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Policy Watch…

USDA to Reboot RFID Cattle Traceability Proposal

USDA is reworking how it plans to move forward on a proposal to make Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) the official ear tag for use in interstate movement of cattle. In response to public comments on a proposal announced in July of 2020, the agency has clarified that it will not move forward with the initial proposal, but instead approach the issue using an official rulemaking process. The decision means the July 2020 proposal will not be finalized and that all U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) currently approved methods of identification may continue to be used as official identification until further notice. APHIS will continue to share news and information about efforts related to animal disease traceability and the use of RFID tags. Nebraska Farm Bureau (NEFB) will continue to monitor the situation as USDA develops a new proposal that will again, be open for public comment though the official rulemaking.

PPP Deadline Moving to May 31

The Senate gave approval this week to a bill that would extend the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) application for an additional two months from March 31 to May 31, 2021. The House had already passed a similar measure. President Biden is expected to sign the Farm Bureau supported legislation. On a related note, on March 12, the Small Business Administration (SBA) extended PPP eligibility to single-member Limited Liability Corporations (LLCs) and qualified joint ventures. The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which became law on March 11, 2021, also expanded PPP eligibility to tax-exempt 501(c)5 agricultural organizations. The PPP deadline extension will allow farmers and ranchers operating as single-member LLCs and state and county Farm Bureaus that were recently made eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program more time to apply for PPP loans. Those that only qualified under the first tranche but were unable to sign up for the second due to the deadline, should contact their lending institutions. As a reminder, farmers and ranchers must show a 25 percent loss in any quarter (2020 when compared to 2019) to qualify for the second round of PPP. More PPP details HERE

On the Horizon: State Budget Debate

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee could release its proposed biennium budget as early as next week, with anticipation that floor debate on the budget would take place shortly after the Easter break. Key priorities for Farm Bureau in budget discussions will include property tax relief, school funding measures, and expanding broadband. Stay tuned as Nebraska Farm Bureau will be providing opportunities for members to engage with their senators in ensuring Nebraska Farm Bureau’s priorities are appropriately funded in the state budget.

Schedule a Legislative Update Call

During the 2021 legislative session, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s governmental relations team is offering to provide a brief legislative update on the latest state and/or national issues and answer questions during County Farm Bureau Board of Director meetings. Contact Whittney Kelley at (402) 421-4760 or at whittneyk@nefb.org to schedule a call today.

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