February 2021
Young Farmers & Ranchers Happenings
If anyone is interested in hosting a virtual tour of their farm or joining the YF&R committee, please email Heather at 
Mark Your Calendar For The 2021 Virtual AFBF FUSION Conference
AFBF’s Promotion & Education, Women’s Leadership and Young Farmers & Ranchers committees are planning the first-ever virtual AFBF FUSION Conference, slated for mid-March. This reimagined event, with the theme “Where Agriculture Converges,” will begin the evening of Thursday, March 11, and conclude the evening of Saturday, March 13. Pre-conference events will include state chair training and the opening rounds of the Collegiate Discussion Meet. Information on how to register and other details will be released in the next few weeks.
40 Under 40 - Fruit and Vegetable
The Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Awards honor 40 outstanding individuals making their marks in the industry.

These 40 young professionals represent the best in the industry. The Fruit + Vegetable 40 Under 40 Class of 2020 will be honored at the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO, and recognized in the October 2020 issues of Fruit Growers News and Vegetable Growers News.

Watch now the Class of 2021 LIVE during the virtual Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable & Farm Market EXPO on Tuesday, Dec. 8. 

Thank you to the sponsors who support the 40 Under 40 recognition program: Corteva Agriscience, Stokes Seeds, FMC Corporation, BioWorks, and AgBiome Innovations.

Nominations Open for the Class of 2021. Deadline is March 18, 2021.
CDC COVID-19 Toolkit
The CDC has designed a COVID-19 Vaccination Communication Toolkit for Essential Workers to help employers build confidence in this important new vaccine. The toolkit will help employers across various industries educate their workforce about COVID-19 vaccines, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and address common questions and concerns. 

The toolkit contains a variety of resources including: 
  • key messages, 
  • an educational slide deck, 
  • FAQs, 
  • posters/flyers, 
  • newsletter content, 
  • a plain language vaccine factsheet (available in several different languages), 
  • a template letter for employees, 
  • social media content, and 
  • vaccination sticker templates.

Click here to view the toolkit.

USDA Temporarily Suspends Debt Collections, Foreclosures, Other Activities On Farm Loans For Several Thousand Distressed Borrowers Due To Coronavirus
Due to the national public health emergency caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the temporary suspension of past-due debt collections and foreclosures for distressed borrowers under the Farm Storage Facility Loan and the Direct Farm Loan programs administered by the Farm Service Agency (FSA). USDA will temporarily suspend non-judicial foreclosures, debt offsets or wage garnishments, and referring foreclosures to the Department of Justice; and USDA will work with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop judicial foreclosures and evictions on accounts that were previously referred to the Department of Justice. Additionally, USDA has extended deadlines for producers to respond to loan servicing actions, including loan deferral consideration for financially distressed and delinquent borrowers. In addition, for the Guaranteed Loan program, flexibilities have been made available to lenders to assist in servicing their customers.

This announcement by USDA expands previous actions undertaken by the Department to lessen financial hardship. According to USDA data, more than 12,000 borrowers—approximately 10% of all borrowers—are eligible for the relief announced today. Overall, FSA lends to more than 129,000 farmers, ranchers and producers.

“USDA and the Biden Administration are committed to bringing relief and support to farmers, ranchers and producers of all backgrounds and financial status, including by ensuring producers have access to temporary debt relief,” said Robert Bonnie, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the Secretary. “Not only is USDA suspending the pipeline of adverse actions that can lead to foreclosure and debt collection, we are also working with the Departments of Justice and Treasury to suspend any actions already referred to the applicable Agency. Additionally, we are evaluating ways to improve and address farm related debt with the intent to keep farmers on their farms earning living expenses, providing for emergency needs, and maintaining cash flow.”

The temporary suspension is in place until further notice and is expected to continue while the national COVID-19 disaster declaration is in place.

USDA’s Farm Service Agency provides several different loans for producers, which fall under two main categories:
  • Guaranteed loans are made and serviced by commercial lenders, such as banks, the Farm Credit System, credit unions and other non-traditional lenders. FSA guarantees the lender’s loan against loss, up to 95 percent.
  • Direct loans are made and serviced by FSA using funds from the federal government.

The most common loan types are Farm Ownership, Farm Operating, and Farm Storage Facility Loans, with Microloans for each:
  • Farm Ownership: Helps producers purchase or enlarge a farm or ranch, construct a new or improve an existing farm or ranch building, pay closing costs, and pay for soil and water conservation and protection.
  • Farm Operating: Helps producers purchase livestock and equipment and pay for minor real estate repairs and annual operating expenses.
  • Farm Storage Facility Loans are made directly to producers for the construction of cold or dry storage and includes handling equipment and mobile storage such as refrigerated trucks.
  • Microloans: Direct Farm Ownership, Operating Loans, and Farm Storage Facility Loans have a shortened application process and reduced paperwork designed to meet the needs of smaller, non-traditional, and niche-type operations.

