishments at a modified State Fair Youth Livestock Show at The Meadow Event Park in Caroline County.

Following the cancellation of the fair in July, organizers announced that youth livestock competitions would continue at The Meadow this fall. Youth dairy cattle and dairy goat exhibitions will be held Sept. 25 and 26, and 4-H and FFA livestock competitions for beef cattle, meat goats, swine and lambs will be held Oct. 2-4.

The events were organized to uphold the fair’s mission of promoting youth participation in agriculture.

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2020 Presidential and Congressional Candidates Sound Off on Ag Issues

Both American Farm Bureau and Virginia Farm Bureau have published responses to their respective candidate questionnaires on agriculture issues.

For the past 40 years, American Farm Bureau has asked every presidential candidate to provide responses to issues likely to impact and affect farmers and rural communities in the next 4 years. Both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have responded. To view their positions, go here: https://bit.ly/3bXHdQm

While Virginia Farm Bureau Federation AgPAC issues endorsements in state races, it does not endorse congressional candidates during federal election years. Instead, Virginia Farm Bureau sends a questionnaire to all candidates with questions regarding federal agriculture issues. To view the questionnaire and candidate responses, go here: https://bit.ly/35x6sIh

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Virginia allows certain voters to request a ballot by mail. You can also vote in person. Virginia voters can also vote before Election Day. The early voting period runs from Friday, September 18, 2020 to Saturday, October 31, 2020, but dates and hours may vary based on where you live.

For more information, visit https://www.elections.virginia.gov/

Summer of Extremes Leading to Diminished Corn, Soybean Yields

After toiling through a damp planting season and a mid-July drought, Virginia corn and soybean growers are bracing for diminished harvests following an August deluge.

“The season’s been a double punch to farmers because you had all of that extremely wet weather at the beginning just to go into a drought,” said Mike Parrish, a Virginia Cooperative Extension agent in Dinwiddie County.

“Growers have crops that didn’t finish maturing and didn’t fully reach their potential, and now that we’re heading into more rain, it’s going to be another challenge. They’ll just hope they can have a decent harvest and get what little crop is there.”

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Deadline Approaching for USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farmers and ranchers that the deadline to apply for the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is Sept. 11, 2020. This program provides direct relief to producers who faced price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19.

“FSA offers several options for farmers and ranchers to apply for CFAP, including a call center where employees can answer your questions and help you get started on your application,” said Richard Fordyce, Farm Service Agency administrator. “With only two weeks before the deadline, now is the time to check out the resources on our website and contact the call center or your local office for your last-minute questions.” 

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USDA Reminds Farmers of September 30 Deadline to Update Safety-Net Program Crop Yields

USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) reminds farm owners that they have a one-time opportunity to update Price Loss Coverage (PLC) program yields for covered commodities on the farm. The deadline is September 30, 2020, to update yields, which are used to calculate the PLC payments for 2020 through 2023. Additionally, producers who elected Agriculture Risk Coverage (ARC) should also consider updating their yields. 

“The last time farmers could update yields for these important safety-net programs was in 2014,” said FSA Administrator Richard Fordyce. “It is the farm owner’s choice whether to update or keep existing yields. So, if you rent, you’ll need to communicate with your landlord who will be the one to sign off on the yield updates.” 

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Trump Administration Invests $9 Million in High-Speed Broadband in Rural Virginia

The Trump Administration has announced that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $9 million to provide broadband service in unserved and underserved rural areas in Virginia.

“Access to a high-speed internet connection is a cornerstone of prosperity, and unfortunately many of America’s rural communities lack access to this critical infrastructure,” said USDA Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Bette Brand. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to leveraging all available resources and being a strong partner to rural communities in deploying high-speed broadband e-Connectivity to the people, businesses and community facilities that don’t have access yet. Connecting America’s rural communities to this essential infrastructure is one of USDA’s top priorities, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

In rural Virginia, Scott County Telephone Cooperative will use a $9 million grant to deploy a fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) network to connect 7,496 people, 416 farms, 97 businesses, a fire station, a town hall and two educational facilities to high-speed broadband internet in Scott County.

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