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USDA assists farmers, ranchers, and communities affected by recent wildfires WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today the availability of assistance for agricultural producers affected by the recent wildfires to help eligible farmers and ranchers reestablish their operations. “USDA is ready to offer all the assistance we can to the affected farmers, ranchers and communities to help them recover,” said Bill Northey, USDA under secretary for farm production and conservation. “As a farmer myself, I’m proud to be able to deliver on our most important mission to support them in their time of need.” As of Tuesday, wildfires have burned more than 2 million acres, mostly in the western states. Nearly 28,000 personnel from the local, state and federal levels are responding to 157 separate incidents, 95 of which are large, uncontained fires. “Right now, more than 6,000 firefighters from the USDA Forest Service are battling wildfires across the nation alongside our local, state and federal partners,” USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Jim Hubbard said. “Our aggressive initial attack efforts have proven incredibly proficient in protecting the American people and our lands as crews continue to face unrelenting challenges such as high winds and dry lightning.”

In a continuing effort to serve the American people, USDA partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center available online at https://www.usda.gov/topics/disaster . This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledge base of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance. USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool, online at https:// www.farmers.gov/recover/disaster-tool#step-1 , specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues. The tool walks producers through five questions that generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover from a natural disaster. When major disasters strike, USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. USDA’s emergency loan program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the secretary of agriculture or a natural disaster or emergency is declared by the president under the Stafford Act. USDA also offers additional programs tailored to the needs of specific agricul-

tural sectors to help producers weather the financial impacts of major disasters and rebuild their operations.

Helping producers weather financial impacts of disasters Livestock owners and contract growers who experience above normal livestock deaths due to specific weather events, as well as to disease or animal attacks, may qualify for assistance under USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program. Livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to a qualifying drought condition or fire on federally managed land during the normal grazing period for a county may qualify for help through USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program. Producers of noninsurable crops who suffer crop losses, lower yields or are prevented from planting agricultural commodities may be eligible for assistance under USDA's Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program if the losses were due to natural disasters. Helping operations recover after disasters USDA also can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural

disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters and other causes. Farmers and ranchers needing to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters can apply for assistance through USDA’s Emergency Conservation Program. USDA also has assistance available for eligible private forest landowners who need to restore forestland damaged by natural disasters through the Emergency Forest Restoration Program. USDA's Emergency Watershed Protection Program also can help relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by flood, fires and other natural disasters that impair a watershed. Orchardists and nursery tree growers may be eligible for assistance through USDA’s Tree Assistance Program to help replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters. People can visit USDA's disaster resources website to learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response. For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, people can contact their local USDA Service Center. To find your local USDA Service Center people can go to http:// farmers.gov/service-center-locator .

www.havredailynews.com What’s changed Belasco said he’s noticed a significant shift in the sources people typically use to get their meat amid the pandemic, often looking to more local sources. However, he said, the current infrastructure of the agriculture market may not allow this change to become as dramatic as it could. “My observation is that I’ve seen a lot of people buying from ranches and leaning on those regional food systems,” he said adding, “But that capacity can only go so far. I mean, there’s only so much that we can process in Montana before you hit a bottleneck.” Belasco said this shift is mainly being seen in middle- to higher-income households, and there is also the possibility that the recession resulting from the pandemic might also limit this potential shift. He said it’s still very much an open question, “What does post-COVID ag look like?” Belaso said there is still a lack of hard data and much of his observation is ultimately based on anecdotal evidence in lieu of anything else. He said he’s inclined to think there will

FARM & RANCH be at least some lasting effect from COVID on the popularity of local food sources. “It’s very much an open discussion, and it’s an interesting topic,” he said. “What are the short impacts, and what are the longer-term impacts that we’ve seen so far?” He said he’s particularly interested in the effect it will have on restaurants in the long-term. “It’s hard to imagine a worse scenario than a supply and a demand shock happening together, but I don’t know if the demand shock is quite over yet. I mean, will restaurants ever be the same?” he said. Belasco said the pandemic seems to have accelerated a 20-year trend of customers in the U.S. moving toward fast food rather than traditional restaurants, and he wonders what kind of effect that accelerated trend will have on the beef market. He also said international trade in agriculture, while it has seen setbacks, has not seen any major changes. But he worries that the pandemic might lead to a future in which the U.S. is less inclined to expand