Contact FSA
FSA encourages producers to contact their county office to discuss these programs and temporary changes to farm loan deadlines and the loan servicing options available. For Service Center contact information, visit farmers.gov/coronavirus. For servicing information, access farmers.gov.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.
CFAP Provides Lifeline To Farmers, Ranchers
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall commented today on the USDA suspension of CFAP payments.

“The pandemic has taken an unprecedented toll on American agriculture, and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program has provided a lifeline for farmers and ranchers across the country. Many growers who previously did not qualify for assistance continue to suffer losses and need the help CFAP provides.

“We recognize the new administration’s desire to review important farmer and rancher assistance programs and we urge USDA to take into consideration our comments on how to improve such programs. We appreciate that CFAP applications will continue to be accepted, and we encourage the swift resumption of distribution of resources to the people who are working to keep America’s pantries stocked.”

Read the USDA CFAP notice.
Paycheck Protection Program - Round Three
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has provided relief for small to medium-sized businesses all across the nation and as the impacts of the pandemic continue to take effect, the additional funds for the PPP and simplified forgiveness process are welcomed. The loan program was developed to provide relief and stimulus to eligible businesses including Farmers and Ranchers, nonprofit organizations, and independent contractors. 


To learn more about eligibility and the recent enhancements to the PPP and forgiveness process, we encourage members to visit farmbureau.bank.
USDA Announces Quality Loss Assistance Now Available for Eligible Producers Affected by 2018, 2019 Natural Disasters 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced that signup for the Quality Loss Adjustment (QLA) Program will begin Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. Funded by the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, this new program provides assistance to producers who suffered eligible crop quality losses due to natural disasters occurring in 2018 and 2019. The deadline to apply for QLA is Friday, March 5, 2021. 

“Farmers and livestock producers nationwide experienced crop quality losses due to natural disasters in 2018 and 2019,” said. Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “We have worked diligently over the past couple of years to roll out meaningful disaster assistance programs to help alleviate the substantial financial loss experienced by so many agricultural producers and are pleased to offer quality loss assistance as added relief. Many of the eligible producers have already received compensation for quantity losses.” 

Eligible Crops 
Eligible crops include those for which federal crop insurance or Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage is available, except for grazed crops and value loss crops, such as honey, maple sap, aquaculture, floriculture, mushrooms, ginseng root, ornamental nursery, Christmas trees, and turfgrass sod. 

Additionally, crops that were sold or fed to livestock or that are in storage may be eligible; however, crops that were destroyed before harvest are not eligible. Crop quality losses occurring after harvest, due to deterioration in storage, or that could have been mitigated, are also not eligible. 
Assistance is based on a producer’s harvested affected production of an eligible crop, which must have had at least a 5% quality loss reflected through a quality discount; or for forage crops, a nutrient loss, such as total digestible nutrients. 

Qualifying Disaster Events 
Losses must have been a result of a qualifying disaster event (hurricane, excessive moisture, flood, qualifying drought, tornado, typhoon, volcanic activity, snowstorm, or wildfire) or related condition that occurred in calendar years 2018 and/or 2019. 

Assistance is available for eligible producers in counties that received a qualifying Presidential Emergency Disaster Declaration or Secretarial Disaster Designation because of one or more of the qualifying disaster events or related conditions. 

Lists of counties with Presidential Emergency Disaster Declarations and Secretarial Disaster Designations for all qualifying disaster events for 2018 and 2019 are available here. For drought, producers are eligible for QLA if the loss occurred in an area within a county rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as having a D3 (extreme drought) or higher intensity level during 2018 or 2019. 

Producers in counties that did not receive a qualifying declaration or designation may still apply but must also provide supporting documentation to establish that the crop was directly affected by a qualifying disaster event. 

To determine QLA eligibility and payments, FSA considers the total quality loss caused by all qualifying natural disasters in cases where a crop was impacted by multiple events. 

Applying for QLA 
When applying, producers are asked to provide verifiable documentation to support claims of quality loss or nutrient loss in the case of forage crops. For crops that have been sold, grading must have been completed within 30 days of harvest, and for forage crops, a laboratory analysis must have been completed within 30 days of harvest. 

Some acceptable forms of documentation include sales receipts from buyers, settlement sheets, truck or warehouse scale tickets, written sales contracts, similar records that represent actual and specific quality loss information, and forage tests for nutritional values. 

Payments Calculations and Limitations 
QLA payments are based on formulas for the type of crop (forage or non-forage) and loss documentation submitted. Based on this documentation FSA is calculating payments based on the producer’s own individual loss or based on the county average loss. More information on payments can be found on farmers.gov/quality-loss. 

