Volume 17, Issue 26
July 2, 2020
In This Issue:
  • Market Update: Gulf Coast Rice Harvest Gets Early Start
  • USMCA Enters Into Force
  • Washington DC Update
USMCA Enters Into Force
Wednesday the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement entered into force, replacing the decades-old NAFTA to govern trade flow in North America.

The three countries negotiated the updated agreement in less than two years, tightening the rules of origin for autos, revamping regional labor standards, and overhauling Canada’s dairy pricing system among other highlights. Notably for the U.S. rice farmer, USMCA maintains duty free access for U.S. rice entering Canadian and Mexican markets.

The deal’s entry-into-force brings renewed attention to Mexico’s two-year lapse in approving U.S. agricultural biotechnology products, in light of USMCA’s biotech coordination and transparency standards. This and other issues demonstrate the renewed deal is not perfect, but U.S. agriculture was close to unanimous in its support for USMCA.

“The U.S. industry has nurtured the rough rice export market to Mexico into the number one export market for U.S. rice of any form,” said Dwight Roberts, President & CEO of USRPA. “The North American market is critical for U.S. rice farmers, and particularly Mexico, where USRPA promotion programs have impacted sales and per capita consumption of rice,” Roberts concluded.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue penned an oped in the North Carolina Fayetteville Observer saying, “We are shown once again that President Trump has the backs of America’s farmers and thank him on the delivery of this much better deal.”

USRPA continues building its longstanding relationships with partners in North America to promote the interests of U.S. rice farmers by promoting U.S. rice in the region.
Washington DC Update
In a rare display of bi-partisan and bi-cameral action, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) for small businesses was extended this week for about five weeks, through Aug. 8, under S. 4116. In a largely unexpected move on Tuesday, June 30 th, the Senate passed by unanimous consent S.4116, which was rapidly followed by House action the next day, also passing by unanimous consent. The legislation now goes to the President for signature. 

Under the CARES Act the application period expired at 11:59 p.m. on June 30 with the expectation that small businesses would be back in operation. Approximately $130 billion in unused PPP funds would have been lost if legislative action had not been taken.

The Paycheck Protection Program offers low-interest loans guaranteed by the Small Business Administration for small businesses and other entities to keep workers on the payroll during the Covid-19 crisis. Its lending authority was set at $349 billion under the CARES Act passed in March, and later increased to $659 billion. The program is open to businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees, self-employed workers, and some companies that are part of food or hotel chains, among others.

PPP loans can be forgiven for borrowers that pay eligible payroll expenses or make other covered payments for mortgage interest, rent, or utility costs incurred over 24 weeks or through Dec. 31, whichever comes first. The Small Business Administration and its lending partners had approved $518.9 billion in PPP loans as of June 27, with $134.5 billion left over, according to SBA data. The pace of lending slowed in recent months as some businesses questioned whether they qualify for the program or its loan forgiveness provisions.

Although there are many other proposals regarding PPP implementation being discussed and considered, S. 4116 did not make any broader changes to the Paycheck Protection Program. As the COVID crisis continues, additional legislative measures to provide assistance to small businesses are expected from both chambers. The House has passed the HEROES Act and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has announced that the Senate would take up another measure in late July ahead of the August recess.
Upcoming Events
July 1, 2020
H. Rouse Caffey Rice Research Station Annual Field Day
Crowley, Louisiana. Tours early in the morning, followed by presentations inside. Check back later for more information.

July 8, 2020
Horizon Ag Louisiana Field Day, 5:00 p m
Richard Farm Shop, 5632 Louisiana Highway 700, Kaplan, Louisiana
For more information, please call Horizon Ag at 866-237-6167.

July 9, 2020 (Virtual)
73rd Texas A&M AgriLife Research Extension Rice Field Day
8:00 - 9:30 a.m. via Zoom

July 9, 2020 (Virtual)
Impacts of the Transportation System on Agricultural Products
2:00 - 3:00 p.m. via Webinar Link

July 23, 2020
University of Arkansas Row Crops Field Day
Rohwer Research Station
140 Experiment Station Loop, Watson, Arkansas – check back later for more information.

August 5, 2020
University of Arkansas Row Crops Field Day
Northeast Research & Extension Center
1241 W. County Road 780, Keiser, Arkansas – check back later for more information.

August 7, 2020
University of Arkansas Rice Field Day
Rice Research & Extension Center, Stuttgart, Arkansas – check back later for more information.

August 20, 2020
Missouri Rice Research and Merchandising Council Field Day
More Information Coming Soon.
USDA Reminds Producers to Complete Crop Acreage Reports
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 1, 2020 – Agricultural producers who have not yet completed their  crop acreage reports  after spring planting should make an appointment with their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office before the applicable deadline. July 15 is a major deadline for most crops, but acreage reporting deadlines vary by county and by crop. Contact your FSA county office for acreage reporting deadlines that are specific to your county.
Food and Ag Regulatory and Policy Roundup
 Coastal Producers Gearing Up For Harvest
Regional Crop Report
Earliest-planted rice nearing harvest, crop rapidly maturing in other regions
The US Rice Producers wishes you and your family a happy and safe 4th of July weekend!

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