USDA to invest up to $360 million in partner-driven conservation Application period has opened for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program Press release WA S H I N GTO N — U S DA’s N a t u ra l Resources Conservation Service has invited potential conservation partners to submit project applications for federal funding t h r o u g h t h e Re g i o n a l C o n s e r va t i o n Partnership Program or RCPP. NRCS will award up to $360 million dollars to locally driven, public-private partnerships that improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. “RCPP brings an expanded approach to investing in natural resource conservation that empowers local communities to work with multiple partners and agricultural producers to design solutions that work best for them,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. Partners may request between $250,000 and $10 million in RCPP funding through this funding announcement. Partners are expected to offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding in an amount equal or greater to the NRCS investment. Eligible lead partners are encouraged to apply. Funding is open to private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments, water

districts and universities, among others. The full list of eligible entities is available in the RCPP funding announcement. First authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP has combined nearly $1 billion in NRCS investments with close to $2 billion in non-NRCS dollars to implement conservation practices across the nation. There are 336 active RCPP projects that have engaged more than 2,000 partners. Successful RCPP projects provide innovative conservation solutions, leverage partner contributions and offer impactful and measurable outcomes. NRCS requested public comment on the RCPP Critical Conservation Areas and their associated priority resource concerns as part of a review allowed by the Farm Bill once every five years. This funding announcement introduces CCA changes that resulted from the review: • The California Bay-Delta and Columbia River Basin CCAs have been combined into the Western Waters CCA, which also encompasses the Klamath River Basin and the Puget Sound Basin. • A new CCA — Northeast Forests and Waters — has been added to the roster. This CCAs priority resource concerns include water quality and wildlife habitat. The b o u n d a r i e s o f t h e C CA e n c o m p a s s Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. USDA is now accepting proposals for RCPP through the RCPP portal at https:// nrcs-sites.secure.force.com . Proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time November 4, 2020. For more information, people can view the Application for Program Funding at http://grants.gov . For more information on RCPP, people can visit the RCPP website.

trade with other countries out of fear. What’s the same Belasco said, despite some changes in retail, the production side of the agriculture has remained mostly the same. “I think the majority of changes have been on the retail side,” he said. He said he suspects, despite recent interest in local production, operations for producers have likely not changed all that much, particularly in Montana which has not been hit as hard by the pandemic as many other states. Mattson said his day-to-day operations require a bit more planning because of the pandemic, but for the most part it’s business as usual. Belasco said the market hasn’t been without its problems, however. In past months there were issues with beef producers seeing backups in their feed lots due to meat processors having trouble adjusting to the pandemic, with workers being afraid to come back to the plants for fear of the virus.

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But, Belasco said, the plants have adapted relatively well and, since the initial concern, processing plants have mostly been brought back into production and the problem appears to have more or less stabilized. Belasco said nobody really knows what the long-term effects of the pandemic will be on agriculture, but discussions are being had among himself and his fellow economists that interest him, mainly if the pandemic has exposed the industry’s lack of flexibility or its strength. “There’s been this whole conversation about, ‘Has the coronavirus shown the agriculture system to be too rigid?’” he said. He said some have argued that the pandemic has revealed a lack of flexibility within the industry, while individual producers have found ways to adapt, the industry as a whole has barely changed. However, Belasco said, he’s inclined to say that the pandemic has shown how resilient the industry is, being that food is still getting where it needs to even amid a dramatic shock to the system.


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Uncertain: Charlton: Economist will have better picture of labor as more data comes in ■ Continued from page 7 stretch. “There are places where the rains hit just about perfect for them, but it’s kinda spotty,” she said. Unfortunately, it appears sawflies are not the only insect giving ag producers trouble this year. “People in the southern part of the county are being hurt by grasshoppers,” she said. Labor Another potential issue agriculture producers, and the industry at large, are facing is complications related to labor. MSU Assistant Professor of Agricultural Production, Labor and Development Economics Diane Charlton expressed concern early in the pandemic that the U.S. could face a labor shortage when it comes to agriculture because so many workers in the industry are foreign born. She said there isn’t a lot of data on the subject but based on what she has observed labor shortage hasn’t been a significant concern since then, at least in Montana. She said the number of H2A Temporary Guest Worker Visas, which account for much of the foreign-born labor in Montana, have been at about the same levels in the past months this year as compared to last year despite a small dip in March and April. However, she said general anxiety

regarding outbreaks among agriculture workers is still out there. “In the early days of the pandemic there were questions about what workers were considered essential. … Immigration has remained open to essential workers, so those areas of uncertainty have been somewhat alleviated, but I think there is still a lot of uncertainty about outbreaks,” she said, “I think operators are still working under a lot of anxiety.” Charlton said she’s seen some interesting techniques used by agriculture producers to keep worker’s safe, like making more trips to space people better while transporting workers, staggering breaks to decrease congregation and keeping people in the same teams when working to limit contacts and potential spread, in addition to adding more housing for workers who require quarantine. Charlton said she thinks this anxiety regarding outbreaks and the expenses involved in taking the proper precautions to keep workers safe, depending on how long the pandemic lasts, may cause producers to cut back on hiring in the future. She said these effects likely wouldn’t be as bad in Montana as states with more specialty crops, however. Charlton also said she had concerns about the health care of agriculture workers, many of whom she said don’t know that there are health resources for them

out there, or are afraid to make use of them due to not being properly authorized to work in the U.S., or the fear that people will assume they are not authorized. She said there are four clinics in Montana specifically for farm workers and they charge based on income and ability to pay. Charlton said this is particularly important because agriculture workers, many of whom are Hispanic, tend to work very long hours and are less likely to stop working when they get sick. She said studies have shown that