FSA will issue payments once the application period ends. If the total amount of calculated QLA payments exceeds available program funding, payments will be prorated. 

For each crop year, 2018, 2019 and 2020, the maximum amount that a person or legal entity may receive, directly or indirectly, is $125,000. Payments made to a joint operation (including a general partnership or joint venture) will not exceed $125,000, multiplied by the number of persons and legal entities that comprise the ownership of the joint operation. A person or legal entity is ineligible for QLA payment if the person’s or legal entity’s average Adjusted Gross Income exceeds $900,000, unless at least 75% is derived from farming, ranching or forestry-related activities. 

Future Insurance Coverage Requirements 
All producers receiving QLA Program payments are required to purchase crop insurance or NAP coverage for the next two available crop years at the 60% coverage level or higher. If eligible, QLA participants may meet the insurance purchase requirement by purchasing Whole-Farm Revenue Protection coverage offered through USDA’s Risk Management Agency. 

More Information 
For more information, visit farmers.gov/quality-loss, or contact your local USDA Service Center. Producers can also obtain one-on-one support with applications by calling 877-508-8364. 

New England Leopold Conservation Award Seeks Nominees
Know a farmer or forestland owner who goes above and beyond in their care and management of natural resources? Nominate them for the 2021 New England Leopold Conservation Award®.

Sand County Foundation and national sponsor American Farmland Trust present the Leopold Conservation Award to private landowners in 22 states for extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation. In New England the $10,000 award is presented with, New England Forestry Foundation and Wildlands, Woodlands, Farmlands & Communities.

Given in honor of renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, the award recognizes landowners who inspire others with their dedication to soil health, water quality and wildlife habitat on private, working land. In his influential 1949 book, A Sand County Almanac, Leopold called for an ethical relationship between people and the land they own and manage.

Nominations may be submitted on behalf of a landowner in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Landowners may also nominate themselves. The application can be found at www.sandcountyfoundation.org/ApplyLCA.

The application deadline date is July 15, 2021. Applications can be emailed to award@sandcountyfoundation.org. If mailed, applications must be postmarked by July 15, and mailed to:

Leopold Conservation Award
c/o New England Forestry Foundation
P.O. Box 1346
Littleton, MA 01460

Applications will be reviewed by an independent panel of agricultural and forestry conservation leaders.

“As a national sponsor for Sand County Foundation’s Leopold Conservation Award, American Farmland Trust celebrates the hard work and dedication of farmers, ranchers and forestland owners,” said John Piotti, AFT President and CEO. “At AFT we believe that conservation in agriculture requires a focus on the land, the practices and the people and this award recognizes the integral role of all three.”

“Recipients of this award are real life examples of conservation-minded agriculture,” said Kevin McAleese, Sand County Foundation President and Chief Executive Officer. “These hard-working families are essential to our environment, food system and rural economy.”

The New England Leopold Conservation Award is made possible through the generous support of American Farmland Trust, New England Forestry Foundation; Wildlands, Woodlands, Farmlands & Communities; Sand County Foundation, David and Ann Ingram, Farm Credit East, Yale School of the Environment and Whole Foods Market.

The first recipient of the award was Bill Hull of Hull Forest Products in Pomfret Center, Connecticut. Linda Rinta and the Rinta Family Farm of West Wareham, Massachusetts received the award in 2020.

Farm Bureau University
What is Farm Bureau University?
“Online Learning for Farm Bureau”

Learning is no longer confined to four walls and formalized training. Farm Bureau University allows Farm Bureau members to learn through interactive experiences online when and where they want. Farm Bureau members can log onto FB University from a desktop computer in their office or on an iPad in the field.

Currently available to Farm Bureau members:
  • Board Essentials – Online training for county board members to develop skills and acquire knowledge as a Farm Bureau leader.
  • FB Builder – An evaluation tool for your county Farm Bureau to assess on eight building blocks of organizational health.
  • Pillars of Agricultural Literacy – A tool to guide you, or a group, through the Pillars of Agricultural Literacy in order to create a purposeful plan to educate consumers about agriculture.

What’s new on Farm Bureau University?
Farm Bureau Board Essentials, the newest online learning program, offers resources and training to county board members to improve governance, planning, policy development and advocacy, and membership.

Whether you’ve been on the board for three weeks or 30 years, Farm Bureau Board Essentials sharpens your skillset and understanding as a board member.

How to register for Farm Bureau University
Any member can register for free at university.fb.org. New users need to register for an account and type in the correct code. The member code is “statefb” replacing state with the two-letter postal abbreviation. For example a New York Farm Bureau member’s code is “nyfb.”

Click here to register today.
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