Hispanics in the U.S. catch COVID-19 at higher rates and tend to have more severe symptoms then white people and its possible that the conditions they tend to work in, like in agriculture, may contribute to this, but more work would need to be done if a causal relationship is to be established. She said economists will have more information on the labor situation in the coming months, in a year they’ll have a far clearer picture, and as time goes on that data may provide insights into the future.

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Upcoming FSA deadlines listed

Staff and wire Montana FSA has a list of upcoming deadlines presented on its webpage at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/ Montana . The dates include: Sept. 13: Last day of 2020 CRP summer/ fall managed grazing period, prior approval required Sept. 30: Last day of 2020 CRP summer/ fall managed haying period, prior approval

required Sept. 30: Deadline to update Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payment yields Sept. 30: 2021 NAP application for coverage deadline for annual fall-seeded crops, perennial forage and grazing, mixed forage crops including spring seeded annual types of mixed forage, rye, speltz, triticale, wheat and garlic Oct. 12: First day of 2021 Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) signup

Nov. 1: Last day of 2020 CRP summer/fall non-emergency grazing period, prior approval required Early November: 2020 County Committee Election Ballots to be Mailed to Voters Nov. 16: 2021 Acreage Reporting Deadline for Apiculture, fall wheat (hard red winter), and all other fall-seeded small grains. Take note that this is the final date that FSA can accept late-filed 2020 reports for these crops. Dec. 1: 2021 NAP coverage application

closing date for honey Dec. 7: Voted FSA County Committee election ballots due to FSA Dec. 11: Last day of 2021 dairy margin coverage signup Ongoing: Contact FSA right away for notice of loss deadlines and disaster program requirements. For more information, people can contact their local FSA office and visit  http://www. farmers.gov .

USDA announces changes to emergency haying and grazing provisions From Montana Farm Service Agency BOZEMAN — The U.S. Department of A g r i c u l t u re ’s Fa r m S e r v i c e A ge n cy announced changes for emergency haying and grazing use of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. This includes changes outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill that streamlines the authorization process for farmers and ranchers. “Drought conditions are tough for our livestock producers, but emergency haying and grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program acres provides temporary relief to these producers,” said Mike Foster, FSA state executive director in Montana. “Thanks to a streamlined authorization process, Montana producers will be able to more quickly obtain emergency use approval to begin emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres.” Program changes Previously, emergency haying and grazing requests originated with FSA at the county level and required state and national level approval. Now approval will be based on drought severity as determined by the U.S. Drought Monitor, available online at https:// droughtmonitor.unl.edu . As of this release, six counties in Montana have triggered eligibility for emergency haying and grazing on CRP acres. A  list by state and map of eligible counties are updated weekly and available on FSA’s website. Producers located in a county that is designated as severe drought — D2 — or greater on or after the last day of the primary nesting season are eligible for emergency haying and grazing on all eligible acres. Additionally, producers located in counties that were in a D2 severe drought status any single week during the last eight weeks of the primary nesting season may also be eligible for emergency haying and grazing unless the FSA County Committee determines that forage conditions no longer warrant emergency haying and grazing.  Counties that trigger for Livestock Forage Disaster Program  payments based on the U.S. Drought Monitor may hay only certain practices on less than 50 percent of eligible contract acres. Producers should contact their local FSA county office for eligible CRP practices. Producers who don’t meet the drought monitor qualifications but have a 40 percent loss of forage production may also be eligible for emergency haying and grazing outside of the primary nesting season. CRP emergency haying and grazing provisions

Before haying or grazing eligible acres, producers must submit a request for CRP emergency haying or grazing to FSA and obtain a modified conservation plan from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Emergency grazing is authorized for up to 90 days and emergency haying is authorized for up to 60 days. Program participants must stop haying and grazing 30 days before the first freeze date in the fall based on the dates established for LFP. Under the emergency grazing provisions, producers can use the CRP acreage for their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage. The eligible CRP acreage is limited to acres located within the approved county. For emergency haying, producers are limited to one cutting and are permitted to

sell the hay. Participants must remove all hay from CRP acreage within 15 days after baling and remove all livestock from CRP acreage no later than 1 day after the end of the emergency grazing period. There will be no CRP annual rental payment reduction for emergency haying and grazing authorizations. More information For more information on CRP emergency haying and grazing, people can visit http:// fsa.usda.gov/crp or contact their FSA county office. To locate their FSA office, people can visit http://farmers.gov/service-locator . For more disaster recovery assistance programs, people can visit http://farmers.gov/recover . All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to

visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All service center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other service center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors may also be required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. Program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with producers in office, by phone and using online tools. More information can be found at http:// farmers.gov/coronavirus .


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Wheat, COVID-19, labor, and uncertainty Patrick Johnston pjohnston@havredailynews.com In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic made its arrival in the United States the agriculture market has been in a state of relative uncertainty, and while that uncertainty appears to have dissipated in some sectors for agriculture, it hasn’t in others. Under pressure Eric Belasco, a professor at Montana S t a t e U n i ve r s i t y ’s D e p a r t m e n t o f Agricultural Economics and Economics said there is still some time before the big picture of how COVID-19 has affected the agriculture economy becomes clearer, there are some indications that the retail side of the agriculture has seen some of the pressure come off. “On the retail side some of that anxiety has settled down,” Belasco said. He said the panic that was pervasive during the early months of the pandemic is gone and retailers have a much better idea of how things have shifted in terms of what customers are looking for during this time. People are cooking more at home, he said, and even as many parts of the country are allowing restaurants to open there is still a much higher demand for products, particularly beef products, better suited for home cooking while the demand for products mainly used in restaurant settings is still fairly low. He said some prices in the agriculture market have come back somewhat after many became very volatile in the opening months of the pandemic, with feeder cattle prices almost back where they were in January. “I think the volatility is lower than it was in April. There seems to be a bit more optimism,” he said, “… that just wasn’t there in April.” Belasco said this alleviated anxiety may not be evenly distributed among all sectors of the market.

Combines work into the night to harvest wheat north of Gildford in mid-August 2011.

This has certainly proved true for Owner and General Manager of Paragon Grains Inc. Vince Mattson, who, like Belasco was interviewed about the state of the agriculture economy back in April. He said on his end things haven’t gotten better. “Nothing really has improved since we talked last time,” he said. “It’s all kinda still waiting in limbo and everybody’s just waiting to see what’s going to happen here.” He said this continued uncertainty is

still very stress inducing, particularly with the normal pressures of the harvest. Mattson said this is particularly true for those in the barley industry which saw significant setbacks amid the pandemic, causing product to pile up undistributed, although, he said things have gotten a bit better recently. Weather and the harvest Despite this anxiety, thought, he said this harvest has been going relatively well so far for him. “Harvest conditions are perfect, we’re on our 22nd harvest day strait which is very unusual,” he said. Mattson said he usually gets a rainy day or two that breaks things up, and while that lack of interruption is good for the harvest the drought the surrounding area has been experiencing makes him wish for a bit of rain eventually. “It is super, super dry and fire danger is extremely high, so we’re hoping for some rain in the next couple weeks,” he said. “… I’d like to finish harvest first, but I’ll take what I can get.” CHS Big Sky’s Havre Grain Manager Lance Johnson said yields so far this year are down a bit due to the drought and sawflies in the area have not been helping either. Havre Daily News/file photo Gary Gregoire harvests his winter wheat Aug. 4, 2011, south of Havre.

Havre Daily News/file photo

“They’ve been worse this year, we’ve seen a lot of damage from sawflies,” he said. He said wheat moisture is pretty low, but not problematically so, and protein content on winter wheat is higher than average. Johnson also said the area has seen some hail damage but nothing extreme. Mattson also didn’t have many personal problems with hail damage but some other wheat producers in his area have had far less fortune. “Our farm just missed it, but west of us, western Liberty County, eastern Toole County … it was completely devastating, just 100 percent wipeout,” he said. Ede Breitmeier of the Farm Service Agency’s Blaine County Office said her county, based on the few reports she’s gotten so far, has seen some significant variation in this year’s harvest. She said she’s heard some reports of hail damage and the drought hasn’t led to much damage. However, she said she’s heard that recrop yields in the county have been down significantly in certain areas due to a lack of precipitation. “Those crops are really suffering because they didn’t save any of the moisture from last year, and this year has just not been enough,” she said. However, she said the effects of the drought have not been countywide by any

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Wheat, COVID-19, labor, and uncertainty Patrick Johnston pjohnston@havredailynews.com In the months since the COVID-19 pandemic made its arrival in the United States the agriculture market has been in a state of relative uncertainty, and while that uncertainty appears to have dissipated in some sectors for agriculture, it hasn’t in others. Under pressure Eric Belasco, a professor at Montana S t a t e U n i ve r s i t y ’s D e p a r t m e n t o f Agricultural Economics and Economics said there is still some time before the big picture of how COVID-19 has affected the agriculture economy becomes clearer, there are some indications that the retail side of the agriculture has seen some of the pressure come off. “On the retail side some of that anxiety has settled down,” Belasco said. He said the panic that was pervasive during the early months of the pandemic is gone and retailers have a much better idea of how things have shifted in terms of what customers are looking for during this time. People are cooking more at home, he said, and even as many parts of the country are allowing restaurants to open there is still a much higher demand for products, particularly beef products, better suited for home cooking while the demand for products mainly used in restaurant settings is still fairly low. He said some prices in the agriculture market have come back somewhat after many became very volatile in the opening months of the pandemic, with feeder cattle prices almost back where they were in January. “I think the volatility is lower than it was in April. There seems to be a bit more optimism,” he said, “… that just wasn’t there in April.” Belasco said this alleviated anxiety may not be evenly distributed among all sectors of the market.

Combines work into the night to harvest wheat north of Gildford in mid-August 2011.

This has certainly proved true for Owner and General Manager of Paragon Grains Inc. Vince Mattson, who, like Belasco was interviewed about the state of the agriculture economy back in April. He said on his end things haven’t gotten better. “Nothing really has improved since we talked last time,” he said. “It’s all kinda still waiting in limbo and everybody’s just waiting to see what’s going to happen here.” He said this continued uncertainty is

still very stress inducing, particularly with the normal pressures of the harvest. Mattson said this is particularly true for those in the barley industry which saw significant setbacks amid the pandemic, causing product to pile up undistributed, although, he said things have gotten a bit better recently. Weather and the harvest Despite this anxiety, thought, he said this harvest has been going relatively well so far for him. “Harvest conditions are perfect, we’re on our 22nd harvest day strait which is very unusual,” he said. Mattson said he usually gets a rainy day or two that breaks things up, and while that lack of interruption is good for the harvest the drought the surrounding area has been experiencing makes him wish for a bit of rain eventually. “It is super, super dry and fire danger is extremely high, so we’re hoping for some rain in the next couple weeks,” he said. “… I’d like to finish harvest first, but I’ll take what I can get.” CHS Big Sky’s Havre Grain Manager Lance Johnson said yields so far this year are down a bit due to the drought and sawflies in the area have not been helping either. Havre Daily News/file photo Gary Gregoire harvests his winter wheat Aug. 4, 2011, south of Havre.

Havre Daily News/file photo

“They’ve been worse this year, we’ve seen a lot of damage from sawflies,” he said. He said wheat moisture is pretty low, but not problematically so, and protein content on winter wheat is higher than average. Johnson also said the area has seen some hail damage but nothing extreme. Mattson also didn’t have many personal problems with hail damage but some other wheat producers in his area have had far less fortune. “Our farm just missed it, but west of us, western Liberty County, eastern Toole County … it was completely devastating, just 100 percent wipeout,” he said. Ede Breitmeier of the Farm Service Agency’s Blaine County Office said her county, based on the few reports she’s gotten so far, has seen some significant variation in this year’s harvest. She said she’s heard some reports of hail damage and the drought hasn’t led to much damage. However, she said she’s heard that recrop yields in the county have been down significantly in certain areas due to a lack of precipitation. “Those crops are really suffering because they didn’t save any of the moisture from last year, and this year has just not been enough,” she said. However, she said the effects of the drought have not been countywide by any

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Uncertain: Charlton: Economist will have better picture of labor as more data comes in ■ Continued from page 7 stretch. “There are places where the rains hit just about perfect for them, but it’s kinda spotty,” she said. Unfortunately, it appears sawflies are not the only insect giving ag producers trouble this year. “People in the southern part of the county are being hurt by grasshoppers,” she said. Labor Another potential issue agriculture producers, and the industry at large, are facing is complications related to labor. MSU Assistant Professor of Agricultural Production, Labor and Development Economics Diane Charlton expressed concern early in the pandemic that the U.S. could face a labor shortage when it comes to agriculture because so many workers in the industry are foreign born. She said there isn’t a lot of data on the subject but based on what she has observed labor shortage hasn’t been a significant concern since then, at least in Montana. She said the number of H2A Temporary Guest Worker Visas, which account for much of the foreign-born labor in Montana, have been at about the same levels in the past months this year as compared to last year despite a small dip in March and April. However, she said general anxiety

regarding outbreaks among agriculture workers is still out there. “In the early days of the pandemic there were questions about what workers were considered essential. … Immigration has remained open to essential workers, so those areas of uncertainty have been somewhat alleviated, but I think there is still a lot of uncertainty about outbreaks,” she said, “I think operators are still working under a lot of anxiety.” Charlton said she’s seen some interesting techniques used by agriculture producers to keep worker’s safe, like making more trips to space people better while transporting workers, staggering breaks to decrease congregation and keeping people in the same teams when working to limit contacts and potential spread, in addition to adding more housing for workers who require quarantine. Charlton said she thinks this anxiety regarding outbreaks and the expenses involved in taking the proper precautions to keep workers safe, depending on how long the pandemic lasts, may cause producers to cut back on hiring in the future. She said these effects likely wouldn’t be as bad in Montana as states with more specialty crops, however. Charlton also said she had concerns about the health care of agriculture workers, many of whom she said don’t know that there are health resources for them

out there, or are afraid to make use of them due to not being properly authorized to work in the U.S., or the fear that people will assume they are not authorized. She said there are four clinics in Montana specifically for farm workers and they charge based on income and ability to pay. Charlton said this is particularly important because agriculture workers, many of whom are Hispanic, tend to work very long hours and are less likely to stop working when they get sick. She said studies have shown that

Hispanics in the U.S. catch COVID-19 at higher rates and tend to have more severe symptoms then white people and its possible that the conditions they tend to work in, like in agriculture, may contribute to this, but more work would need to be done if a causal relationship is to be established. She said economists will have more information on the labor situation in the coming months, in a year they’ll have a far clearer picture, and as time goes on that data may provide insights into the future.

www.havredailynews.com

FARM & RANCH

September 2020

5

Upcoming FSA deadlines listed

Staff and wire Montana FSA has a list of upcoming deadlines presented on its webpage at https://www.fsa.usda.gov/state-offices/ Montana . The dates include: Sept. 13: Last day of 2020 CRP summer/ fall managed grazing period, prior approval required Sept. 30: Last day of 2020 CRP summer/ fall managed haying period, prior approval

required Sept. 30: Deadline to update Price Loss Coverage (PLC) payment yields Sept. 30: 2021 NAP application for coverage deadline for annual fall-seeded crops, perennial forage and grazing, mixed forage crops including spring seeded annual types of mixed forage, rye, speltz, triticale, wheat and garlic Oct. 12: First day of 2021 Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) signup

Nov. 1: Last day of 2020 CRP summer/fall non-emergency grazing period, prior approval required Early November: 2020 County Committee Election Ballots to be Mailed to Voters Nov. 16: 2021 Acreage Reporting Deadline for Apiculture, fall wheat (hard red winter), and all other fall-seeded small grains. Take note that this is the final date that FSA can accept late-filed 2020 reports for these crops. Dec. 1: 2021 NAP coverage application

closing date for honey Dec. 7: Voted FSA County Committee election ballots due to FSA Dec. 11: Last day of 2021 dairy margin coverage signup Ongoing: Contact FSA right away for notice of loss deadlines and disaster program requirements. For more information, people can contact their local FSA office and visit  http://www. farmers.gov .

USDA announces changes to emergency haying and grazing provisions From Montana Farm Service Agency BOZEMAN — The U.S. Department of A g r i c u l t u re ’s Fa r m S e r v i c e A ge n cy announced changes for emergency haying and grazing use of acres enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. This includes changes outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill that streamlines the authorization process for farmers and ranchers. “Drought conditions are tough for our livestock producers, but emergency haying and grazing use of Conservation Reserve Program acres provides temporary relief to these producers,” said Mike Foster, FSA state executive director in Montana. “Thanks to a streamlined authorization process, Montana producers will be able to more quickly obtain emergency use approval to begin emergency haying or grazing of CRP acres.” Program changes Previously, emergency haying and grazing requests originated with FSA at the county level and required state and national level approval. Now approval will be based on drought severity as determined by the U.S. Drought Monitor, available online at https:// droughtmonitor.unl.edu . As of this release, six counties in Montana have triggered eligibility for emergency haying and grazing on CRP acres. A  list by state and map of eligible counties are updated weekly and available on FSA’s website. Producers located in a county that is designated as severe drought — D2 — or greater on or after the last day of the primary nesting season are eligible for emergency haying and grazing on all eligible acres. Additionally, producers located in counties that were in a D2 severe drought status any single week during the last eight weeks of the primary nesting season may also be eligible for emergency haying and grazing unless the FSA County Committee determines that forage conditions no longer warrant emergency haying and grazing.  Counties that trigger for Livestock Forage Disaster Program  payments based on the U.S. Drought Monitor may hay only certain practices on less than 50 percent of eligible contract acres. Producers should contact their local FSA county office for eligible CRP practices. Producers who don’t meet the drought monitor qualifications but have a 40 percent loss of forage production may also be eligible for emergency haying and grazing outside of the primary nesting season. CRP emergency haying and grazing provisions

Before haying or grazing eligible acres, producers must submit a request for CRP emergency haying or grazing to FSA and obtain a modified conservation plan from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. Emergency grazing is authorized for up to 90 days and emergency haying is authorized for up to 60 days. Program participants must stop haying and grazing 30 days before the first freeze date in the fall based on the dates established for LFP. Under the emergency grazing provisions, producers can use the CRP acreage for their own livestock or may grant another livestock producer use of the CRP acreage. The eligible CRP acreage is limited to acres located within the approved county. For emergency haying, producers are limited to one cutting and are permitted to

sell the hay. Participants must remove all hay from CRP acreage within 15 days after baling and remove all livestock from CRP acreage no later than 1 day after the end of the emergency grazing period. There will be no CRP annual rental payment reduction for emergency haying and grazing authorizations. More information For more information on CRP emergency haying and grazing, people can visit http:// fsa.usda.gov/crp or contact their FSA county office. To locate their FSA office, people can visit http://farmers.gov/service-locator . For more disaster recovery assistance programs, people can visit http://farmers.gov/recover . All USDA Service Centers are open for business, including some that are open to

visitors to conduct business in person by appointment only. All service center visitors wishing to conduct business with the FSA, Natural Resources Conservation Service or any other service center agency should call ahead and schedule an appointment. Service centers that are open for appointments will pre-screen visitors based on health concerns or recent travel, and visitors must adhere to social distancing guidelines. Visitors may also be required to wear a face covering during their appointment. Field work will continue with appropriate social distancing. Program delivery staff will be in the office, and they will be working with producers in office, by phone and using online tools. More information can be found at http:// farmers.gov/coronavirus .


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USDA assists farmers, ranchers, and communities affected by recent wildfires WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today the availability of assistance for agricultural producers affected by the recent wildfires to help eligible farmers and ranchers reestablish their operations. “USDA is ready to offer all the assistance we can to the affected farmers, ranchers and communities to help them recover,” said Bill Northey, USDA under secretary for farm production and conservation. “As a farmer myself, I’m proud to be able to deliver on our most important mission to support them in their time of need.” As of Tuesday, wildfires have burned more than 2 million acres, mostly in the western states. Nearly 28,000 personnel from the local, state and federal levels are responding to 157 separate incidents, 95 of which are large, uncontained fires. “Right now, more than 6,000 firefighters from the USDA Forest Service are battling wildfires across the nation alongside our local, state and federal partners,” USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Jim Hubbard said. “Our aggressive initial attack efforts have proven incredibly proficient in protecting the American people and our lands as crews continue to face unrelenting challenges such as high winds and dry lightning.”

In a continuing effort to serve the American people, USDA partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center available online at https://www.usda.gov/topics/disaster . This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledge base of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance. USDA also developed a disaster assistance discovery tool, online at https:// www.farmers.gov/recover/disaster-tool#step-1 , specifically targeted to rural and agricultural issues. The tool walks producers through five questions that generate personalized results identifying which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover from a natural disaster. When major disasters strike, USDA has an emergency loan program that provides eligible farmers low-interest loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. USDA’s emergency loan program is triggered when a natural disaster is designated by the secretary of agriculture or a natural disaster or emergency is declared by the president under the Stafford Act. USDA also offers additional programs tailored to the needs of specific agricul-

tural sectors to help producers weather the financial impacts of major disasters and rebuild their operations.

Helping producers weather financial impacts of disasters Livestock owners and contract growers who experience above normal livestock deaths due to specific weather events, as well as to disease or animal attacks, may qualify for assistance under USDA’s Livestock Indemnity Program. Livestock producers who have suffered grazing losses due to a qualifying drought condition or fire on federally managed land during the normal grazing period for a county may qualify for help through USDA’s Livestock Forage Disaster Program. Producers of noninsurable crops who suffer crop losses, lower yields or are prevented from planting agricultural commodities may be eligible for assistance under USDA's Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program if the losses were due to natural disasters. Helping operations recover after disasters USDA also can provide financial resources through its Environmental Quality Incentives Program to help with immediate needs and long-term support to help recover from natural

disasters and conserve water resources. Assistance may also be available for emergency animal mortality disposal from natural disasters and other causes. Farmers and ranchers needing to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters can apply for assistance through USDA’s Emergency Conservation Program. USDA also has assistance available for eligible private forest landowners who need to restore forestland damaged by natural disasters through the Emergency Forest Restoration Program. USDA's Emergency Watershed Protection Program also can help relieve imminent threats to life and property caused by flood, fires and other natural disasters that impair a watershed. Orchardists and nursery tree growers may be eligible for assistance through USDA’s Tree Assistance Program to help replant or rehabilitate eligible trees, bushes and vines damaged by natural disasters. People can visit USDA's disaster resources website to learn more about USDA disaster preparedness and response. For more information on USDA disaster assistance programs, people can contact their local USDA Service Center. To find your local USDA Service Center people can go to http:// farmers.gov/service-center-locator .

www.havredailynews.com What’s changed Belasco said he’s noticed a significant shift in the sources people typically use to get their meat amid the pandemic, often looking to more local sources. However, he said, the current infrastructure of the agriculture market may not allow this change to become as dramatic as it could. “My observation is that I’ve seen a lot of people buying from ranches and leaning on those regional food systems,” he said adding, “But that capacity can only go so far. I mean, there’s only so much that we can process in Montana before you hit a bottleneck.” Belasco said this shift is mainly being seen in middle- to higher-income households, and there is also the possibility that the recession resulting from the pandemic might also limit this potential shift. He said it’s still very much an open question, “What does post-COVID ag look like?” Belaso said there is still a lack of hard data and much of his observation is ultimately based on anecdotal evidence in lieu of anything else. He said he’s inclined to think there will

FARM & RANCH be at least some lasting effect from COVID on the popularity of local food sources. “It’s very much an open discussion, and it’s an interesting topic,” he said. “What are the short impacts, and what are the longer-term impacts that we’ve seen so far?” He said he’s particularly interested in the effect it will have on restaurants in the long-term. “It’s hard to imagine a worse scenario than a supply and a demand shock happening together, but I don’t know if the demand shock is quite over yet. I mean, will restaurants ever be the same?” he said. Belasco said the pandemic seems to have accelerated a 20-year trend of customers in the U.S. moving toward fast food rather than traditional restaurants, and he wonders what kind of effect that accelerated trend will have on the beef market. He also said international trade in agriculture, while it has seen setbacks, has not seen any major changes. But he worries that the pandemic might lead to a future in which the U.S. is less inclined to expand

USDA to invest up to $360 million in partner-driven conservation Application period has opened for the Regional Conservation Partnership Program Press release WA S H I N GTO N — U S DA’s N a t u ra l Resources Conservation Service has invited potential conservation partners to submit project applications for federal funding t h r o u g h t h e Re g i o n a l C o n s e r va t i o n Partnership Program or RCPP. NRCS will award up to $360 million dollars to locally driven, public-private partnerships that improve the nation’s water quality, combat drought, enhance soil health, support wildlife habitat and protect agricultural viability. “RCPP brings an expanded approach to investing in natural resource conservation that empowers local communities to work with multiple partners and agricultural producers to design solutions that work best for them,” said NRCS Chief Matthew Lohr. Partners may request between $250,000 and $10 million in RCPP funding through this funding announcement. Partners are expected to offer value-added contributions to amplify the impact of RCPP funding in an amount equal or greater to the NRCS investment. Eligible lead partners are encouraged to apply. Funding is open to private industry, non-government organizations, Indian tribes, state and local governments, water

districts and universities, among others. The full list of eligible entities is available in the RCPP funding announcement. First authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, RCPP has combined nearly $1 billion in NRCS investments with close to $2 billion in non-NRCS dollars to implement conservation practices across the nation. There are 336 active RCPP projects that have engaged more than 2,000 partners. Successful RCPP projects provide innovative conservation solutions, leverage partner contributions and offer impactful and measurable outcomes. NRCS requested public comment on the RCPP Critical Conservation Areas and their associated priority resource concerns as part of a review allowed by the Farm Bill once every five years. This funding announcement introduces CCA changes that resulted from the review: • The California Bay-Delta and Columbia River Basin CCAs have been combined into the Western Waters CCA, which also encompasses the Klamath River Basin and the Puget Sound Basin. • A new CCA — Northeast Forests and Waters — has been added to the roster. This CCAs priority resource concerns include water quality and wildlife habitat. The b o u n d a r i e s o f t h e C CA e n c o m p a s s Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. USDA is now accepting proposals for RCPP through the RCPP portal at https:// nrcs-sites.secure.force.com . Proposals are due by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time November 4, 2020. For more information, people can view the Application for Program Funding at http://grants.gov . For more information on RCPP, people can visit the RCPP website.

trade with other countries out of fear. What’s the same Belasco said, despite some changes in retail, the production side of the agriculture has remained mostly the same. “I think the majority of changes have been on the retail side,” he said. He said he suspects, despite recent interest in local production, operations for producers have likely not changed all that much, particularly in Montana which has not been hit as hard by the pandemic as many other states. Mattson said his day-to-day operations require a bit more planning because of the pandemic, but for the most part it’s business as usual. Belasco said the market hasn’t been without its problems, however. In past months there were issues with beef producers seeing backups in their feed lots due to meat processors having trouble adjusting to the pandemic, with workers being afraid to come back to the plants for fear of the virus.

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But, Belasco said, the plants have adapted relatively well and, since the initial concern, processing plants have mostly been brought back into production and the problem appears to have more or less stabilized. Belasco said nobody really knows what the long-term effects of the pandemic will be on agriculture, but discussions are being had among himself and his fellow economists that interest him, mainly if the pandemic has exposed the industry’s lack of flexibility or its strength. “There’s been this whole conversation about, ‘Has the coronavirus shown the agriculture system to be too rigid?’” he said. He said some have argued that the pandemic has revealed a lack of flexibility within the industry, while individual producers have found ways to adapt, the industry as a whole has barely changed. However, Belasco said, he’s inclined to say that the pandemic has shown how resilient the industry is, being that food is still getting where it needs to even amid a dramatic shock to the system.


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